Citizen panel recommends changes to San Diego Police Department
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A citizens advisory panel has issued its recommendations to enhance trust and allow community members to have a greater voice in the practices of the San Diego Police Department.
A 15 member board of citizens interviewed police chiefs, officers and community members to come up with 30 recommendations. One of them was to impose a pilot moratorium on pretext stops, where an officer may pull someone over for a minor violation, while looking for evidence of another offense.
The report said the practice has “negatively impacted the trust and increased the tension between police and citizen interactions during stops.”
The board felt the pretext stops should be examined and recommended a pilot program to suspend stops in two communities for a trial six month period to see if that would improve relations between police and the community.
Detective Jack Schaefer, the only police officer on the advisory board dissented and said the practice was a useful police tool to make arrests and solve crimes.
The report also looked at training practices. Board members noted that an estimated 30 percent of the recruit candidates each year come from active “on the ground” military backgrounds.
The report said the unbalanced workforce can lead to a certain “culture” in the department, “highlighting the premise it is easier to teach a candidate to fire a weapon than to teach them to effectively interact in communities of color.”
The board suggested that the department extend its reach to people from other backgrounds. The Reverend Gerald Brown who is the executive director of the citizens panel said historically black colleges might be one place to recruit new officers.
The recommendations also addressed officer wellness, especially in the area of post traumatic stress. The board suggested that the department initiate PTSD testing every six months for officers in the first year of the job.
The San Diego Police Department said it welcomed the efforts of the CAB. According to police spokesperson, Lieutenant Shawn Takeuchi, “seeking community input is a key component of community oriented policing.”
The recommendations will be presented at the city council committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods on June 26.