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The deputy police chief who created a specialized unit in the 1990s to proactively investigate corruption and officer misconduct says San Diego should bring the unit back in the wake of recent allegations.

“I think it had a very sizable and positive effect on the culture of the department,” Norm Stamper, who retired here in 1993 and became Seattle’s police chief, said Tuesday on the KPBS program These Days. “And surprisingly, the officers bought it. They supported it, and that was one of the proudest moments that I can remember in my time with San Diego P.D.”

As I explained in this story Friday, Police Chief Bill Lansdowne disbanded the unit, officially called the Professional Standards Unit, shortly after he became the top cop in 2003. He continues to support the decision, citing greater investigative efficiency and financial savings.

The unit’s absence has received public attention only recently, following a series of serious and criminal allegations against 10 police officers that Lansdowne calls unprecedented in the department’s history. The allegations include drunken driving, excessive force, stalking, sexual assault and rape.

In response, Lansdowne rolled out a plan last week to beef up internal oversight, expand ethics training, review procedures and create a confidential complaint hotline. Stamper said on KPBS that he supports Lansdowne’s plan but it should include reinstating the Professional Standards Unit. Bringing back its proactive investigations of officer misconduct would “absolutely” have an impact on the department’s culture and curtail the kind of recent allegations, he said.

To listen to the full interview with Stamper, click here. To learn more about the Professional Standards Unit and the recent spike in allegations against police officers, click here.

Please contact Keegan Kyle directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/keegankyle.

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