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The major lawsuit against the San Diego Police Department filed by a police sexual misconduct victim appears to have come to an end.
Attorneys for the victim, known in court papers as Jane Doe, and the city announced Thursday they’d reached a tentative settlement in the case, but said nothing else. The settlement should result in a hefty financial payout to Doe – something the city has said was her primary motivation in the case. But there’s a much bigger issue at play for the future of the city’s police department.
Doe’s lawyers wanted a court-ordered monitor to oversee SDPD and address numerous misconduct problems. In April, a judge said Doe had presented enough evidence of a “code of silence” within the department to cover up officer misconduct that a jury could hear those claims. The main example: Department brass missed numerous red flags about Officer Anthony Arevalos, the cop who was convicted of soliciting sexual bribes from Doe and other women.
So here’s the big question: Will the settlement involve some sort of outside oversight of the department or broad reform in how SDPD handles officer misconduct issues?
To this point, SDPD has strongly resisted outside oversight. The department is undergoing a voluntary review by the Justice Department to see whether there’s room for improvement in its policies on dealing with misconduct issues. And the FBI is investigating individual officers for possible federal crimes related to abusing their badge.
But what we haven’t seen is a thorough investigation or audit of how SDPD handles officer misconduct. Doe’s lawsuit appeared to be the best opportunity to get that. Once the settlement becomes public, we’ll know how much the department has agreed to change.