It’s one thing if an employee commits a crime. Nobody can control the actions of another.
But the question for the San Diego Police Department has always been: What did it know about Anthony Arevalos, the officer convicted on several charges after multiple accusations of sexual assault, and still put him on patrol? (A judge recently vacated some of the most serious charges, including sexual battery, after discovering the police erred in handing over evidence about the case. He’ll likely be re-sentenced more leniently.)
Liam Dillon finally found the answer. The police department knew a lot about Arevalos. Dillon reports in graphic detail what the department itself acknowledges after years of investigation by outside attorneys. Arevalos was accused of sexual assault of a woman he detained in 2010. The officer investigating the case believed Arevalos was guilty but a series of errors, restraints on the investigation and shoddy evidence gathering left the DA reluctant to prosecute. Arevalos was put back on patrol. Another accusation a year later led to his arrest.
Arevalos had dodged serious consequences from at least four prior incidents before that arrest. One of his colleagues wondered if Arevalos felt impervious to discipline for his actions. “I felt he believed no matter what he did, that he would not get in trouble,” the colleague said.
Chief William Landsdowne announced his departure on Tuesday, after accusations of sexual misconduct by other police officers was reported. His replacement will be his deputy chief, Shelly Zimmerman, who has also vowed to end the misconduct. But the new chief has to step down in four years. “Last year, Zimmerman enrolled in a voluntary retirement program that requires she leave the police force by March 1, 2018,” Halverstadt reported. That program, of course, is DROP — the deferred retirement option program — which allows officers to retire and begin collecting a pension in an account they can’t touch for five years while they continue to work.
• Two of Arevalos’ victims weren’t happy with the choice of Zimmerman for the top cop job, according to NBC San Diego.
• The U-T says Zimmerman “will bring to the job an infectious enthusiasm to improve the department.”
Blackfish’s Big Claims
The popular documentary film Blackfish has made a big splash, drawing protesters to SeaWorld and sending musical acts fleeing from their planned concerts there to protect their image. Lisa Halverstadt launched a quest to understand the film and SeaWorld’s place in San Diego and whether it was in jeopardy. Here she vets the five big claims Blackfish makes about SeaWorld.
• On Thursday, Sea World accused a government oversight employee of unethically turning over documents to the documentary film makers, and demanded she be removed from her job.
Follow the Water: San Diego Explained
It may be raining outside, but make no doubt about it, we’ve got major drought concerns in San Diego. While much of our water still comes down to us courtesy of a Los Angeles agency, we’re not nearly as dependent on that source as we once were. Halverstadt teamed up with NBC San Diego’s Catherine Garcia to show where San Diego has been getting its other water from recently in our most recent San Diego Explained.
GMO Labeling, Part Two
That same drought has many worried about our region’s continued ability to feed the rest of the country. Food blogger Clare Leschin-Hoar broke down how much water it takes to grow our food (nearly five gallons for one walnut), and also discussed the revival of an effort to label genetically engineered food. Voters shot down an effort to label so-called “GMO” food in 2012, but this effort is different. “Unlike Prop. 37, this measure will be decided by legislators, not voters,” Leschin-Hoar wrote.
Border Patrol Report “Damning”
On the heels of San Diego’s own troubled law enforcement situation, the LA Times wrote about their own investigation into our region’s border patrol and found a “lack of diligence” in investigating U.S. agents who had fired their weapons. “Border Patrol agents have deliberately stepped in the path of cars apparently to justify shooting at the drivers and have fired in frustration at people throwing rocks from the Mexican side of the border,” they reported.
• The San Diego Blood Bank says it needs blood donations like California needs rain: desperately.
• The storage center downtown that allows the homeless to temporarily store their belongings has finally found a permanent home.
• Is nothing sacred? A man accused of robbing a troop of girl scouts selling cookies has been arrested in Escondido.
• No, nothing is sacred. Bronze flower vases that sit atop the graves of deceased veterans are constantly being stolen and replaced in one cemetery on Imperial Avenue.
• After Sheriff Bill Gore declined to challenge it, the court ruling that would loosen the rules for Californians who want to carry concealed weapons will be challenged by Attorney General Kamala Harris.
• Usually we don’t plan on blowing up Canadian navy ships and sinking them off of Mission Beach for fun. But these are unusual times we live in.
Nuclear Power Plant Garage Sale
“How would a horizontal boring mill look in your living room? Or perhaps a sliding bed lathe in your garage?” 10 News reported that over 4000 items from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will be auctioned off next month, many as souvenirs. The auction is just the beginning of decommissioning the power plant, which failed quietly (thank heavens) after problems were found with key replacement parts that had been installed.
Southern California Edison, which still thinks it should ratepayers need to help with the enormous cost of the power plants failure, is hopeful that proceeds from the auction will benefit only their company. “The revenues technically reduce what the rate payers owe investors for the plant,” their spokeswoman said. Such generosity!