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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Saveslocounty

Chief Cortez provided a refreshing analysis of this video recorded incident. It is true that we did not see the entire unedited video. A wise leader would seek ALL available information when making a disciplinary decision. In this case, the fourth amendment was clearly violated as evidenced by what we were able to see.


The communication by Murphy regarding his written justification for the search with his “flowery” language is an indicator that he knew how far beyond the constitution he had stepped. Of course, Deputy Murphy is also an attorney with an active California Bar membership. His knowledge of constitutional law based on his training should be far superior than a patrol deputy.


Cortez acknowledging that there is a “Code of Silence” is a remarkable step in the right direction. Rarely has a law enforcement executive even discussed the existence of such a code. Openly identifying a problem is the only way of correcting flaws and improving the service to the community. I can’t over-emphasize the significance this approach to leadership within any organization.

Openly setting the standards and sharing consequences for failure to comply may cost him a few votes by the line staff. However, I suspect that the majority of the Sheriff’s Department staff would appreciate the support and dealing with problem personnel. As is typical, it is less than 5% of the staff that create all of the problems and have not been dealt with under the current Sheriff’s Administration.


The only clarification is that a supervisor was in-fact on scene in this case. A Commander was present but, he was not effective. Perhaps bring the command and supervisory staff up a higher level would cure the problem without increasing costs.


I am afraid that Parkinson’s failure to respond to such an incident is an indicator of his management style. Laying low until the media heat blows over is no longer an acceptable remedy to a problem. The proof of that approach is supported by the two police drug dealers yet to be sanctioned internally and receiving full pay while on administrative leave.


As a close follower of the Sheriff’s race, I can say that Joe Cortez has earned my respect and consequently my vote.


KatieEvans

I agree that Parkinson is waiting for this all to blow over. It often does but I don’t think that is going to be the case this time. The video and story have gone viral and is continuing to do so. Mainstream media hasn’t been able to pick this story up because the video is edited and they need copies of the original clips before their editors will allow them to report on this story. This appears to be a KCCN TV exclusive as the tapes were “leaked” to Dan Blackburn and the Sheriff’s Dept has gone silent on the matter.


Because Calguns, which is a California Foundation with 56,000 members strong have got involved, this story is going to reach National main stream media attention as they begin to defend the rights of Matt Hart, thus the rights of all citizens, while bringing those who are guilty to justice. I have been reading about their Foundation and the legal experts that they employ, they are a rather impressive organization that has reached milestones in the protection of the people’s constitutional rights, while challenging the court systems. I noticed that many LEO are also members of this organization.


Parkinson and local LEO should know that this isn’t going to go away, not this time and it’s about time that a bright light is cast on our real local justice system for the people of this nation to witness. I also hope that the AG and FBI get involved and do a full investigation into not just the actions of the SLOCO Sheriffs Department but the many issues surrounding the SLOPD as well. We can not tolerate LEO telling Citizens that “they (LEO) can do whatever they want”. This has gone too far. The citizens have been walking softly, I call on them to start carrying a big stick.


God Bless American, God Bless all of us.


hotdog

I don’t know why you say the video tapes were ‘leaked’ to Blackburn, he said on the radio that the victim gave them to him, that isn’t exactly ‘leaked’. I still can hardly believe there wasn’t a stampede of lawyers offering to take this on ‘pro bono’, what a delicious case! This could be a career maker.


And of course how many other cases like this have gone by the wayside in the ‘secrecy’ of the convoluted legal system. The DA should have quietly dropped this, the judge should have thrown in out, the lawyers should have screamed about it. Here we are over wo years later…


And Ian, where are you? What about those malfunctioning tape machines you have in your high falutin’ ‘big city’ dept’ that you claim to have so much experience with?


KatieEvans

Sorry, I assumed they were leaked because KSBY and the Tribune are having problems getting a copy from SLOSD.


blb24

Mr. Blackburn posted on Calguns website that he and Mr. Hart offered the unedited version to any news agency, the offer still stands and there are no takers.


Crusader

“…I am afraid that Parkinson’s failure to respond to such an incident is an indicator of his management style. Laying low until the media heat blows over is no longer an acceptable remedy to a problem…”


I wonder if Parkinson:


A.) Has so little confidence in his own judgment that he is genuinely afraid of responding?


B.) Is arrogant/ignorant enough to believe that citizens of SLOC “won’t notice” if he remains silent?


C.) Is waiting for his brother the attorney to craft a response?


It’s been seven days — more than enough time. I don’t see it being anything else. Parkinson’s non-response is a sure guarantee that I will now vote for Chief Cortez.


Crusader

I just have to wonder if Ian Parkinson is waiting for his brother (an attorney) to craft his response to this matter?


Fourth Amendment Violations in SLO - Bananas.org

[…] One Sheriff candidate already has said he'd have the FBI investigate the matter if elected Sheriff: Cortez speaks out against deputies transgressions – Cal Coast News Mr. Blackburn was interviewed on a local radio show from 5-7pm Tuesday night and, reportedly, the […]


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JordanJ

To District Attorney Shae,


You have sat on your ass for over two years and been a party to the continued travesty of justice surrounding the civil rights and the violation thereof perpetrated on an upstanding citizen, Matt Hart, by the San Luis Obispo Sheriffs Department and the sycophant’s at the prosecutors office, your office.


I am beyond outraged that it wasn’t until the video tapes were leaked to an investigative reporter that you decided to do the right thing. You are a real Son of a Bitch.


choprzrul

Bravo! Well said sir!


Crusader

Parkinson’s silence on this matter is deafening…


Dexter

It’s because Parkinson doesn’t want to piss off the good ol boys. He wants their support and in return he will just be a continuation of Hedges and his “look the other way” style of management


JordanJ

I suggest Parkinson is hiding because he doesn’t want to explain how 4 of his officers claimed that their video and audio equipment wasn’t working when they violated a local citizens rights, tortured him , illegally arrested him and then (we taxpayers) had to pay the man $198,000. Parkinson also doesn’t want to explain why the video recording at the SLOPD where the victim was interviewed after his arrest also malfunctioned. Parkinson doesn’t want to explain what action he took against his four “unethical”, “psychological misfits” and “dangerous sadists” called SLO police officers. Parkinson doesn’t want to discuss, what everyone in the SLOPD knows, he was bed mates with one of the guilty officers.

Parkinson wants to be Sheriff but he has already showed us how he will handle the rouge deputies while sweeping the settlements to the abused citizenry under the rug without a word of media coverage. We have all had it, this will not be allowed to continue. I would like to see Solomon replaced by the SLOCC and Parkinson busted down into the ranks. He is a poor leader, we can’t trust him to act in the best interest of the public but rather we know he will hide and protect guilty officers that don’t belong on the streets.


Crusader

Given the gravity of the Matt Hart situation and:


“I suggest Parkinson is hiding because he doesn’t want to explain how 4 of his officers claimed that their video and audio equipment wasn’t working when they violated a local citizens rights, tortured him , illegally arrested him and then (we taxpayers) had to pay the man $198,000. ”


I would suggest a real tough politico or two could pretty much end Parkinson’s ambitions to be sheriff before he ever really got rolling — a good thing. People are tired and they and less and less apt to put up with such utter sewage.


ososkid

How exactly is this speaking out against the officers?


Speaking out of both sides of his mouth both against and for the officers is more like it.


Once again Mr Cortez you pretend to take a stand while not really actually taking a stand


The officers are the gatekeepers of our constitution blah blah blah. What an easy thing to say. Once again youve deftly pointed out the obvious while failing to address an actual solution.


You say there should be better supervision but how? You say you have zero tolerance for violations of civil rights yet you tacitly defend these officers by saying that we dont have enough information.


I dont know what kind of officer you are, I am assuming you are a fine and upstanding deputy but Im afraid I see no evidence that you posess the leadership to do anything other than simply identify the problem. Youve offered no solutions that go deeper than a talking point. Give me solid and realistic solutions and Ill give you my support, but until then the only thing that seperates you from any other politician is the badge and gun you carry.


choprzrul

“…Im afraid I see no evidence that you posess the leadership…”


The evidence of Mr. Cortez’s effectiveness is easily seen by looking at the Pismo Beach PD. He cleaned it up and got it nationally certified. Excellent evidence of Mr. Cortez’s leadership and management skills.


ososkid

The Pismo police department is nothing but a bunch of jackboot thugs. They have no regard for peoples rights that is the last department that should set a precedent for how things should b run county wide.


nationally certified yippee, ITT Tech is nationaly certified too


choprzrul

Examples with solid evidence? Otherwise you are most likely a Parkinson fanboy that you are making yourself appear to be.


Move on folks, nothing to see here, just another troll.


ososkid

I dont like any of the choices. If you dont like one of the choices you cant like any of the choices since they are all using the same talking points. Thats the problem when an elction goes this long one candidate bleeds into the other


I will agree with one thing however, you are definetly a troll, and that “chopr” you refer everyone knows its schwinn


Go back to the University of Pheonix with your national accredidation maybe they will teach you that you saying the pismo police department is squeeky clean is not evidence before you go about demanding other people prove your case for you, a case your too weak to make


Typoqueen

‘jackboot thugs’,’ rights’ yadda yadda. Name specifics. Pismo had a great dept while Cortez was here and for that matter they still do. Look around at the other PDs. You don’t give specifics and you don’t have solutions. I like both Ian and Joe. But with SLO’s reputation I would like to see someone removed from the SLO machine and that would be Cortez.


ViolenceOfAction

I like how Blackburn left out the thousands of Oxy Hart had for sale, and the fully automatic assault rifle they got. Not to mention if you actually GO to the SCENE and look, Hart was shooting OVER peoples houses as there are houses behind his property on Farousse who’s occupants called 911 for help when the bullets whizzed over their roofs! And he had been warned by neighbors and the sheriff’s to stop shooting in that direction on previous days due to it being unsafe (I believe county ordnance is you cannot fire a weapon within 200 ft of a dwelling).


Now also, for you lemmings: Mike Brenler appears in this video. Brenler is SLO Sheriff’s SGT Dale Strobridge’s right hand man in his side business of representing and negotiating union contracts with city/county governments. Dale Strobridge is an AVID and very involved supporter of Cortez as he does NOT want to work for Parkinson again as he did in SLO PD. Now an unamed SLO sheriff staff member helped Blackburn identify the voices on the tape. The leaked tape itself. How odd….


PS. Hi Dan!


choprzrul

So you are contending that there was no 4th amendment violation of Mr. Hart’s rights? If they knew it was an outdoor shooting scenario, that would make it especially intrusive to kick down his front door and enter his home. This means that the responding officers knew exactly what was going on before they even arrived on scene. I am thinking that you might make a real good witness at the trial to right the wrongs committed against Mr. Hart’s Constitutional rights.


ViolenceOfAction

Not sure what they responded to as far as what info they had, but the neighbors thought they were being shot at. So they had to respond like someone was in fact, being shot at. Whether is was intentional or accidental, is irrelevant. Also had Hart given a crap about his neighbors, he would have stopped firing near and over their houses when he was asked to stop. Again, had he stopped when directed to on prior occasions, this never would have happened. But no, as usual, its about Hart.


As far the rest of the 4th Amend. violations, I cannot even begin to presume I am in any position to say yea or nay based on a totally one sided crappy video. Its going to take people who are A LOT more educated and informed than anyone on this sad little site to determine what was done wrong and to what degree, if anything.


choprzrul

“As far the rest of the 4th Amend. violations, I cannot even begin to presume I am in any position to say yea or nay based on a totally one sided crappy video. Its going to take people who are A LOT more educated and informed than anyone on this sad little site to determine what was done wrong and to what degree, if anything.”


In 1 paragraph you manage to say that you can’t presume about 4th amend. violations, but you can make presumptions about the intellect of those who post here.


I can tell you that some of the nation’s very best legal minds are currently working on the behalf of Mr. Hart and the officers and detectives involved will be pwnd shortly. This incident has gained national and international attention such that the culture of corruption is going to experience a tidal wave of civil litigation. You might even say they will experience a civil ‘violenceOfAction’.


moderator

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Kevin Rice

1000s of oxys? Sounds like a great felony charge that was never made.


Sorry, but I don’t care. Constitution trumps whatever B.S. you can pull out of your dark side. I stand with Hart.


Cindy

VOA- You sound so full of it. There is absolutely no indication that they found 1000’s of oxy’s on that video, in fact they didn’t find any drugs at all, not even a roach in an ashtray. If they had, they wouldn’t of had to concern themselves with a legal reason for opening the locked safe. It would have been a slam dunk as they would claim they entered the home, saw oxy on a table and that was the probable cause to conduct a search into locked cabinets.


Also Mr Hart lives on 2+ acres of land. His targets were clearly at a distance greater than 200 feet.


Crusader

ViolenceOfAction


You appear to be lying…


Mr. Hart was not “shooting OVER peoples houses” (sic) — we could see his range, from the shooting bench to the target in the video and it was all located on his private property.


If Mr. Hart had Oxycontin for illegal sale he would be in jail/prison right now.


If Mr. Hart would have had a “fully automatic assault rifle” he would be in jail/prison right now.


Sorry VoA, no sale here…


bruinsrule

This sounds like a threat to me. An obvious insider using a screen name “Violence of Action” and then saying “Hi, Dan” at the bottom? I say the admin should pull this IP address and see if it came from a SLO Sheriff computer. I’m betting it did. Is it just me, or does this sound like a not so thinly veiled threat?


Also, isn’t it bad enough that these guys violated his 2nd and 4th Amendment protections, but now, bringing up Oxy…. that sounds like a 14th Amendment trampling, too. What anyone has legally in their own home is nobody elses business, and should not be posted by a crooked cop (assumption, of course) on an Internet board. Were there any charges filed for possession of Oxy? Intent to distribute?


This story is getting dirtier by the minute.


Dan Blackburn

Matt Hart has informed me that shortly after Dave Congalton’s Home Town Radio show ended last night, Matt was notified by the Public Defender’s office that his guns would be returned (minus one lower receiver) as soon as a judge signs off on the deal. After two years and four months, a coincidence?


hotdog

Typical of our bumbling LE. Take our property and hold it for eons and even defying court orders at times.

As Dan has pointed out, all these problems come from the top. The crooked sheriff, DA and courts should have dropped all charges, returned all property and then charged the cops with false reporting and violating Matt’s rights.


Cindy

Dan or Matt (if your reading this), what is a “lower receiver”? Is it a gun?


Well at least Matt finally has his guns back , now the Deputies have to be charged for several counts of violating Matt’s civil rights, false arrest and filing malicious felony charges against him. He also needs to have his plea deal removed, under these circumstances I should think it’s possible to reverse it, does anyone know?


If something isn’t done to set an example these problems will continue to occur. We already know of 4 police officers who got away with violating Mr. Milnie’s civil right’s while causing bodily injury in San Luis Obispo. Ian Parkinson’s lack of action surrounding that incident will probably cost him the election for Sheriff and that will be a good message to all police management personnel. Cortez will clean up the County LEO departments and Matt’s law suit will send a message and put all the LEO on notice so that this doesn’t happen again. In the mean time all the other LEO who didn’t deserve a black eye over this will be vindicated. Incidents like this cause a lot of damage to the honorable and trustworthy LE. If we can’t trust our LEO then we are all in big trouble and it’s bad news for them to.

I have seen many LEO posting on some of the other sites and they are almost all of the same opinion, they are as angry about these rouge cops as the rest of us. They say they never would have done anything close to what Murphy and his gang did, they seem to hold him as the most culpable.


What are we going to do about DA Shae? No one is running against him. He can be recalled but we need someone to replace him. What he did to Matt is inexcusable and I have to believe that he saw the video.


Kevin Rice

“In firearms terminology, the receiver is the part of a firearm that houses the operating parts. It is sometimes called the body of the firearm, in the context of handguns (revolvers and pistols) it is often called the frame.


In strictly legal terms, in the United States the receiver is the actual firearm itself, and as such it is the controlled part (without which operating is impossible). Generally, the law views the receiver as that part of a firearm housing that has the serial number upon it. Thus, in the case that a firearm has multiple receivers (such as the AR-15, which has an upper and lower receiver) the legally controlled one is the one that is serialized (the lower, in the AR-15’s case).”


A receiver, though inoperable by itself, is legally the same as carrying an entire gun. Everything else is just parts.


Cindy

Hummm, I wonder why they kept the receiver? Maybe Dan can ask Matt and then explain it ?

I wonder if it is from the gun that Murphy liked so much? “This is the one I want”. Every time I think of Murphy deciding to take what he wanted I cringe. That guy is a thief and everyone went along with it! Mind boggling, it really is.


Does anyone know why the police would keep part of his gun, as I understand it, the guns were all legal. The dispatcher said that they were all registered. The people at the calguns website seem to know their stuff and they are laughing about Murphy calling one of Matt’s gun’s a machine gun. They also say his guns were legal according to what they heard on the video when the guns were being identified by the deputies.


Kevin Rice

Cindy,


As I pointed out, the receiver legally *is* the gun. They gave him back parts and kept the gun. The likely reason is the Sheriff is contending there is something not legal about the receiver. California’s laws are so complex and difficult to follow that many times only a court can legally declare if something is legal or not.


Here is a photo of a receiver (remember, this is legally a gun–you could be arrested for concealing this part in your pocket):


http://dynamicarmament.com/images/ADSLOWERS/ADS%20COMPLETESTRIPPED%20LOWERII.jpg


Example: A dealer was arrested for selling illegal knives. Folding knives are supposed to have enough spring force that the blade cannot just fall open (like a switch blade). The particular knife in question did not fall open, but with a talented and forceful flick of the wrist was possible to deploy (as I understand the story). Thus, the dealer spent thousands to defend himself and ultimately was convicted of a felony and lost his livelihood and freedom selling something his thought was lawful.


The problem: There is NO WAY TO KNOW if a particular knife or component is legal until you are arrested, tried, and a judge rules. You cannot ask an officer or the DOJ to tell you if something is legal as you will get a different answer from any given person. Even if 99% of officers think you are okay, one guy comes along and arrests you and you find yourself in jail. This possibility rises if they are looking to screw with you as Deputy Murphy clearly was.


Example 2: Rifle flash suppressors (illegal) and muzzle brakes (legal) are very similar in appearance and function. You get arrested for having a flash suppressor which was designed to be a muzzle brake. It is almost entirely subjective which side of the line you might fall on. Cop has a bad day and it becomes a flash suppressor.


Bottom line: The Sheriff is likely grandstanding and manufacturing some small contestable point regarding the lower receiver in order to retain some shred of doubt that the Sheriff is in the right. They will stonewall and refuse to return Hart’s receiver unless he spends thousands in court to prove the receiver is legal. Hart’s reputation will be marred by the Sheriff’s flimsy allegation.


The law has intentionally become gray in order to literally intimidate citizens away from owning weapons for fear of the hell that Hart went through. Meanwhile, in their hearts, these officers are all drooling and saying, “That’s exactly the gun I want!”


Crusader

Not quite.


First people need to realize that some lower receivers for AR-15 variants are on the list of banned firearms by the State of California — they are specifically listed by manufacturers’ name and model number. There are also nearly identical lower receivers — the so-called “off-list lowers” which are 100% legal.


The banned lower receivers can only be legally used if they were registered with the State of California in years past and only by the person who registered the firearm.


That said a banned and unregistered lower receiver is not illegal if it has not been assembled into a firearm. So while it “is” a firearm from a S/N standpoint it is not illegal to own an unregistered stripped lower receiver even though it been banned.


Kevin Rice

Crusader,


Thanks for your knowledge. You clearly illustrate how convoluted and ridiculous the law is! One part can be legal or illegal depending on who holds it in their hands! I’d bet the Sheriff is alleging one of these ridiculous technicalities to infer the appearance that Hart was doing something illegal.


choprzrul

For a clear understanding of “Lowers”,


I doubt that a majority of law enforcement officers in this state could pick out “listed”, “named”, and OLL from a selection on a table in front of them.


The fine people at CalGuns have produced a flowchart to help both owners and law enforcement navigate the convoluted CA laws


What are the chances it was accurately ID’d?