SAN DIEGO -- Police Chief William Lansdowne apologized Tuesday on behalf of his department for a recent spate of officer-misconduct cases and pledged to do everything possible to regain the public's confidence and "repair the damage done.''
"I want to personally apologize to every citizen of the city of San Diego, as this behavior is not expected, nor condoned by me or anyone in the San Diego Police Department,'' Lansdowne said.
In response to what he called an "unprecedented number'' of accusations against SDPD personnel surfacing over the last three months -- nine cases total, five of which have resulted in arrests of officers -- Lansdowne outlined a seven-step program with a goal of "greatly reducing future incidents'' of wrongdoing.
The revised strategies include increased internal-affairs staffing by about four officers, more ethics training, an around-the-clock complaint "hot line,'' a review of the department's discipline manual and use-of-force tactics, psychological "wellness'' assessments during officers' annual evaluations and a series of meetings with all employees.
"At the end of the day, there is no excuse, at all for the conduct of the officers that you're talking about," said Lansdowne.
The SDPD's command staff believes the plan will help restore the agency's reputation, according to Lansdowne.
"I clearly understand that this activity, conduct ... (of the) officers involved in these cases has tarnished the image of this police department,'' the chief said outside downtown SDPD headquarters. "And we'll work hard to repair that, but it'll take years to rebuild that relationship, I believe, between us and the community of San Diego.''
The latest allegations against an SDPD officer came to light Monday, when the department acknowledged the arrest of William Johnson, a 12-year department veteran, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in the South Bay.
Johnson was off-duty when he was taken into custody by Chula Vista police about midnight Saturday, following a collision that left another motorist with minor injuries. He will work a desk assignment pending the outcome of the case.
Last week, SDPD officials announced that an internal investigation was under way into whether a patrolman used excessive force while arresting an allegedly drunk and combative man outside a North Park nightspot.
The officer, whose name has been withheld, was one of three San Diego police officers who struggled to subdue 38-year-old Shawn Allen McPherren in front of the Alibi bar late on the night of May 1, SDPD Executive Assistant Chief David Ramirez said.
A witness captured the arrest with his cellphone camera and later contacted television stations, which aired the images.
The footage shows the uniformed personnel crouching around McPherren, who was prone on a sidewalk, grappling with him while one of the officers punched him in the midsection or arms a half-dozen times.
The following day, an SDPD motorcycle patrolman pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence and hit-and-run allegations in connection with an off-duty Feb. 22 traffic accident on Murray Ridge Road in Serra Mesa. Officer David Hall, 41, faces up to three years and eight months in prison if convicted of the charges.
In late April, a judge ordered San Diego police Sgt. Kenneth H. Davis, 47, to stand trial on one count of stalking a fellow officer he had dated and three counts of making harassing telephone calls to her. Davis, a 23-year department veteran, could serve up to three years in prison if found guilty of the allegations, which came to light in February.
On April 11, an SDPD patrolman was involved in an off-duty dispute during which he allegedly assaulted a 17-year-old neighbor boy he caught smoking marijuana. The officer, a Mira Mesa resident whose name has not been released, has been transferred to desk duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation and a concurrent review by the District Attorney's Office, said SDPD Lt. Andra Brown, a department spokeswoman.
In March, 42-year-old Art Perea, a vice officer with the department, resigned amid accusations of raping a Point Loma Nazarene University student at an El Cajon home. He has not been charged in the case, which remains under investigation.
On March 11, San Diego police Officer Anthony Arevalos, 40, was arrested after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her following a traffic stop in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Four other women subsequently came forward and made similar allegations against Arevalos, who has pleaded not guilty to 18 felony counts, including sexual battery, false imprisonment, assault under color of authority and receiving a bribe.
Chief vows to address cop-misconduct
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