Chief: Many calls to SDPD misconduct, intervention tip line - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Chief: Many calls to SDPD misconduct, intervention tip line

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A telephone tip line set up over the summer, in the wake of 11 recent officer misconduct investigations within the San Diego Police Department, is still receiving "numerous calls," Chief Bill Lansdowne said Wednesday.

The tip line -- (619) 531-2672 -- was set up for members of the public, other officers or family members of officers to anonymously report problems or request intervention, he told members of the City Council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee.

The chief -- who takes the calls himself -- said he fielded around two dozen calls per day earlier on, but the rate has since dropped to 7-8 per day. He told committee members that people think their concerns will be handled if calls go straight to him.

"We've seen some challenging times in the police department recently," Lansdowne said.

The economic downturn is at the root of problems faced by SDPD employees, he said. Among the issues he's had to deal with are financial problems that result in divorce or loss of housing.

In response to the misconduct cases and stress faced by officers, the department started a wellness program to improve employees' health and morale. A string of officer deaths this year -- from crashes to gunshot wounds -- spurred strong participation, according to the SDPD.

Department officials also said about 40 percent of new recruits are coming out of the military, many with combat experience that have left some of them with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman pointed out that the SDPD employs 1,819 sworn officers. Committee Chairwoman Marti Emerald calculated that the 11 misconduct investigations amounted to less than 1 percent of the force.

"This is not a wave spreading, but a warning," Emerald said.

Lansdowne called it "a small number of officers in a very large department."

The SDPD has also in recent months added a lieutenant and four sergeants to its Internal Affairs Unit, implemented further ethics and leadership training for supervisors, initiated a review of its disciplinary manual and examined its use-of-force policies.

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