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Public Safety

Roundtable: Dangerous Dentists; Laura's Law; Seizing Drug Assets

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Roundtable: Dangerous Dentists; Laura's Law; Seizing Drug Assets
Roundtable: Dangerous Dentists; Laura's Law; Seizing Drug Assets
Dangerous Dentists, Laura's Law, Asset Forfeiture HOST: Mark SauerGUESTS:Joel Hoffmann, U-T San Diego Kelly Davis, San Diego, CityBeat Leo Castaneda, INewsource

WELCOME TO OUR DISCUSSION OF SOME OF THE WEEK'S TOP STORIES. I'M MARK SAUER. JOINING ME AT THE KPBS ROUNDTABLE TODAY ARE REPORTER HOT JOE -- JOEL HOFFMAN WITH SAN DIEGO. THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON. KELLY DAVIS, GOOD TO SEE YOU. GOOD TO SEE YOU. AND LEO CASTANEDA. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. A STATE BOARD INVESTIGATES COMPLAINTS AGAINST DENTISTS INCLUDING WHEN PATIENTS SUFFER SERIOUS INJURY OR EVEN DEATH. BUT THE PROCESS CAN TAKE YEARS AND DENTISTS TYPICALLY CONTINUE TO PRACTICE. JOEL, START BY TELLING US HOW MANY OF THESE CASES ARE THERE AGAINST THE DENTAL PROFESSIONALS? HOW BIG A DEAL IS THIS? STARTING IN JULY 2009 WE ASKED FOR FIVE FISCAL YEARS' WORTH OF DATA. WE KNOW THERE ARE AT LEAST THREE DOZEN. IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY? IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY. THOSE ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT HAVE BEEN STAYING -- SUBSTANTIATED. EVEN IN THEIR LETTER BACK TO US, THE DENTAL BOARD SAID THE DATA IS NOT COMPLETE. NOT SUFFICIENT. SO THERE COULD BE MORE IN THREE DOZEN? YOU WROTE ABOUT ONE DENTIST, RAY MICHAEL SMITH AT THE CENTER OF TWO NOTORIOUS INCIDENTS. WHAT HAPPENED IN THOSE CASES? STARTING IN 1999, THAT WAS THE FIRST INCIDENT WITH A WOMAN NAMEDMK. HE HAD BEEN TRAINED AS AN ORAL SURGEON AND HE BELIEVED THAT ALLOWED HIM TO COSMETIC SURGERY. SO HE WAS USING A LASER ON THE WOMAN'S CHEEK. AND THE NASAL -- THAT TAKES OXYGEN TO THE NOSE, LIT HER FACE ON FIRE, EYEBROWS, MOUTH, LIPS, TONGUE ALL GOT SCORCHED. WOW. THE OTHER INCIDENT? THAT WAS A 15-YEAR-OLD BOY NAMED STEPHEN FRISCH. VERY SERIOUS HEART PROBLEMS. AND PROBABLY SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN UNDER SEDATION FOR THE SURGERY, AT LEAST NOT UNDER HIS KIND OF SEDATION. STATES SAID THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN INDEPENDENT SPECIALISTS THERE. IN A HOSPITAL PERHAPS? AND HE DIDN'T GO FORWARD IN THAT WAY. AND SHORTLY AFTER THE SURGERY, THE BOY DIED. OF HEART FAILURE. OBVIOUSLY THAT'S THE EXTREME IN THESE CASES THAT YOU'RE LOOKING AT. DR. SMITH KEPT PRACTICING? RIGHT. HE WAS PUT ON PROBATION IN JUNE 2007. A WEEK LATER, THE BOY DIED. HE DIDN'T LOSE HIS LICENSE UNTIL JANUARY 2012. STARTING IN 2000, THEY FIRST HAD CONCERNS ABOUT HIM. JANUARY 2012 IS WHEN HE LOST HIS LICENSE. WE'RE GOING TO GET TO SOME OF THAT TIMEFRAME IN A MOMENT. YOU DID WRITE ABOUT ANOTHER CASE INVOLVING MULTIPLE ACCUSATIONS OF LEWD CONDUCT. THIS TIME WITH A LA MESA DENTIST. THAT WAS EUGENE SIKORA KOFF. THE FIRST INCIDENT WAS WITH A PATIENT WHO HAD STAYED BEHIND AFTER -- AFTER HER APPOINTMENT. AND HE SAID HE WAS GOING TO SHOW HER YOGA EXERCISES. AND UNDER THE GUISE OF DOING SO, HE BEGAN TO GROPE HER AND TOUCH HER, HER BREASTS AND HER CROTCH. AND SHE EVENTUALLY TRIED TO LEAVE. AND HE TOLD HER NOT TO AND KEPT HER THERE. AND EVENTUALLY SHE WAS ABLE TO GET AWAY AND SHE CALLED THE POLICE. AND HE PLEADED GUILTY TO A MISDEMEANOR. BECAUSE THAT HE DOESN'T SHOW UP ON THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY. THE STATE ALLOWED HIM TO KEEP PRACTICING. SO THE WHOLE SITUATION HERE IS REGARDING -- HAVE A GOAL OF HOW LONG THESE CASES SHOULD TAKE. THEY INVESTIGATE THEM AND WHAT OF THE PROCESS IS GOING TO FIND, BUT HOW CLOSE ARE THEY TO REACHING THE GOAL, THE STATE BOARD THAT INVESTIGATES THESE? ABOUT TWICE AS LONG AS THEY WOULD LIKE. HERE AND HALF ON AVERAGE. IT'S ABOUT THREE YEARS TO GO FROM THE COMPLETE STAGE TWO WHENATTORNEY GENERAL'S PROSECUTOR WOULD GO THROUGH THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDING. WE WANT TO GET INTO SOME OF THE REASONS THIS TAKE SO LONG. THERE IS SOME COMPLICATED REASONS BEHIND IT. DESPITE THE FACT THEY'VE ADDED INVESTIGATORS, IT'S TAKING LONGER. RESOURCE ISSUE WITH SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS. EXPERTS WHO CAN -- DENTISTS WHO CAN LOOK AT FINDINGS AND CERTIFY, THAT'S WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN IN THAT CASE. THEREFORE DISCIPLINE IS AS YOU MIGHT EXPECT. BUT ALSO, THE STATE HAS HISTORICALLY HAD PROBLEMS PULLING TOGETHER THESE ISSUES BECAUSE OF HOW COMPLICATED THE CASES ARE. PARTICULARLY THE QUALITY OF CARE CASES WHERE SOMEONE HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF NEGLIGENCE OR DOING SOMETHING WRONG AS A DENTIST AND NOT JUST OUTSIDE CONDUCT. IS THIS SOMETHING WE THINK ABOUT? WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT MALPRACTICE WITH DOCTORS. DO YOU THINK ABOUT IT MUCH WHEN YOU ARE CHOOSING A DENTIST? WHEN I'M PICKING A DENTIST OR DOCTOR, I LOOK FOR THOSE WEBSITES LIKE RATE MY DOCTOR OR DENTIST OR LOOK AT YELP. I'M JUST WONDERING IF ANY OF THESE DENTISTS THAT YOU INVESTIGATED, IF THERE WAS ANY OTHER EVIDENCE THAT THEY HAD PATIENTS WHO WERE NOT HAPPY WITH THEIR CARE? PEOPLE COMPLAINING ABOUT THEM IN OTHER FORMS? SO AT LEAST THAT MIGHT BE A DETERRENT FOR PATIENTS WHILE THE INVESTIGATION IS GOING ON? IS THERE A RATING SYSTEM IN THAT? THERE ARE DEFINITELY RATINGS ON YELP FOR SOME OF THESE DENTISTS. BUT THE BETTER WAY TO GO AT IT IS THE STATE DENTAL BOARD LICENSE VERIFICATION TOOL WHERE YOU CAN SEE ALL THE ACCUSATIONS. EVERYTHING THAT WAS PART OF HISTORY. YOU'RE GOING TO SEE THAT ONLY IF THE CASE HAS BEEN SUBSTANTIATED. COULD BE SOMEBODY WHO HAS GOTTEN INTO TROUBLE. ONE OR MORE ACCUSATIONS SITTING THERE AND THE CASE MIGHT BE DRAGGING ON A LONG TIME. THAT'S NOT GOING TO SHOW UP IN THE DATABASE. NOT UNLESS IT'S BEEN SUBSTANTIATED. I WANT TO QUICKLY -- I WANT TO LOOK THAT UP AND MAYBE I MISSED IT SOMEWHERE BUT IT WASN'T VERY EASY TO FIND WHERE YOU COULD CHECK TO SEE IF SOMEONE IS UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR HAS BEEN DISCIPLINED. MAYBE THAT NEEDS TO BE -- NOT THAT ACCESSIBLE? WE ASKED FOR FIVE YEARS' WORTH OF DATA AND WE HAD TO PLUG IN THE LICENSE NUMBERS INDIVIDUALLY. SO YOU CAN SEARCH FOR EVERYONE IN SAN DIEGO IF YOU WANT TO, BUT YOU WOULDN'T NECESSARILY KNOW BY LOOKING AT THE LIST OF PEOPLE IF THEY HAD BEEN IN TROUBLE FOR SOMETHING SERIOUS. EVEN IF THE ACCUSATION FILED MIGHT NOT BE AS BAD AS THE MICHAEL SMITH CASE. IT MIGHT BE SOMEBODY WITH OUTSIDE DRUG ARREST, BUT THAT DOESN'T HAVE A BEARING ON THEIR ABILITY AS A DENTAL ASSISTANT OR DENTIST. THEY ADDED MORE INVESTIGATORS AT THE STATE LEVEL IN RECENT YEARS. HAS A SHORTENED THE TIME OF THESE INVESTIGATIONS? INTERESTINGLY, DESPITE THE FACT THEY'VE ADDED 22 INVESTIGATORS, THE AMOUNT OF TIME IT TAKES TO GET THE CASES HAS CONTINUED TO GO UP. IT WAS AN UNFORTUNATE BACKFIRING OF THE STRATEGY BECAUSE OF THESE -- NOT ENOUGH DENTAL EXPERTS AVAILABLETO CERTIFY WHAT WAS FOUND IN THE CASE WAS WARRANTING THE DISCIPLINE THEY WANTED. SO -- IT REALLY IS -- WHAT CAN THE STATE DO ABOUT THIS? MORE FUNDING WILL HELP OR MORE TRAINING OR -- THEY SAY THEY ARE TRYING TO RECRUIT MORE PEOPLE. ONE OF THE ISSUES IS AN EXPERT COULD MAKE MORE MONEY DOING WHAT THEY DO THEN WEIGHING IN ON THESE CASES. SO I THINK THEY ARE TRYING TO RAISE THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT MIGHT BE AVAILABLE FOR THIS. ONE LAST QUESTION IN THE SECONDS WE HAVE -- LEFT HERE. HOW MANY DENTISTS GET LICENSE REVOKED EACH YEAR? IT WAS ABOUT 55 TOTAL I BELIEVE. FOR PROBATION. AND I THINK 28 REVOKED. AND I BELIEVE 10 WERE SUSPENDED. OKAY. THE DATABASE SHOULD REFLECT A SUMMARY OF THAT AT LEAST? EVEN IF IT'S NOT SO ACCESSIBLE FOR THE INDIVIDUAL DENTIST? RIGHT. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. IN 2001, LAURA WILCOX WAS SHOT TO DEATH BY A MENTALLY ILL MAN. IN 2002 THAT TRAGEDY LED TO LAURA'S LAW, A CONTROVERSIAL WAY TO ORDER PSYCHIATRIC TREATMENT FOR THE MENTALLY ILL TEAMS TO BE A THREAT TO THEMSELVES OR TO OTHERS. LAURA'S LAW WAS NOT IMPLEMENTED BY SAN DIEGO COUNTY THIS WEEK, 13 YEARS LATER, IT LOOKS LIKE THAT THAT MIGHT CHANGE. SO FIRST I'LL START BY TELLING US WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA, WHAT WOULD LAURA'S LAW DO THAT TAKES EFFECT HERE? FOR FOLKS WHO HAVE A HISTORY OFEXHIBITING SIGNS OF SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS, THEY'VE BEEN INCARCERATED, THEY'VE BEEN HOSPITALIZED, THEY'VE HAD A 5150 HOLD PLACED ON THEM. WHICH IS EMERGENCY PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITALIZATION. THEY'VE BEEN RESISTANT TO TREATMENT, WALKED AWAY FROM TREATMENT, FOR THOSE FOLKS, A FAMILY MEMBER, LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER OR MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL CAN START THE PROCESS TO COURT ORDER THEM -- INVOLUNTARY TREATMENT. BUT IT WOULD BE BASED ON A COURT ORDER AND IT WOULD BE OUTPATIENT TREATMENT. SO THEY WOULDN'T BE -- THERE'S SOME MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT FORCED MEDICATION OR PEOPLE BEING LOCKED UP IN HOSPITALS. THIS WOULD BE ALL OUTPATIENT TREATMENT. WE'RE GOING TO GET INTO MORE OF THE DETAILS AND WHAT THE CONTROVERSY INVOLVES. YOU MENTIONED THE OUTPATIENT TREATMENT. HOW DOES THIS PLAN DIFFERENT FROM WHAT WE HAVE DIFFERENT NOW, LAURA'S LAW? WHAT'S THE SITUATION WE'VE HAD IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY UP TILL NOW? WHILE THE COUNTY WAS STUDYING OR EXPLORING WHETHER TO IMPLEMENT LAURA'S LAW IT -- THIS STARTED IN 2010 WHEN THERE WAS SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW LAURA'S LAW SERVICES COULD BE FUNDED, WHETHER MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES DOLLARS, THE MILLIONAIRE'S TAX THAT WAS PAST SEVERAL YEARS AGO, WHETHER THAT CAN GO TO PAY FOR LAURA'S LAW. WHILE THAT WAS BEING CLEARED UP, THE COUNTY STARTED A PROGRAM CALLED IHOT. IN-HOME OUTREACH TEAMS. THEY WOULD GO IN, THESE TEAMS OF PEOPLE WOULD GO IN AT THE REQUEST OF FAMILY MEMBERS AND TRY TO ENGAGE SOMEONE IN SERVICES, GET THEM TO ENROLL IN SERVICES AND WHAT THE COUNTY FOUND WAS THAT THE MOST RECENT -- RECENT DATA, THROUGH SEPTEMBER 2014, AND THAT TIME PERIOD THERE WERE 125 PEOPLE WHOWERE DEEMED ELIGIBLE FOR LAURA'S LAW IF LAURA'S LAW WERE IN THE COUNTY. THEY MET THAT CRITERIA. OF THOSE PEOPLE, ONLY 10 ACTUALLY ENGAGED IN SERVICES. THERE'S 115 PEOPLE THAT THEY JUST COULDN'T REACH. AND SO THAT'S WHEN THE COUNTY DECIDED THEY NEEDED ANOTHER TOOL IN THEIR WAYS THAT THEY TREAT MENTALLY ILL FOLKS. THIS IS NOT IMPLEMENTED IN VERY MANY COUNTIES IN CALIFORNIA, RIGHT? IT WAS A MATTER OF FUNDING? AND SENATOR DANIEL STEINBERGAUTHORED A BILL THAT WILL ALLOW MONEY TO BE USED. THAT TOOK EFFECT IN 2014 SO RIGHT AFTER THAT YOU SAW ORANGE COUNTY IN MAY IMPLEMENT IT OR MOVE TOWARDS IMPLEMENTING IT AND THEN JULY, IT WAS L.A. COUNTY AND SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY. YOU'VE GOT THREE MAJOR COUNTIES THAT HAVE EITHER IMPLEMENTED LAURA'S LAW OR MOVING TOWARDS DOING SO. IN THE ORIGINAL COUNTY IF I RECALL, NEVADA COUNTY? WHERE THE TRAGEDY TOOK PLACE? AND HOW DOES IT WORK THERE? THEY'VE HAD SOME TRACK RECORD WITH IT. REALLY WELL. IT'S A SMALL COUNTY. ANYTIME PEOPLE -- IT WAS ALWAYS ONLY TIME INTO FATTY COUNTY -- NEVADA COUNTY. BUT NOT A BIG URBAN CITY. UNDER 200,000 -- UNDER 100,000. BUT THEIR GRAND JURY UP THERE DID A STUDY OF HOW IT WAS GOING AND FOUND THAT FOR EVERY $1 THEY SPENT ON LAURA'S LAW IT WAS A $2 COST SAVINGS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT RESOURCES. COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES, AND THEY'VE REALLY BEEN HELPED AS A MODEL. THEY WON AN AWARD FROM THE CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF COUNTIES. SO IT'S WORKED REALLY WELL. TELL US ABOUT THE ACTION THIS WEEK WITH THE COUNTY SUPERVISORS. WHO WAS IN SUPPORT OF IT AND WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CRITICISMS RAISED BY PEOPLE? SO THE SUPERVISORS VOTED 4-1 TO CONVENE A TASK FORCE, I DON'T KNOW IF THAT'S THE RIGHT WORD, A GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT WOULD ALL HAVE SOME STAKE IN THIS PUBLIC DEFENDER LAW ENFORCEMENT TO START LOOKING AT THE PROCESS OF IMPLEMENTATION. HOW IT WOULD WORK. AND IT WAS OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF PUBLIC SPEAKERS WERE IN TEMPORARY. THESE WERE LARGELY PARENTS OF ADULT CHILDREN WHO HAVE RESISTED TREATMENT. THEY WON'T ADMIT THEY'RE MENTALLY ILL AND THERE WAS SOME REALLY UPSETTING STORIES OF ONE MOM TALKING ABOUT HER ADULT SON WHO WAS ROBBED -- THEY TOOK HIS SHOES AND SOCKS AND SOME OF HIS CLOTHING. HIS CELL PHONE. HE WAS FOUND THE NEXT DAY WANDERING AROUND SCHOOL GROUNDS KIND OF MUTTERING TO HIMSELF. SO THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE VERY VULNERABLE. TO BEING ATTACKED. ENDING UP IN JAIL, ENDING UP IN THE HOSPITAL. A THREAT TO THEMSELVES? THIS IS A WAY TO KIND OF INTERVENER BEFORE IT GETS TO A POINT OF TRAGEDY. NOW WHAT ABOUT THE FOLKS WHO ARE AGAINST, ACLU, THE PEOPLE WHO THINK THIS SHOULDN'T HAPPEN? THERE'S JUST SUCH A BAD HISTORY OF FORCED TREATMENT IN CALIFORNIA. AND THEY LOOK BACK AT THAT. AND A LOT OF THAT HAS BEEN OUTLAWED. BUT THEY PUT ME IN TOUCH WITH FOLKS WHO HAVE BEEN ORDERED INTO TREATMENT THROUGH CONSERVATORSHIP OR BEEN CONFINED TO A MENTAL HOSPITAL. IT HAS A DETRIMENTAL EFFECT. IT CAN TURN PEOPLE OFF TREATMENT FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. SO THEY HAVE SOME VERY LEGITIMATE CONCERNS AND I HOPE THAT THEY'RE PART OF THIS IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS. SO THAT THOSE CONCERNS CAN BE ADDRESSED. WHAT WE'RE TALKING AT THE BASE HERE IS PREDICTING HUMAN BEHAVIOR ESPECIALLY IN FOLKS WHO ARE MENTALLY ILL AND DEALING WITH SERIOUS ISSUES. THEY MAKE HEADLINES ALL THE TIME. WE SEE THE FELLOW FROM HERE IS ACCUSED OF SHOOTING AT THE THEATER IN DENVER. ANY NUMBER OF SHOOTINGS THAT INVOLVE MENTALLY DISTURBED FOLKS ACCESS TO GUNS. IT'S ALWAYS A VERY FINE LINE TO TALK ABOUT LIBERTIES AND FREEDOMS. AND TRYING TO PREDICT HUMAN BEHAVIOR WHEN IT CAN READ ALL -- RESULT IN TRAGEDY. TOUGH CALL FOR OFFICIALS PLACED IN THAT POSITION, RIGHT? IT'S HARD TO SEE WHERE YOU DRAW THE LINE. SO WOULD THIS BE THE LAST LINE OF DEFENSE? WE'VE GONE THROUGH THE IHOT TINA. THEY'VE TRIED EVERYTHING. OR WOULD THIS BE SOMETHING THAT PARENTS OR GUARDIANS COULD REQUEST FROM THE -- CAN THEY GO STRAIGHT TO -- WHERE WOULD THE COMPLAINT MOSTLY COME FROM? IT'S HARD TO SAY. THAT'S A REALLY GOOD QUESTION. I DON'T KNOW THE ANSWER. SOMEONE WHO KNOWS THE INDIVIDUAL PRETTY CLOSE? COUNTY DIRECTOR OF BEHAVIORAL HEALTH, HE'S THE ONE THAT'S GOING TO MAKE A DETERMINATION. THE REALLY IS A LONG LIST OF CRITERIA. THE ONE THAT STANDS OUT TO ME ISTHE QUESTION OF, IS THIS SOMEONE WHO CAN SURVIVE SAFELY IN THE COMMUNITY? I THINK THAT'S A REALLY BIG CONSIDERATION AND SO HOPEFULLY THOSE SAFEGUARDS WILL BE THERE SO THAT IT'S NOT PREDICTING DANGEROUSNESS. THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE EXHIBITED -- THAT SOMETHING BAD COULD HAPPEN TO THEM OR SOMEONE ELSE IF THEY DON'T -- WE'VE GOT STORIES OF FREQUENT FLYERS. FOLKS THAT THE AUTHORITIES CONTACT OVER AND OVER AGAIN. THERE'S A HUGE COST FACTOR THERE. I WOULD IMAGINE POLICE OFFICERS WOULD KNOW AND SAY THIS MIGHT BE A CANDIDATE. AND KELLY KNIGHT, WHO IS THE HEAD OF THE HOMELESS OUTREACH FOR THE DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO PARTNERSHIP, SHE SPOKE AT THE MEETING AND SAID THAT LAURA'S LAW COULD ABSOLUTELY TRANSFORM HOMELESS SERVICES BECAUSE SHE IS COMING IN CONTACT WITH PEOPLE ALL THE TIME WHO HAVE JUST REJECTED HELP AND THEY ARE VERY VULNERABLE ON THE STREETS. SO THIS COULD BE A NEW TOOL FOR FOLKS LIKE HER TO GET PEOPLE -- TREATMENT AND HOPEFULLY HOUSING WILL BE A PART OF IT. A COUPLE SECONDS LEFT. WAS THE RESOLUTION OF THIS AND WHEN WILL THE TASK FORCE OR THE GROUP OF STAFF STUDYING THIS? WHEN WILL THEY COME BACK? I THINK THEY WERE GIVEN 90 DAYS. SO IN A FEW MONTHS WE SHOULD KNOW -- I THINK AROUND APRIL IS WHEN THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO COME BACK. WE'LL BE LOOKING FOR FOLLOW-UP STORIES AT THAT TIME. FOR MANY YEARS A MAIN FEATURE HAS BEEN THE FEDERAL PROGRAM ALLOWING COPS AND PROSECUTORS TO SEIZE MONEY, CARS, HOUSES AND OTHER ASSETS OF SUSPECTED DRUG DEALERS EVEN WHEN NO CHARGES ARE FILED. IT'S AN INCREASINGLY CONTROVERSIAL PRACTICE. LEO, START BY GIVING SOME BACKGROUND. WHAT ACTUALLY IS THIS CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE, WHEN DOES IT START AND WHY IS IT LEGAL? THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STARTED IN THE MID-80S. AS A RESPONSE TO THE DRUG WAR WHERE A LOT OF STATES DIDN'T HAVE ANY RULES IN THE BOOKS. ON HOW TO DEAL WITH SITUATIONS WHERE YOU KNOW THAT SOMEONE IS A DRUG DEALER, YOU HAVE A LOT OF EVIDENCE AND USING THE MONEY OR WEAPONS BUT YOU CAN'T NECESSARILY SEES THEM. THIS ALLOWED LAW ENFORCEMENT A WAY TO SEIZE THAT AND THEN THEY GET BACK UP TO 80% OF THAT MONEY FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO USE THAT FOR TOOLS, OVERTIME HOURS, WIRETAPS, THINGS LIKE THAT TO HELP THEM CONTINUE THAT FIGHT AGAINST DRUG DEALERS. SOUNDS LIKE A SWEET DEAL FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BRING CHARGES OR GET A CONVICTION. IS JUST A COUPLE THINGS THAT MAKE US THINK THIS GUY IS DEALING DRUGS AND THIS CASH OR THIS BOAT OR THIS ASSET HAS GOTTEN THROUGH THE GOTTEN GAINS AND WE'RE JUST GOING TO TAKE IT? YEAH. THAT'S WHAT THE CRITICISM HAS BEEN. ESPECIALLY IF YOU DON'T KNOW. DID THIS CAR ACTUALLY COME FROM DRUG MONEY OR IS IT SOMEONE ELSE'S CAR? IT COULD BE A FAMILY MEMBERS, THAT YOU'RE DRIVING AROUND. SO IT'S REALLY OPEN TO POTENTIAL ABUSE. IT'S AN EASY WAY FOR POLICE TO PURPOSE TO GET MONEY OUTSIDE OF THE BUDGET PROCESS, FOR ALL THESE KIND OF TOOLS OR HOURS THAT THEY WANT, THAT THEY ARE NOT NECESSARILY GETTING MONEY FROM THE CITY. THEY KNOW IF THEY GO OUT AND SEES THESE ASSETS, IT'S CASH IN THEIR POCKET. YOU TOLD THE STORY IN YOUR PACKAGE ABOUT A DRIVER IN VISTA STOPPED BY SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES, HE HAD $9000 IN THE CAR AND THEY MADE A CASE AGAINST THE CASH ITSELF. RIGHT? NOT THE INDIVIDUAL? THAT'S WHERE IT GETS FUNNY BECAUSE IN THAT CASE THERE'S OBVIOUS EVIDENCE THAT THE SKY WAS PROBABLY INVOLVED WITH THE DRUG TRADE. HE HAD -- THEY COULDN'T REALLY CHARGE HIM WITH ANYTHING SO THEY TAKE THE MONEY AND THEN CHARGE THE MONEY AND THEY SUE IT AND TRY TO SAVE HIS MONEY IS FROM A DRUG DEAL AND WE'RE GOING TO SUE YOU AND THAT PERSON HAS TO THEN GO IN AND TRY TO JUSTIFY THAT THE MONEY IS INAUTHENTIC, WHICH IS MUCH MORE DIFFICULT THAN IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH A CRIME. MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL. [LAUGHTER] I HOPE THAT MONEY IS SITTING IN A JAIL CELL FOR A LONG TIME. THERE'S BEEN A CHANGE LATELY. OUTGOING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER HAS CHANGED THIS FEDERAL ASPECT OF THIS FORFEIT, IT WAS THE DETAILS ON THAT. WHAT'S THE NEW WRINKLE THERE? HOLDER ELIMINATING THE CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE PART OF THIS MUCH LARGER FEDERAL PROGRAM. THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT COPS CAN'T CONTINUE DOING A LOT OF THESE SEIZURES. IT JUST MEANS IF THEY WANT TO DOING THEM, YOU HAVE TO DO THEM UNDER STATE LAW. AND SOME ASPECTS, CALIFORNIA'S LAWS ARE A LITTLE BIT STRICTER. NOT ALL THE MONEY GOES BACK TO POLICE DEPARTMENTS. SOME GETS TO THE STATE BUDGET. SO IT MIGHT MAKE IT A LITTLE BIT HARDER FOR COPS TO CONTINUE DOING THIS STUFF, BUT IT'S NOT GOING TO MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THEY HAVE TO DO? IT HAS TO BE MORE THAN WALKS AND TALKS LIKE A DUCK. IT HAS TO BE SPECIFIC CRITERIA BEFORE THEY CAN SEES THESE THINGS? RIGHT. IN ORDER TO SEIZE, ESPECIALLY FOR CIVIL ASSETS, USE A WARRANT, OBVIOUSLY THE EASIEST WAY, OR IF THERE'S ENOUGH EVIDENCE AT THAT TIME, THE CAR SMELLS LIKE DRUGS, THERE IS HOLLOWED OUT PARTS OF THE CAR, THOSE ARE ALL EASY WAYS TO DO IT. SPECIFIC INDICATIONS? EXACTLY. THAT REALLY POINT TO DRUG TRADE. WE DO HAVE A CLIP HERE OF AN OFFICER IN THE OCEANSIDE POLICE DEPARTMENT DEFENDING ASSET SEIZURES, LEGITIMATE ENFORCEMENT TOOL. LET'S SEE WHAT HE HAS TO SAY. THERE'S AN ESTABLISHED PATTERN OF WHERE DID THEY GET THEIR MONEY? IT COMES DOWN TO THEY DON'T HAVE A JOB, BUT THEIR DRIVING AROUND IN AN ESCALADE. AND THEY HAVE ALL THIS JEWELRY ON BUT THERE'S NO LEGITIMATE FUNDING SOURCE THERE? THIS PERSON TELLS ME THEY ARE FLIPPING BURGERS AT MCDONALD'S OR SOMETHING? AND THEN THERE'S SOMETHING THAT'S JUST NOT ADDING UP OVERALL. SO WE DON'T JUST RUN AROUND AND SEES PEOPLE STUFF. ALL RIGHT. HOW MUCH MONEY HAS BEEN GENERATED IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY TO POLICE OFFICERS THROUGH THIS PROGRAM? THIS PROGRAM OVERALL HAS BROUGHT IN ABOUT $30 MILLION SINCE 2007 FOR SAN DIEGO POLICE DEPARTMENT. IT'S A LITTLE CASH FOR THEM TO SPREAD AROUND. 11 OVERTIME. THEY BOUGHT BEARCATS, MOBILE COMMAND FANS, AND OTHER STUFF. SWAP SITUATIONS, THINGS LIKE THAT. BIG BUCKS. WE'RE ALL CITIZENS AND WE MOVE ABOUT THROUGH THE COMMUNITY HERE. WE HEARD THAT OFFICER TALK ABOUT WHAT IT TAKES. MAYBE KELLY, YOU LOOK CROSS EYED AT THE SKY AND YOU GET A TAILLIGHT OUT, HE MAYBE GET THE WRONG IMPRESSION A COUSIN OF EX-WHY OR SEE, I DON'T KNOW. IT'S KIND OF A SCARY THING WHEN THEY DON'T HAVE TO HAVE A WARRANT AND CHARGE YOU WITH A CRIME TO SEIZE THIS STUFF? THE GUY WHO WROTE ABOUT, $9000, THERE ARE A LOT OF SIGNS THERE, THENARCOTICS SAINTS AND THE MONEY WAS WRAPPED IN SKULL AND CROSS BONES. SO HOPEFULLY THERE'S AN OVERWHELMING AMOUNT OF EVIDENCE. NOT JUST AN OFFICER'S HUNCH? THIS DOES GIVE A HECK OF A LOT OF POWER, POLICE OFFICERS ON THE STREET HAVE A LOT OF POWER INTO SOCIETY BUT USUALLY YOU HAVE TO CHARGE SOMEBODY TO REALLY IMPACT THEIR LIVES LIKE THIS. IT SEEMS LIKE OVERREACHING. IT'S ALWAYS SEEMED LIKE OVERREACHING. ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT THEY WOULD DO IT UNLESS YOU TELL THEM NOT TO DO IT. THERE ARE MORE RESTRICTIONS ON IT NOW WHICH WILL HELP PROTECT PEOPLE'S CIVIL LIBERTIES AND HOPEFULLY PREVENT RACIAL PROFILING AND ANY NUMBER OF THINGS THAT MIGHT RESULT IS A CONSEQUENT OF THIS. I FEIGNED A REALLY INTERESTING BECAUSE IT DOES SEEM AS A SOCIETY AND WE'VE DONE SOME STORIES ON THE SHOW WHERE WE'RE LOOKING AT THE DRUG WAR AND SOME OF THESE THINGS AS YOU SAY THAT ARE NOW CONSIDERED OVERREACH AND DIVERS OUT-OF-STATE PRISON, VOTERS IN CALIFORNIA TOOK THAT ISSUE UP OF COURSE UNSUCCESSFUL RECENTLY, SO THIS IS ANOTHER ISSUE HERE BECAUSE YOU THINK A VERY SERIOUS CRIMES, RAPE AND MURDER AND PHYSICAL ASSAULT. CRIMES AGAINST PEOPLE HERE WHERE THEY REALLY DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO COME IN AND DO A LOT OF THESE THINGS WITHOUT PROPER CHARGES AND PROPER DUE PROCESS HERE. BUT DRUGS BEING WHAT THEY ARE, NOT THAT THEY CAN'T RESULT IN TRAGEDIES AND A LOT OF MONEY AND VIOLENCE, IT STILL CAN BE A REAL SITUATION WHERE IT'S IN A CATEGORY BY ITSELF. IT'S DEFINITELY -- IT GOES BACK A LITTLE BIT THE SAME ISSUE WITH LAURA'S LAW WERE OBVIOUSLY IF A COP PULLS OVER SOMEONE WITH 20 GRAND AND DIRTY CASH, AND A COUPLE AK-47S YOU WANT THE COPS TO BE ABLE TO GET IT OUT OF THE STREETS. BUT THEN YOU START GETTING CLOSER TO A LINE WHERE YOU DON'T REALLY KNOW IF THAT IS DRUG MONEY OR IF THAT IS THE CAR BEING USED TO TRANSPORT DRUGS SO IT'S REALLY HARD TO NO WHERE TO DRAW THAT LINE. YOU TALKED TO THE SHERIFF OF SAN DIEGO COUNTY AND HE IS STILL SOLIDLY BEHIND THIS, RIGHT? YEAH. HE TOLD US THE SAME THING. THIS IS AN SOMETHING THAT IS GUIDING HOW THEY CHOOSE TO THOSE WHO THEY STOP, WHAT HOUSES THEY GO SEARCH, IT'S JUST AN EXTRA TOOL, EXTRA SOURCE OF REVENUE FOR THEM TO GET THE TOOLS AND COPS ARE ALWAYS UNDERFUNDED, UNDERPREPARED, UNDEREQUIPPED -- NOT UNDERPREPARED BUT UNDEREQUIPPED, SO THIS IS A WAY FOR THEM TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD WITH THESE BILLION-DOLLAR DRUG TRAFFICKING ORGANIZATIONS. WE MENTIONED THE ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS RATCHETED BACK THIS PROGRAM. WHAT IMPACT DOES THE SHERIFF SAY THAT MIGHT HAVE HERE? HE DOESN'T THINK IT'S GOING TO IMPACT. THIS IS A KEY FUNDING SOURCE FOR THEM. MY MILLION DOLLARS, $10 MILLION OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS IS NOT A HUGE PART OF THE BILLION-DOLLAR SHERIFF'S BUDGET. AND AGAIN THEY CAN CONTINUE GETTING MONEY THROUGH THE STATE PROGRAM, ALSO IF THEY PARTICIPATE IN FEDERAL TASK FORCE, WORK ON AN INVESTIGATION WITH THE D.A., THEY GET ALL THAT MONEY. SO I MENTIONED YOU PLAN SOME FOLLOW-UP STORIES ON THIS AS WE GO ALONG HERE? DEFINITELY WE'LL KEEP LOOKING AT AS LOCAL DEPARTMENTS HAVE TO SHIFT FOLLOWING THE STATE LAWS, HOW IS THAT GOING TO AFFECT HOW THEY CARRY OUT INVESTIGATIONS OR LAWSUITS AGAINST MONEY AND CARS AND HOUSES? ALL RIGHT. WE'LL LOOK FORWARD TO THAT. THAT DOES WRAP UP ANOTHER WEEK OF STORIES AT THE KPBS ROUNDTABLE. I'D LIKE TO THANK JOEL HOFFMAN OF UT, SAN DIEGO FROM SAN DIEGO CITY BEAT AND LEO CASTANEDA OF MY NEW SOURCE. ALL THE STORIES WE DISCUSSED TODAY ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE, KPBS.ORG. I'M MARKS SAUER. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY ON THE ROUNDTABLE.

Dangerous Dentists

When dentists in California harm their patients – even grievously -- the process of investigation and discipline can be lengthy and ineffective.

Dentists with multiple complaints against them are put on probation by the Dental Board of California, but most are allowed to continue practicing until the process plays itself out, which usually takes years and may result in more harm to more patients.

In San Diego County, more than three dozen dental professionals have faced disciplinary action by the dental board in the last five years, including a La Mesa dentist who admitted to lewd conduct with a patient and a Rancho Bernardo dentist who burned a patient’s face.

It typically takes more than three years to resolve a complaint, more than twice the amount of time the board has set as a goal.

Four years ago the board employed 14 investigators. It now has 26, but they may not have the expertise that cases require. Those who deal with specialized cases are dentists themselves, with practices to maintain, which further slows the process.

County May Require Dangerous Mentally Ill To Be Treated

The 2002 Laura’s Law gives California courts the power to order psychiatric treatment for mentally ill persons who may be a threat to themselves or others.

Named after Laura Wilcox, shot in 2001 at the age of 19 by a mentally ill man who had refused treatment, the law is not mandatory statewide. It must be approved and funded by county authorities before it goes into effect.

San Diego held off its approval because there was no funding to implement it and instead created In-Home Outreach Teams in 2011. These teams from the county's Department of Health and Human Services contact and try to persuade the mentally ill to get treatment. Of 125 people identified as dangerous, or potential Laura’s Law candidates by IHOT, just 10 got treatment.

Last year, the legislature passed a new law declaring that funds from the 2004 California Mental Health Services Act could be used to implement Laura’s Law. This week, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to ask the DHHS to organize a team to prepare a plan for implementation. Only Bill Horn voted no.

Seizing Assets Without Criminal Charges

You don’t have to be charged with a crime to have your car, cash, weapons and anything else on your person confiscated by law enforcement.

Since 1984 the federal Equitable Sharing Program has allowed local police agencies to seize the assets from people suspected of having committed drug or other offenses and then ask the feds to “adopt” those assets.

The federal government then divides up the total value of the adopted assets and gives 80 percent of the value to local police departments, even when no charges are filed.

This policy drives civil libertarians crazy and has led to abuse by some agencies.

In San Diego, seized funds allowed the San Diego Police Department to spend $1.9 million on helicopters, Oceanside Police to finance a $243,000 BearCat armored police vehicle, and El Cajon’s department to purchase a “throwbot” which SWAT teams throw into dangerous buildings.

New federal rules disallowing the “adoption” of funds, instituted by Attorney General Eric Holder, may not impact the practice much as local agencies can still operate under state seizure laws.