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tv   Government Access Programming  SFGTV  March 7, 2019 10:00am-11:01am PST

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stef d.n.a.1-800-759-070manhanat
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>> chairman: the meeting will come to order. welcome to the thursday march 711th meeting of the government audit and
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oversight. i'm supervisor gordon mar, and i'm joined by supervisor walton, to fill in for supervisor paskin. thank you to the erica major, filling in for john carroll carol. and i would like to thank samuel and corwin at for staffing this meeting. do we have a motion to excuse supervisor peskin? >> thank you. ms. clerk, do you have any announcements. >> yes, please make sure to silence all cell phones and electronic devices, and speaker cards and copies of any documents as part of the file should be submitted to the clerk. items acted upon today will appear on the march 19th board of supervisors agenda unless
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otherwise stated. >> chairman: thank you, misclerk. miss clerk. i want to announce we're going to be taking some of the items out of order to accommodate supervisor brown's schedule and other considerations. please call items four to 10 foreclosed session. >> items four through 10 are various ordinances organizing lawsuits against the city and county of san francisco. >> chairman: are there any members of the public who wish to testify on the items that will be heard enclosed session? seeing none, public testimony is now closed. do we have a motion to convene enclosed session? we are now enclosed session.
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>>ci and i perform aut autopsies, reviewing medical records and write reports and also integrate other sorts of test and data in order to determine cause and manner of death. i've been here at this facility since we moved here in november, and previous to that is the old facility. i was worried, when we moved here, that because this building is so mucho larger, that i wouldn't see people every day. i would miss my personal interactions with the
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other employees.h t but that hasn't been the case. nice, spacious. we have lovely autopsy tables, and i do get to go upstairs and downstairs several times a day to see everyone else that i work with. we do have a bond, as i think any other group of employees that work for a specific agency in san francisco. we do work very closely on each case in order to wor determine the best cause of death. family members of the deceased. so in afa way, that brings us closer together, also. my name is trish, and i'm>> i an investigator, too, here i at the officenv of the chief medical examiner in san as an investigator here, i basically investigate all manners of death that cometh i go out in the field, isdic interview police officers, detectives, family members, physicians, anyone who might potentially be involved with the death.ed take anylly, i property with the deceased individual, and take careta
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and custody of that. i maintain chain and the custody for court purposes, if that becomes an issue later. then i notify next of kin and make any additional followups as necessary with regard to that particular death. i'm delivering the worste news that they can elivibly get. really working closely with the family and helping them through through grieving process is really where i get the gratification. >> my name is ricky moore. i'm a clerk at the san francisco medicalt examiner's office. i assist the pathology, as well as the the toxicology, and the investigative team. i alsond work very close with the families, the loved ones, and the funeral establishments. i started at the old facility. the building was old. sta it was vintage -- ithe shouldn't say old. we had a lot of issues, you know, as far as plumbing and things like that. and i had a tiny desk. so i feel very happy to be d
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here in the new digs, where i actually have room to do my work. >> my name is sue parring, and i'm an forensic toxicology supervisor here at the chief medicalalco examiners. we test for alcohol, drugs, and poisoning, and the blood. in this capacity, i oversee all t of the lab operations. f we perform all of the toxicology testing for the human performance andoman post-mortem. at the scene, k we would collect all of the evidence. and thend d.n.a. that was collected from the zip ties that she was bound with ended up being a coldct. tip to the suspect. that was the only inv investigative link thating connected the scene to theect. suspect. feedback. oftentimes you do a lot of of work, and you don't hear about the results of it.
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and once in a while you hear what you did had anrd impact on somebody. we can't spare her life, but at least we can bring justice to her life. the community has supported the work we do. we're really able to take n what we do to the next o level. many of our counter-parts in otherrts states, cities, or other countries, even, they'ldon't have the resources and the beautiful building b and the equipment necessary to really advance what we're doing. >> sometimes we go to court, whoever is on call may be called out of the office to go to various portions of the city to investigate homicide deaths, particularly, suspicious deaths. and we do whatever we can to get our job done. certainly when we think that a case has a particular natural cause of death, and then it turns out to be another natural cause of death, unexpected findings are always fun.
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>> how's it going, everybody.
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committee back in session.
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>> we're now back in open session for government audit and oversight. during the closed session deliberations, the d.a. o. committee took the following actions, recommending items four through six, and eight through 10. and item number seven, recommended as a committee report. >> chairman: do i have a motion to -- not to disclose the proceedings from the closed session? thank you. so we're going to call
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some of the items out of order in recognition of a lot of people from the community who have turned out here for agenda item number three at this time. so we're going to go to agenda item three. ms. clerk, please call item number three. >> it is an hearing to inquire why the sheriff's department as a law enforcement agency lacks a law enforcement policy in regards to mistreating inmates. >> chairman: i would like to pass it off to supervisor walton, who called for this meeting. >> thank you, chair mar. first of all, i just want to say thank you to everyone who showed up for this important hearing. hearing this morning. i want to thank the public, of course the sheriff's department, the public defender's office, the district district attorney's office, and the department of police accountability. let me just start off with a few comments.
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first i want to tell you what this hearing is not. this hearing is not an attack on the sheriff personally. this hearing is not an attack on sheriff deputies. so i weren't to be clear about that. it is also not about deciding guilt or innocence without due process. what this hearing is about is ensuring that investigations deputies and members of the sheriff's department accused of misconduct are independent, free from bias, adequate, and thorough. this is also about who makes the decision when accusations are proven to be valid. so let's talk a little bit boabout how we got here. immediately following ni election to the board of supervisors last november, i received an article in the san francisco bay view that discussions allegations of mistreatment and misconduct of sheriff's deputies, and i had also spoken with our public defender prior to receiving this, about some of the things that he's
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heard from some of his clients previously. and we had actually had this conversation for a couple of years, just about different things we would hear, and in the community, things he would hear on his cases. as you know, our late, great, public defender was definitely a strong advocate to make sure that clients weren't mistreated, regardless of what they were accused of. and so we started to have conversations and look at individual cases and look at some of the documented incidences of allegations against sheriff's deputies in terp terms of mistreatment in the jails. a couple of facts. in 2009, an inmate died in one of our county jails, and the san francisco medical examiner ruled it a homicide at the hands of sheriff's deputies. this is according to december 24th, 2010, and there is also other
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documentation to note. the last fact i will cite is on friday, february 1st, 2019, the san francisco district attorney's office dismissed charges on deputies accused of participating in and condoning and forcing fighting of inmates in our jails. the stated reason charges were dismissed is because it is believed that the sheriff's department destroyed evidence. i'm not creating this narrative. this is, in fact, factually documented truth that we know. this is not supervisor gone rogue. these are things that have actually been documented and found to be true. so there is no guaranteed transparency because of the personnel-related manner of allegations of misconduct, and because the sheriff's department has no oversight that ensures that these investigations are conducted in an unbias and proper manner. whether intentional or not. the police department is
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subject to accountability with a commission, why is the sheriff's department any different? the elected leader of law enforcement bodies should not have the 100% authority to determine the consequenses, if any, of proven misconduct on behalf of deputies. nor should the elected leader conduct its own investigations because it is impossible, virtually, for independent, unbias investigation, if that just be on the elected leader of a law enforcement entity. that is why we do not allow the fox to be in the hen house. you don't forfeit your humanity because you are incarcerated. you do not forfeit your humanity because you are incarcerated. rehabilitation, restorative justice, these terms exist because we know people can change and should be allowed to pay their debt to society without fear of retribution during incarceration. we know that there are
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allegations of misconduct. we know that there are investigations. we know that these investigations are conducted by the sheriff's department. that can no longer happen. so this hearing is therefore necessary to address these issues and concerns. we brought in the public defender's office to discuss some of the allegations of misconduct in justice so we know why we're here. we brought in the sheriff's department so we can learn how they conduct investigations and learn how to help them do better, and what the independent body should look like as we move forward. we brought in the district attorney's office to let us know how they have investigated allegations of sheriff's misconduct, and how they came to conclusions of whether or not to prostitut prosecute basen information. and we brought in the department of accountability to see how they conduct their
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allegations for the san francisco police department, to see if this would probabl possibly be the appropriate body to conduct independent investigations in the future. one thing i will say, as we hear from our reports here today, one thing that is also problematic is no matter who conducts the investigations, how thorough, and how vetted they are, and when the recommendations come, we have to have a body that is independent of the sheriff's department that also imposes what the punishment may be if we find misconduct, allegations of misconduct are valid. so with that said, again, i want to thank everyone for being here. i think this is an important hearing for us to have. and thank you all for showing up. with that said, we are going to bring up the representative from the public defender's office. i believe shasha boudine
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will be reporting on behalf of the public defender's office. and everyone who comes up to report from the four bodies we brought in, remember we have about five to seven minutes for our report. so thank you so much. >> good morning, supervisors. jeff adochi wanted to be here today to present on behalf of his office and his clients. so i want to acknowledge the void that his passing leaves on issues like the one before you today for the board, for our office, and for the entire city. i also want to thank sheriff hennessey for recognizing the need for independent investigation into these serious allegations. it is critical to the successful completion of this process and future investigations that the sheriff set the tone for compliance with departmental policy and respect for the law. here we all have a shared commitment to public
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safety, respect for the law, and honoring the public trust in our offices. regardless of who handles the investigation, it will be up to the sheriff to take appropriate administrative action in response. i would also like to thank supervisor walton and other members of the board, marv brown for being here today, and for making this issue a priority. the integrity of the criminal justice system depends on transparencies and the equal enforcement of the law. i'll divide my comment into two main parts today. first, the current investigation into the abuses at the jail. second, the process for handling such grievances in the future. as you are aware, more than 20 inmates came forward recently after being physically abused by sheriff's department staff while incarcerated. another separate group of female inmates came
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forward after being strip-searched in the presence of male deputies. of course, the people most affected by this misconduct can't be here today because they are incarcerated. but there are many members of the community who i know will share those men and women's stories with you during public comment. the men and women who filed those complaints are represented not just by the public defender, but also by conflict counsel, by private counsel, and some of them even represent themselves. like the major of people in san francisco county jail, the men and women who filed these grievances are, for the most part, resumed innocent and still awaiting trial on the charges that resulted in their incarceration. when those who are sworn to serve and protect us violate the law by ganging up to physically assault people in handcuffs and restraints, they commit crimes themselves, and they undermine public trust. when they are allowed to
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violate the law with impunity, when those who enforce the law are treated as if they are above it, the rule of law becomes meaningless. this is one of many ways our system of mass incarceration makes franchise less safe. it is one of the main reasons why i and so many others have fought so hard against building a new jail. through the investigation into the allegations, though it is ongoing, it is clear that there is a serious problem with sheriff's staff failing so follow the law and failing to respect their own internal policy. it is clear there is a lack of public confidence in the sheriff's department's ability to handle internal investigations and discipline. the fox guarding the hen house, as supervisor walton put it. now, back in 2015, the sheriff's department considered a significant overhaul to the internal use of force policy. that overhaul would have
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set a higher standard thunder the minimum legal requirements under the law. the proposal would have defined terms that today under the existing policy are not even defined. terms such as "reasonable" or "excessive" force. and it would have required regular deescalation training for all sheriff's department staff. unfortunately, those proposed policies were never put into effect, and so we find ourselves here today. more than three months have passed since these complaints at issue were filed. they were first brought to the attention of the sheriff and her department around thanksgiving of last year. what that means is that under government code section 3304, there is barely nine months left to complete the investigation and impose any administrative sanction on those found culpable. it is highly problematic to restart an investigation at this stage and to have the department of police
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accountability or any other agency take over mid-stream. d.p.a. does not have additional resources to carry out this investigation. d.p.a. has no mandate to make recommendations for discipline to sheriff's staff. and d.p.a. has no ability to compel interviews within the sheriff's department. finally, d.p.a. has no substantial experience doing investigations into sheriff's staff or under tosheriff's department policy. it is equal problematic to determine the investigative process ad hock, in mi midstream, without transparencies. how many staff are being investigated currently. are the investigations criminal, civil, or both. or are they being separated during this investigation? has evidence been destroyed or contaminated? there are more unanswered questions than my time before you today allows me to even ask.
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justice and the rule of law require that the complaints at issue today be investigated timely, independently, transparently, and thoroughly. the results of that investigation must be made public to the extent allowable by law. if someone violated the law, even sworn sheriff's staff, they must be held accountable. now, as to the broader, longer term questions about how future grievances against sheriff's staff should be handled, first, we need to prevent this abuse from occurring in the first place. as a place to start, i urge the sheriff to revisit the proposed changes to the use of force policy that were introduced back at the end of 2015. second, we need a commitment that moving forward every complaint made against the sheriff's department and its staff will be investigated by an independent authority. it is common sense that
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the rule must prohibit self-investigation. to understand why, consider a proposal to allow clients of the public defender's office to be investigated by their families or friends. the same rule should be applied here. third, we need consistency and reliability in investigating these incidents, and i don't mean a process that changes consistently. people making accusations, along with those accused, have a right to be able to rely on a set process in order to know that they are being treated fairly. this is an area where victims' rights and those of the accused, require the same due process. fourth, d.p.a. does not have the resources and mandate to take on all grievances filed against sheriff's staff. while there are an unsettling number of grievances file that appear to have merit, there are of course, and will continue to be, some frivolous grif vance grievancess
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well. it needs additional staff, budget, and a legal mandate to compel cooperation from sworn and civilian staff in the jails. and whichever agency does take the lead, these independent investigations must have some authority to act on the outcome. recent history clearly demonstrates why meaningful, independent investigation is critical, and why we need assurances now as to the integrity of this investigation. as you are well aware, last month the district district attorney's had to dismiss fight clubs because of contaminated evidence and botched internal investigation. this is unacceptable, and it cannot be allowed to occur in these cases. those who enforce the law are not above it. we have allegations of widespread physical abuse, along with degrading strip searches of women, and up to a dozen deputies or
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more are implicated. and we have no information about what investigation has occurred or who has been held accountability. liability, transparencies, sufficient resources, true independence, these are the fundamental principles of justice. they must be extended here where trust in law enforcement, the rights of the accused, and the safety of our fellow san franciscans, those condemned to the jail and those who simply work there, are uniquely susceptible to damage interrogation. i'm happy to take any questions at this time or at the conclusion of other comments. thank you. >> chairman: thank you, mr. boudine. threatlet's show that this was nine minutes. colleagues, do you have any questions for mr. boudine? >> so, i just have a
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question. just because -- i mean, these complaints that have come forward, i mean, there has been years that this has happened. as a legislative aide for 10 years in this city, i can't tell you how many families have come to our offices complaining about the same sort of thing, mistreatment in the jails. and treatment of humiliation, just as of the incident you talked about of women being strip-searched with men there, the male sheriffs. and every time, you know, we've given that information to the sherif sheriff -- but we never know what happens to it. the families have said that -- would come back and say there is nothing happening. so for us as supervisors, it was really frustrating because it was a dead end. we would make the
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complaint, and it was a dead end. and so as the p.d., did you feel when you were -- i know your clients came to you and probably complained, also, if they were being mistreated. so was your -- it sounds like your experience was the same? >> that's correct. in fact, in this instance, i personally represented four of the men who came forward to complain of physical abuse. the process on our end looks very similar to what you described, supervisor brown. we can reach out to sheriff's legal counsel, mark nicos, and out to the legal services, nick gratas and others, and we can file a grievance on behalf of our clients or assist them and filing a grievance, and that's generally the last we hear of it. in this case, i did hear personally from the sheriff herself, and i know she is aware of the issues and takes them very seriously. that provides some reassurance, that her
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personal attention has been focused on his issue as early as late november. however, we don't have any way to know what has happened as a result of her attention to the issues. >> okay. because for us, and for me, anyway, i would contact the families again and say, what's happening? has it improved? is there any movement? and that was something i felt, you know, because the sheriff is an elected position, that it was really, you know, the buck stops with that position. and so it made it hard to really follow up and find out what was actually happening unless you talked to the families. i wanted to know if your experience was the same? >> we had the same experience. the best we can learn is an individual client has been moved from san bruno up to 850 bryant, and that hopefully provides them some protection from the kind of abuse they suffered or from retaliation by the same
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deputies that assaulted them. that's really the most we can learn from these processes. >> do you think they were moving them because of the complaint? they would just move them around so they wouldn't have to be around the same deputies they were complaining about? >> certainly in some instances, it was at our request or at the individual's request. >> okay. >> so i know for example at least one client that i represented at the time, specifically begged not to be sent back to san bruno after a court date. >> because they were scared? >> correct. and i know that the sheriff was very responsive and made sure he did not go back to san bruno. we were very appreciative to that quick and timely response to his immediate fears. we don't have any information about what followup was taken to discipline or investigate staff for physically assaulting that man. >> was he safe at 850 bryant? how did that work out? >> that individual i'm referring to was safe at 850 bryant, yes. i know there have been
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other complaints, and i expect during public comment, you will hear from folks who have grievances related to conduct at county jails one, two, and four that appear in san francisco proper. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> chairman: supervisor walton, i just had one question. thank you, so much, mr. boudine, for sharing all of the information and your perspectives on these important and serious issues. >> in your testimony, you sort of raised some questions about the department of police accountability's capacity to really handle the volume of complaints around the sheriff's department misconduct, and whether they have the resources -- the adequate resources to do that, and also the experience that these types of cases need. but in today's examiner, you were quoted as sort of questioning whether they have the power to compel statements from witnesses in the same way that they do from the police
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department employees. and i was wondering if you could explain that a little bit. >> my concern is, to illustrate by example, if the department of police accountability steps in to conduct an investigation in a situation like this, and wants to speak with civilian witnesses who work in the jail and sworn staff who work within the jail who may be witnesses or may be themselves under investigation, what authority do they have to require those staff members under the sheriff's department to actually provide statements or cooperate? we know they have that authority with regard to the police. it would be essential to clarify they have that same authority with regard to sheriff's staff. as we saw with the fight club case, it would be essential to make sure that any administrative investigation conducted by d.p.a. is entirely separate or fire-walled off from a par parallel criminal investigation. there are other questions
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about jurisdiction, and this is one of the challenges of having a county jail located outside of san francisco raises. if there was a crime committed, which district attorney's office is charged with prosecuting that crime, san mateo or san francisco? similar issues would arise if san francisco were to send its inmates to county jails outside of san francisco or san mateo. so i think the concern is, what if a staff member simply says, no, i'm not going to cooperate. what happens then? what recourse is there? perhaps the sheriff is prepared to order all of her staff to comply, and that might alleviate some of those concerns. but, again, we need to have a clear process set out in advance. it is unacceptable both for those accused and those who have made the accusations to have an ad hock process invented mid-stream. we need no know to protect due process, exactly what that process is in in
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advance. >> thank you so much. >> thank you all. >> one more question, mr. boudine, in the many cases that you get of alleged misconduct, when and if there is a consequence or prosecution, etc., you almost entirely don't get information of what that consequences is or what has happened in these cases, even if misconduct is proven? >> that's correct. the only time we would learn about it would be if there were publicly filed criminal charges in court. if someone were disciplined within the sheriff's department, suspended, reassigned, retrained, fired, even, it would be virtually impossible for us to know what happened, why it happened, what the circumstances of that discipline were. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. >> and now -- and i just want to -- before we call up sheriff hennessey, i just want to reiterate
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what this is not about because i don't think the sheriff's department was in the room when i first started my statements. saying that this is not an attack on the sheriff or sheriff's deputies, but it is about the fact that we do have allegations of misconduct, allegations of misconduct are investigated, and they are currently investigated by the sheriff's department. that can no longer happen. so i just want to be clear what this is not about. with that said, i want to thank sheriff hennessey for being here this morning. and i believe she is going to come up and present for us. and, sheriff, we original set five to seven minutes, but i did allow nine minutes. so we will make sure you have the same amount of time. >> i will speak fast. okay. thank you very much. thank you supervisors walton, supervisor mar, and supervisor vallie brown. thank you. thank you for inviting me to participate in this hearing today.
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first of all, i'm honored to be your sheriff. i've spent meye my career as peace officer, serving the people of san francisco since 1975, and working to professionalize the department. i view this and future collaborations as a way to continue this process. as your sheriff, i have participated in numerous initiatives over the past three years. i have worked with city agencies collaboratively on many aspects, such as immigration, upholding our sanctuary city policy, financial justice to abolish criminal justice, fees and policies, bail reform, implementing t.g. n. training, and supporting and fighting for increased funding for their pre-trial division to get more people out of jail more quickly. i understand that being in jail can be traumatic. i have dedicated a significant part of my resources to making it less traumatic, all the while coping with failing infrastructure and serious understaffing.
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the direct result of a four-year hiring freeze from 2012 to 2016. our department is just catching up. i know the people in our jails are also among the most vulnerable people we have. i know that many inmates suffer from mental health conditions and substance abuse diseases. and like some of you in this room today, my family is also touched by isn't of these conditions. i also know that some of the people remaining in our jails are charged with serious or violent felonies. my job as sheriff is to keep everyone safe. and when they're not safe, i take it personally. we need to keep them safe from each other, safe from any excessive or unnecessary use of force, safe from the drugs or weapons that are smuggled into our jails. and i want to make sure that the people who work under me understand the expectations, are trained to those expectations, and are held accountable. to this end, we do
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deescalation training. this year was a difficult year. we need -- we require budgetary resources to provide quality training and education to staff to prevent things that happen that shouldn't happen. part of meeting expectations is conducting safe cell searches for contraband, illegal drugs and weapons. these searches are routinely performed to reduce injury to inmates, staff, and visitors, and to stop the illegal flow of drugs. last week at our women's jail, we experienced a fentanyl overdose, drugs that were smuggled in. our deputies' quick actions prevented a fatality. on december 3rd, 2018, i received several calls from the late public defender jeff adochi, and
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also surrounding misconduct. hearing the allegations made me feel angry, extremely concerned, but also determined to get to the truth. it is necessary for me as sheriff to keep an open mind and wait for the results of the investigations, ensuring due process for the victims, the complainants, and the accused. i cannot pre-judge. i need to follow the facts. i immediately opened an internal investigation and asked jeff to forward me any information he had. he did so, as did chafa. and my internal affairs unit started investigation of the location of the complaint the next few days, and adding othered to the complaint has they talked and found there were others who came forward. they also spent the last three months gathering all of the relevant documents, the video evidence, and talking to witnesses. i was out of the office during the month of january on a medical leave. when i returned, i became concerned about the pace of the investigations and realized others were also
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concerned. i spoke with supervisor walton, and i contacted the department of police aaccountability and toured the offices. the sheriff's department and internal affairs unit has nine staff with no other administrative support. i was impressed with d.p.a.'s operation. i felt confident that d.p.a. was the right fit to provide professional independent investigations. this week i began turning over the december 3rd assets to the department of police accountability. at the conclusion of the investigation, d.p.a. will provide me a report, including findings and policy and training recommendations. if d.p.a. finds that any of the allegations rise to the level of criminal conduct, d.p.a. will turn that investigation over to the appropriate law enforcement agency for the jurisdiction. i heard talk about what happens if it is in san
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bruno, and i have a case in san bruno that my staff discovered that is a criminal case against a deputy that has been filed in san mateo county. the first step in our conversation and collaboration today towards having all inmate and public complaints about staff investigated by an independent agency, and this is a process that will need refinement, conversation, and it is going to take some time to put together and transition. where there is misconduct, we will route it out and hold those deputies accountable. when deputies are doing the right thing and serving their community well, we will lift them up and praise their service. i have known many people on both sides of justice for more than for decades. i look forward to continuing the conversation and assuring that community and inmates' complaints receive fair and just investigations. i offer to anybody in this room, or anybody who is listening to this, if you would like an appointment with me or to talk to me,
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you can call my office. i'm open to the public. that's something i actually like to do. and i would be proud to hear from you. now, jeff had mentioned they had not heard anything from the sheriff's department. on january 31st i sent a letter to jeff about the course of the investigation. and i have a copy and you have a copy there. i won't go into it. but i will say that at that time i told them what i could tell them. and i will also tell you, supervisors, that we moved many of the deputies and replacer dome the replaced many of the supervisors at that location when those charges were brought. and i ask you to remember all of these charges are still allegations. we can't talk about -- i can't talk about the charges at this point. i'm not allowed to talk about the charges at this point. these are allegations, and we have to see where the facts take us. i also want to let you