SAN DIEGO -- A six-year veteran of the police department has been suspended amid an investigation into an allegation that he exposed himself to a woman while on duty, the police chief announced Wednesday.
The announcement came just a day after another San Diego Police Department officer, four-year veteran Christopher Hays, pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanor charges and two felony charges of mistreating women while on duty.
Hays, 30, resigned from the department Wednesday. He is charged with misdemeanor battery and felony false imprisonment by "menace."
Chief Bill Lansdowne said the latest allegation involves a patrol officer who was taking a woman into custody on suspicion of car theft more than a year ago.
While taking the woman to jail, the officer exposed himself and touched the woman inappropriately, the woman told investigators, Lansdowne said. The woman came to the department in the last few days after hearing of the Hays case to make a complaint.
As a result of the Hays case and the more recent case, the department is changing its policy on transporting female suspects in patrol cars, Lansdowne said.
It will now be required to have two officers in the car when a woman is being transported, Lansdowne said.
Also, Lansdowne is seeking an audit either from the Department of Justice or a professional group of how the department handles misconduct complaints against officers and how it spots problem officers in advance.
The decision on whether an audit will be undertaken and, if so, by which group is up to the mayor and City Council.
Lansdowne declined to reveal the name of the officer whose suspension he was announcing.
The charges against Hays involve four women. More allegations are being investigated against Hays involving other women, officials said.
In 2011, Officer Anthony Arevalos was convicted of demanding sexual favors from women after making traffic stops. He was sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison.
The City Council has approved a total of $2.3 million in payments to women assaulted by Arevalos. One case has gone to trial.
A poll for the U-T San Diego newspaper and KGTV Channel 10 reported that 69% of those surveyed rated Lansdowne's handling of the Hays' case to be fair to excellent and by 2 to 1 those polled wanted him to remain as chief.
Acting Mayor Todd Gloria tweeted his support for the chief Wednesday: "I have confidence in Chief Lansdowne and I'm not surprised that the vast majority of San Diegans do too."
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