Cortez speaks out against deputies transgressions
July 20, 2010
OPINION by JOE CORTEZ
The video blog released by KCCN.TV depicting the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department activities is extremely disturbing. To be fair, it should be noted that the posted video contains excerpts of a real event interspersed with video recreating the event. As viewers, we do not have all the information surrounding the April, 2008 incident that is needed to make a definitive judgment.
I strongly believe that local law enforcement agencies are the gatekeepers for upholding the rights of all individuals. Our citizens must have confidence that our deputies are working in their best interest by applying our laws fairly, justly, and compassionately. It is the responsibility of the Sheriff to set the highest standards of accountability to ensure our deputies function within the law, and further, that we break the ‘Code of Silence’ that stands in the way of deputies bringing to light any egregious actions of their peers.
It is troubling that no patrol supervisor appeared to be on scene to offer guidance and assistance on this call. Patrol sergeants are the ‘keepers of the standards’ and it is essential that they be present and available on high profile incidents to ensure it is handled prudently and appropriately. In these situations, it is imperative that sufficient patrol supervision is provided on a daily basis to avoid situations just as this.
As your Sheriff, I will have zero tolerance for the violation of our constitutional rights, just as I have for 36 years in law enforcement, including 15 years as a chief of police. When we find that constitutional rights have been intentionally violated, I will not hesitate in bringing these matters to the attention of the FBI’s Office of Civil Rights, in addition to any disciplinary action or criminal charges that we take on the local level.
We cannot afford to have the trust and faith of our citizens undermined by the over zealousness of a few who may feel they are above the law.
Joe Cortez is the former Chief of Police for the City of Pismo Beach, and a 30-year law enforcement veteran who has served 15 years as a chief of police. He is currently a candidate for Sheriff of San Luis Obispo County.