El Cajon Officials Agree With Report Citing Police 'Crisis'

Times Staff Writer

El Cajon city officials Wednesday did not quarrel with a consultant's report that the El Cajon Police Department is suffering a "crisis of confidence." But, they say, changes already under way are improving the situation.

Released this week, the report was done by an independent consulting firm at the City Council's request. It concluded that morale among police is low, officers are skeptical of their superiors and the department suffers from lack of direction and leadership. The Police Department may have been on its downhill slide for as long as 10 or 15 years, according to the report by the San Mateo-based firm of Hughes-Heiss & Associates.

But, according to Mayor John Reber, the negative trend has already been halted and an upward swing in morale is in the air. "You can feel it right now, just since the report has come out," Reber said Wednesday.

Reber said he and the other council members were pleased with the study's conclusions and are already working on implementing some of the budget and personnel changes recommended by the consulting firm.

City Manager Robert Acker said the report primarily pinpointed deficiencies in personnel and equipment, some of which have already been addressed in the budget for the coming year. Funds for 12 new police officers have already been budgeted, Acker said.

Reber attributed the recent internal problems, which culminated with the filing of a grievance by the department's captains and lieutenants in October, to poor communications between the Police Department and the city.

The $34,000 study was based on personal interviews and surveys of police employees, including former Police Chief Darwin Sinclair, who retired May 31.

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