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Police Review Board Makes Plea for Assistance

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In its yearly report released Thursday, the Citizens Review Board on Police Practices said it is not receiving all the information from the San Diego Police Department that it would like and asked for more staffing help.

The 20-member civilian board, created by voters as part of Proposition G in 1988, reviews all allegations of police misconduct. But it is unable to take complaints, has no mailing address and no telephone because it has no staff. Much of what it reviews or determines cannot be made public, because of state laws.

In a review of its operation that covers a period of one year ending June 30, 1990, the board said that, without more staff, the board “will be severely hampered in its ability to promptly and fairly review and monitor citizens complaints.”

The board reviewed 435 allegations of police misconduct during the past year. Of those, the department’s internal affairs division decided 43 had merit. One officer was fired, one resigned, one was reprimanded and seven received written warnings, of the 24 cases that have been decided so far, the board reported.

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Of all 435 allegations, the board disagreed with police internal affairs five times. By state law, the board can not reveal any particulars about the cases it reviews or why it has chosen to agree or disagree.

In its recommendations, the board also asked that it be able to review an officer’s entire disciplinary history. It now receives only a summary of how many times the officer has been disciplined for the same type of complaint.

The board also said that, in many cases of excessive force, an officer often uses a flashlight to subdue a suspect. The board asked the department to use less cumbersome flashlights that are less likely to result in injury.

Many complaints arise from “encounters that were initially reasonable and nonconfrontational but subsequently escalated,” the board said.

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It recommended that the department offer better training to “help maintain the civility and professionalism of the civilian police encounter and avoid needless escalations to violence and arrest.”

Police spokesmen said they will comment on the report today.


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