Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Public Safety

San Diego Sheriff: 'Nothing Could Be Further From Truth' Than Approval Of Santee Vigilantes

A San Diego County Sheriff's Department vehicle is parked in this undated photo.
Alexander Nguyen
A San Diego County Sheriff's Department vehicle is parked in this undated photo.

In recent days, a group of armed vigilantes in Santee have stood watch outside local shopping centers. They said they’re responding to protests that have broken out in the area against police violence.

After a protest in La Mesa on Saturday was followed by the looting and burning of stores and banks, two of these vigilantes posted video to social media, claiming the group has the backing of law enforcement.

“Ya know, the thing is, this is about defending and protecting personal property and people, and hopefully it’ll be okay down here, but we’ve got permission by the Santee sheriff’s department to be down here,” says an unidentified speaker in the video posted to Facebook on Sunday. They also claim to be part of a private Facebook group with thousands of members.


Santee itself has no Sheriff's or Police Department, but the San Diego County Sheriff's Department does have a station there.

RELATED: San Diego Sheriff Finds No Ground To Charge Santee Man Wearing KKK-Style Hood At Supermarket

The Sheriff’s Department said it knows about the claims, but “nothing could be further from the truth,” according to a statement given to KPBS.

Lieutenant Steve Bodine from the Sheriff's Department station in Santee told KPBS that the department has the resources to monitor protests, and that people are being told not to do the work of law enforcement.

The city of Santee has been under a curfew since last Sunday. It has now been extended until Saturday morning at 6 a.m. A protest starting at the Santee YMCA is scheduled for Sunday.

Corrected: February 22, 2024 at 11:11 PM PST
Editor's note: This story has been updated to remove the words, "would be" before "vigilantes."
KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.