Cortez speaks out against deputies transgressions

July 20, 2010

Joe Cortez

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.


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gomeztogo

If you are elected Sheriff, will you give Hart his guns back?


For those that didn’t watch part III on YouTube the Sheriffs department still has in its possession 14 items that do not belong to them.


Cindy

gomeztogo – “the Sheriffs department still has in its possession 14 items that do not belong to them.”


It’s actually worse than that depending on which way you look at it. The deputies gave back 10 of the 14 guns so they only have kept 4. Can you guess which gun, one of those 4 is? That’s right!

If you take a jaunt around the net, you will find many sites carrying this story and a great deal of support for Hart. The calgun site is an organization of 56,000 members. They have come to Hart’s rescue and plan to make an example of the County LE. People are talking big $$$ for the violation of Hart’s 4th amendment civil rights. They want something done. Even LEO are posting on the sites and are very angry about what Murphy and his cadre’ did to Hart. Take a look at the movement on the net surrounding this story and it is growing by the hour.


gomeztogo

Yeah, since I saw this I’ve been looking around a bit and see this is a big topic with some hunting and rifle organizations. As it should be. Pretty black and white constitutional violations.


Some of Violence of Actions posts have me doing more research on his points, but so far nothing other than his hearsay.


I’m also trying to look for Harts address in google maps so I can see if his line of fire actually was a threat.


A funny point someone brought up at one of the hunting forums is that climbing a fence while holding a loaded firearm is a big no no. That is covered in the first few pages of the hunters safety course. All of the officers in the video are doing just that. Oops.


Dan Blackburn

The ‘suits’ on the scene were Det. Eric Twisselman and Jason Nefores, the overall supervisor. Nefores can be seen in the opening shot; he signed all of the deputies’ reports. He wasn’t identified in the video because sheriff’s department officials refused to verify any of the individuals’ voices or images, and he was one I was uncertain about.


Crusader

The video is also available on Youtube (with Mr. Blackburn’s permission) at:


moderator

there I fixed that for you.


MarkJames

Joe, regarding your opening paragraph. While we do not have all the information, the audio fills enough gaps for any reasonable citizen to conclude what occurred and clearly discern the intent of the deputies (by their own words). We can all certainly reach a definitive and reliable judgment, this can not be denied. The deputies themselves tell the story of what happened including the fact that Mr. Hart did not resist arrest, did not brandish his weapon and was less of a concern to the deputies than the criminal activities of the deputies themselves.


I’ll be voting for you comes November as will many of my friends and Christian brethren. We trust that you will restore the integrity and trust that our law enforcement officials and citizens deserve.


Thank You for offering us your services.


inverse Condemnation

——————————Joe said it very well, i’m glad he talks about Our constitutional rights


Cindy

inverse, whats with your personal agenda? Your singing a worn out song, sorry but your off topic.


moderator

removed link please don’t post it on CCN again.


hotdog

thanks, I was getting tired of that too.


Crusader

I appreciate that Chief Cortez has shown the resolve to respond to what might become the seminal issue in the coming election and I like the contents of his response. I am disappointed that Capt. Parkinson has yet to make a public statement on this matter.


While I appreciate the Chief’s comments “patrol sergeants are the ‘keepers of the standards.’” I am concerned about relying mainly on extra tight supervision as the means to ensure that things like this will not happen in the future. No deputy — and that includes those brand new to the force should ever act as Dep. Murphy and Det. Twisselman and the others did. Not ever.


That might well mean tightening-up entry requirements for new applicants to the department, raising educational requirements and providing plenty of on-going training. Given their bloated wages and benefits SLOC shouldn’t have any trouble recruiting higher caliber individuals than Dep. Murphy and Det. Twisselman…


Cindy

Right on Crusader,

Personally, I believe that all LE should be required to obtain a 4 year college degree and have maintained at least a 3.0 average. I don’t care what their degree is in, doesn’t have to be tied into LE as they might not always want to pursue that career. It’s about the fact that they can actually achieve a level of higher education. We pay them more than most college graduates and trust them with just about everything you can think of. We deserve to have LE that are at least as intelligent and educated as the majority of those they serve. This is the second way to gain respect IMO. The first way to gain respect is to give respect. Too many LEO don’t seem smart enough to know that these day’s, or so it would seem.


Crusader

Definitely at least a bachelor’s degree and you simply don’t move above sergeant (unless you’re elected as sheriff) unless you have an advanced degree. While I wouldn’t restrict the job to specific degrees — I actually don’t think degrees in criminology or “criminal justice” are the best background for law enforcement officers, there are some foundational courses that all law enforcements officers need. Courses in ethics, psychology government to name just a few.


While I don’t believe the job of a law enforcement officer qualifies as a “profession” I still think it deserves more than a 2 year degree from some community college given the often great power law enforcement officers wield.


thinkaboutit

There are lots of people in professions without a four-year degree. In this economy, this is becoming a rarity as people become hard-pressed to work low-paying full-time jobs and attend school. At that rate, there wouldn’t be enough qualified applicants to try out for the job until they were around 30 years old.


I submit that the overwhelming factor in problematic law enforcement officers is a deficiency of character and integrity to do the job, not the lack of a four-year degree. A certain amount of life experience, mental and emotional maturity, discernment, and intuition are just as crucial components to the job as book smarts and much harder to find. Some of the wisest people I know would write the messiest reports if it weren’t for keyboarding skills, but it’s the level of character that by far makes them most valuable among bachelor-degree counterparts..


And while education is a valuable tool, some of the best managers who have interpersonal skills are those whose manner and methods are more likely to be caught than taught. One can have all the training in the world. But if someone is a power-hungry jerk to begin with, there is no amount of college credits that will save either the officer or his/her department from certain ruin.


Law enforcement is most certainly a profession. In fact, it is a conglomeration of professions and trades with varying expertise rolled into one. Among them, LE officers are expected to be psychologists, legal advisers, marriage and family counselors, strategists, clergy, animal control officers, teachers, truant officers, referees, obstetricians, engineers, mechanics to stranded motorists and coroners.


Police academies and ongoing training in such practical applications, such as narcotics and updated methods in riot control and mutual aid for large-scale emergencies are helpful and needed, but four-year degrees do not teach LE officers all of these things. The exception might be business administration. But still, those officers are not qualified to supervise without extensive street experience. Again, if the integrity of the officer is intact and POST-standardized methods are consistently applied by supervisor and staff, the abuse of force isn’t likely to be an issue.


Crusader

“…Law enforcement is most certainly a profession. In fact, it is a conglomeration of professions and trades with varying expertise rolled into one…”


Poppycock. The limited educational requirements alone preclude LEO’s from being professionals. They don’t hang shingles out. Being a LEO would be more analogous to a tradesman.


thinkaboutit

“Poppycock. The limited educational requirements alone preclude LEO’s from being professionals. They don’t hang shingles out. Being a LEO would be more analogous to a tradesman.”


Balderdash. Unless you just want to argue semantics, you’re missing the point. Law enforcement officers by nature have to wear many hats. I’ve seen some highly trained numskulls in so-called professions, including lawyers (yes, really). Some of the smartest people I know are not in a profession, per se, or have acquired a “professional” degree. Statistically, they are by far considered blue-collar. They include mechanics, counselors, home health care workers, farmers, retired people and stay-at-home mothers.


I’m not at all against higher education…that’s not it. But when people who do not have the bachelor’s or master’s degree are considered less, non-“professional” or somehow less worthy or able than one who does have a degree in a so-called profession, I have a real problem with that. It smacks of elitism and class warfare. Again, you’re missing my point. I’m not talking sheer definition, but behavior. The proof is in the walk. Law enforcement officers can choose to carry themselves professionally or not. Doctors and lawyers (no offense), can be highly paid unethical jerks or not. It’s how one behaves that truly defines a “professional” or not. All the shingles in the world won’t help it’s most clueless wonders.


For your review:


Random House Dictionary:

pro·fes·sion (noun)

1. a vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or science: the profession of teaching. Compare learned profession.

2. any vocation or business.

3. the body of persons engaged in an occupation or calling: to be respected by the Medical profession.


(See how broad this definition can be?)


LAW ENFORCEMENT CODE OF ETHICS: This is an oath learned and committed to memory during training. many law enforcement officers swear to uphold this oath when they are hired, much like doctors do (Hippocratic Oath: “First do no harm…”)


It follows:


“As a Law Enforcement Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all persons to liberty, equality and justice.


“I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.


“I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminal, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.


“I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen PROFESSION…law enforcement.”

(caps mine)


If you consider yourself a professional, what oath have you taken to do your job well? Is it this comprehensive, demanding, and unpredictable? Are the potential consequences just as high? Like law enforcement officers, does your job go above and beyond the call of duty to the point of sacrificing one’s life – and on a daily basis, 24/7?


Considering these demands – which are by far constant testings of character and discernment than they are classroom expertise – does your own profession ask as much or more of you?


Just a thought.


hotdog

We need a sheriff like Cortez, who will be a peacekeeper as well as law enforcer.

If we had a decent sheriff, and DA, these rogue cops would be doing time and their private guns given to Matt for ‘safekeeping’.

This county and all the cities north of Pismo seem to be rife with cop problems. Bad chiefs who allow, or encourage, their people to violate our rights and break the law with impunity. SLO, Atascadero and Paso PDs are rogue agencies that need new management. Where are our lame city councils? Why haven’t they taken any action, (they are the ultimate authority)? What a bunch of clowns.


Cindy

hotdog, we don’t have the kinds of things occurring here in Atascadero with our LE that are occurring in the County and SLO. When the police broke into the (innocent) Dry Cleaners business and his home, it was the SLO cops that came up here with their warrant and dragged the A-Town PD into it. When the disabled resident got beat up in his house by an off duty cop while his elderly mother called 911, it was a SLO cop (or CHP?) that did it. A-Town has a few little cover ups, like Lindens gun and Gossens negligent driving when he trashed four cars but we don’t have brutality here. We have nice police who are respectful to us. They really are and most of us think that they do a good honest job for us because they do. There is only one jerk on the police force in A-Town that I know of who is a liar, a punk and a knee jerk hothead. He might already be gone.


Cindy

OOppps, Solomon’s gun, not Linden’s.


hotdog

It was the very things you mentioned that caused me to include A town. AND, you have a detective that will not return calls to victims on a $125 million theft originating in your town (Hurst). You probably have more white-collar criminals than any other area of the county, but then that might be slightly off topic.


coyote

Hotdog, the Hurst affair is not the jurisdiction of the APD. You don’t call the FBI to complain about illegally parked cars. Everybody knows that Hurst is a crook and there is no point in having local law enforcement be tied up in something that is better handled by an agency which has jurisdiction.


coyote

He is and now he’s in the Army. Adios


choprzrul

Well worded response Mr. Cortez. Your foundation in Constitutional thinking gives me hope that these kind of incidents can come to an end in our county. Enough of the culture of corruption, I truly hope that you win the election and clean house as you have done before.


Ninag

If Mr. Cortez has cleaned house before and is not afraid to do it with law enforcement, I love him! :)


slowtime

“It is troubling that no patrol supervisor appeared to be on scene ” ; Who was the guy in the suit? Were these not “Senior” Deputies? Why was this conspiracy buried for two years? Which supervisor “approved” the report. Was Hart’s citizen Complaint ignored? Why was he even procecuted? To quiet him it sounds like.


very troubling indeed……


Ninag

I agree with you. Why was this buried for two years? I totally agree with all of what you say . :)


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