November 23, 2022

Article at San Diego Union-Tribune

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Sheriff’s Department slow to act on policy reforms recommended by civilian oversight board

The agency has yet to rule on 16 reforms suggested so far this year, plus another one from late last year, a review by The San Diego Union-Tribune has found.

Early this year, after Omar Moreno Arroyo died in San Diego Central Jail following his arrest for being under the influence of drugs in his Julian home, the volunteer panel that oversees the Sheriff’s Department recommended a key change in policy.

The Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board said sheriff’s officials should make sure that the jail booking staff records the name of the deputy who explains why someone was arrested and the circumstances surrounding the arrest.

The seemingly obvious practice is important, the review board said, because when outside investigators looked at the events leading to Arroyo’s in-custody death in 2021, they could not tell who had answered the arrest questions during the booking process.

That information is often critical for determining next steps, such as whether a person might need medical care while in custody.

“It is recommended that the San Diego Sheriff’s Department identify who answers the ‘Arresting Officer Questions’ on the receiving screening questionnaire during the booking process,” review board investigators said.

Almost nine months later, sheriff’s officials have yet to act on the proposed policy change.

The Sheriff’s Department has yet to rule on that and 15 other reforms suggested so far this year, and another one from late last year, a review by The San Diego Union-Tribune has found. While several policy recommendations were issued recently, sheriff’s officials have allowed others to languish for many months.

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