Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several weeks, you’ve heard of the public relations tornado that tore through the Fresno Police Department and swept up Fresno Deputy Police Chief Keith Foster and other suspected associates for federal drug crimes, including conspiracy to distribute and/or possess with the intent to distribute oxycodone, heroin and marijuana.
In addition to leaving a PR nightmare in its wake for the Fresno PD, the charges also uncovered potential vulnerabilities in the personnel practices of the department.
These vulnerabilities found their way into the Office of Independent Review’s quarterly report, and were displayed among other recommendations for running the police department, trends in officer involved shootings excessive use of force complaints, and other statistics involving the police department.
Because we’re awesome, we decided to take a look at the review, and pulled that the facts that you need to know from the OIR’s latest report. You’re welcome.
Who is the Office of Independent Review?
The Office of Independent Review (OIR) is an independent auditor of the Fresno Police Department. It is responsible for making sure that questionable conduct is looked at to “enhance community trust” of the Fresno PD.
What is the purpose of the OIR’s quarterly report?
The report prepared by the OIR for the first quarter of 2015 shows a detailed summary of complaints. The OIR does not conduct its own investigation, but is given full access to, and monitors and contributes to, the existing internal affairs investigation. When internal affairs completes its investigation, the file is submitted to the OIR for audit.
The report also contains recommendations for changes to the police department and broader trends within the community.
What period does the first quarter reporter cover?
The reporter covers January 1, 2015 through March 31, 2015
Where do the complaints come from?
The inquiry complaint form (ICF) system
What trends does the report talk about?
The report noted one positive trend in relation to officer-involved shootings. As of March 31, 2015, the end of the first quarter, the department was free of officer involved shootings for more than five months. The last recorded officer involved shooting occurred October 20, 2014.
To put those numbers into perspective, the report points out having at least one officer involved shooting every month for the past several years.
What recommendations does the report make?
The report makes the following recommendations:
- Reducing the investigation time in officer involved shooting cases from one year to six months. Ultimately, the OIR would like to have the investigations averaging about 90 days by next year. This involves more coordination between the Fresno County District Attorney’s office, and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. As of the release of the report, the OIR and internal affairs were still reviewing an officer involved shooting from May 2014.
- Implementing cultural diversity training.
- Drafting a memorandum of understanding between the Fresno PD and the Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC). The OIR report observed that the facility seems to be the place most injured, and to be arrested, parties are taken for treatment. It also suggests that perhaps an agreement can be worked out to ensure HIPPA guidelines are followed, which protect patient privacy. According to this report, patient privacy rights would be preserved and crucial evidence can be retained
- Mandatory firearms qualification three times a year, for a two-hour training period.
- Implementing mandatory training requiring all employees to notify their bosses about any subpoena or voluntary appearance at any court proceeding, whether in or out of town, criminal, civil, or administrative. The goal of this is to ensure that police employees do not allow themselves to be placed in positions where their personal feelings can be said to endorse one side over the other. This would also require police employees to notify their superiors if they are called as a defense witness in a trial.
- Comprehensive review of personnel practices and police related to the hiring, selection, and promotion of officers.
- Independent inspection of personnel to ensure that they are complying with the Fresno PD policy manual.
- Review of policy that governs employees use of drugs and alcohol, and consider revisions.
Other statistics contained in the review:
- 7 audits completed in the first quarter of 2015
- 2 officer involved shootings (both within policy)
- 5 unreasonable use of force (all either unfounded or exonerated)
- 78 cases were reviewed that did not warrant full OIR investigation.
- 6 officer involved shooting cases currently pending review, including some from 2014
- 6 unreasonable use of force cases in the first quarter of 2015. Of those, 2 are pending, 2 exonerated by both the FPD and OIR, 1 unfounded by the FPD and OIR, 1 unfounded by FPD but exonerated by OIR.
- 0 accidental discharges of a weapon for the first quarter
- 2 officer involved shootings of an animal
- 0 officer involved shootings of a person
- 25 vehicle collisions
- 22 vehicle pursuits