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It’s been four months since a local police watchdog group received a hateful email that it says was traced back to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, but it remains unclear what, if any, results have come from the department’s internal investigation.
United Against Police Terror, the organization that received the email, filed a formal complaint with the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board, which oversees sheriff’s internal investigations.
The profanity-laced email called the group scum and compared the protestors in Ferguson last fall to animals, among other things.
At the time, the Sheriff’s Department would not confirm or deny that the email came from one of its employees, but it did launch its own investigation.
Since then, nobody from the Sheriff’s Department or review board has followed up with the group, said group spokesperson Cat Mendonca.
“It doesn’t give us any assurance that they’re going to find this person,” said Mendonca.
Mendonca contacted the Sheriff’s Department in October to find out about the status of the complaint. She said she spoke to department spokeswoman Melissa Aquino, who told her that the department was waiting on some responses as part of its investigation. Mendonca also said that Aquino told her she could only provide limited information, but would follow up in about a week. That follow-up, Mendonca said, never happened.
Indeed, Mendonca said that no one from the Sheriff’s Department or the citizens’ board has made any attempt to contact her or anyone else from her organization.
Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Jan Caldwell refused to confirm Mendonca’s conversations with Aquino or anything else about the case. She only said that she would not comment because it was a personnel matter.
State law protects law enforcement agencies from disclosing personnel information. That includes investigations into complaints and any resulting disciplinary action.
Citizens’ Review Board Executive Officer Patrick Hunter said that the complaint is being investigated but could not provide any information on a specific case.
“Complaints are received, we have the opportunity to speak to complainants, witnesses, deputies — anyone involved. Then our investigators put together a report for the board to review.” Hunter said. “It can take anywhere from two to three months, sometimes longer for things like murder.”
He also said that board investigations must be completed one year from the date the complaint was filed. After that, a copy of the board’s findings and recommendation, if any, is provided to the officers involved, the law enforcement agency and the person who filed the complaint.