Study exposes 11 officers arrested in SLO County

November 13, 2019

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

A total of 11 current and former law enforcement officers have been charged with and convicted of crimes in San Luis Obispo County since 2013, according to records obtained by UC Berkeley’s Investigative Reporting Program. [Tribune]

Of the 11 cases, nine were DUIs or related to drunk driving. The other two began as felony grand theft and assault with a deadly weapon cases.

But, the majority of the officers charged in SLO County over this period received some type of plea deal. Several of the officers’ sentences were significantly reduced as a result of the deals they struck with prosecutors, raising questions over alleged preferential treatment.

The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, however, disputes that the officers charged with and convicted of crimes received preferential treatment.

In each case except one, the officer’s arrest did not initially appear in the news media. But five of the nine DUI cases were eventually covered by local media prior to the conclusion of the court proceedings.

One case in which an officer allegedly received preferential treatment stemmed from an Oct. 2017 DUI arrest by the CHP in Paso Robles. Neil Patel, an off-duty Lompoc police officer who four years prior was the department’s “Top Cop, was driving with a blood alcohol level of .24, or three times the legal limit, according to his breath alcohol test.

A handwritten note in court records shows the prosecution and Patel’s defense attorney reached an agreement that the officer’s blood alcohol level be reduced to .19. The agreement enabled Patel to avoid a sentencing enhancement for having a blood alcohol level of .20 or higher.

Patel received a sentence of just five days in SLO County Jail after pleading no contest to a single misdemeanor DUI charge. He was also required to complete a six-month DUI class.

Having a a BAC of .20 or higher typically requires a person convicted of DUI to serve 10 days in jail and complete a nine-month course.

Another case involved a corrections officer driving with a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit. Yet his misdemeanor DUI charges were reduced to alcohol related reckless driving, known as “wet reckless,” in part because he “demonstrated excellent character.”

In the assault with a deadly weapon case, a retired lieutenant at the Men’s Colony reversed his Range Rover into a pedestrian in downtown San Luis Obispo, fracturing the man’s skull. Initially, the former correctional officer was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon with an enhancement for causing great bodily injury.

Prosecutors reduced the charge to a misdemeanor count of reckless driving, and the retired officer avoided jail time despite initially facing a maximum sentence of six years in prison.

The grand theft case involved a SLO County Sheriff’s deputy stealing bicycles from the jail that were donated to the bikes-for-kids program. The deputy initially faced a felony grand theft charge for allegedly stealing about $1,560 worth of bicycles.

But, prosecutors agreed to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor, and the former deputy received a 45-day jail sentence. Ultimately, he served 23 days in jail.

In some occasions, prosecutors justified the reduced sentencing by stating the officer showed remorse.

District Attorney Dan Dow said prosecutors do not treat law enforcement officers any different than citizens when charged with a crime. Dow released police and investigative reports about the cases which showed prosecutors acted within the court’s sentencing guidelines, even though charges were reduced.


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DocT

The article tells us what we already know: Cops are special.


Forget about statistics for a minute. Let me list just a few ways in which cops have more and better rights than serfs:


1. carry guns

2. wear body armor

3. ability to order people around and brandish weapons to intimidate

4. can kidnap any serf for any reason or suspicion

5. allowed to break all traffic laws on duty and most off-duty

6. enjoy general immunity from any and all crimes committed in the exercise of their duty (can pose as pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, hit-men, pedophiles….whatever illegal thing they need, they can do)

7. all health problems are considered job related and fall under workers comp

8. never get drug tested

9. are taught to lie, take classes on how to lie and practice lying in order to extract “confessions” and otherwise dupe people into self-incrimination

10. can steal money from serfs anytime they wish and for any reason they wish.


That’s 10 things off the top of my head without slowing down my typing….there’s much more.


Serf’s can’t do any of that stuff without ending up in jail, including lying to a cop. Cops are taught to lie to us, but we cannot lie to them…….


So, spare me your statistical crap-analysis. The facts are plain for all to see.


MrYan

If you remove the Lompoc Top Cop since he is a SB county cop, we’re talking 10 arrests since 2013. That is about 1.6 arrests per year.


It would be useful to know how many peace officers in SLO county there are.


Ca in general averages 200,000 DUI arrests per year. Population of 39 Million. This equates to a drunk driver arrest for every 195 drivers. So for every 390 Peace officers (195 x 2) you’d expect to see 2 DUI on average per year.


I suspect that there are more than 390 Peace Officers in the county. If so, they, as a population, would be less likely than the average population to be driving drunk.


Yeah that is a good thing, isn’t it?


With such a stressful job, I would have thought their numbers would skew higher than the average population, but it appears they do not.


oneofadozen

This is just a list of locally arrested criminals. Cory Pierce comes to mind. Feds took him down.


AmericaTheFree

And what, we’re suppose to be surprised about this? This protected class is not limited to SLO as there are towns and cities that share the same characteristics with SLO that are enclaves for these “losers”. Monterey County is rife with this type of BS, Imperial County is as well, as well as Orange County, and these are just some of the ones in Cali’ let alone across the country.

These are the people y’all should fear, not some immigrant crossin’ the border, not some terrorist halfway around the world but these loser POS’s that wear a badge and spout the “protect and serve” bullshit all the while breakin’ the frickin’ law with impunity and without repercussions.

Y’all use the fear of what someone may do that crosses our borders, or how terrorism if not checked abroad may make its way inside our country but turn a blinds eye to this type of crap and afford all police officers the benefit of the doubt? WTF?!!!!!! These POS’s are here and now, in your faces and patrol your neighborhoods with loaded weapons with the law in their favor; these are the folks y’all should be scared of!

Here’s a nationwide study of police corruption I’ve read and encourage any that really want to educate themselves about the proliferation of this type of crap to read. The first line should be of great concern to any citizen of SLO… “There are no comprehensive statistics available on problems with police integrity and no government entity collects data on all criminal arrests of law enforcement officers in the United States.”

To me what that states is without oversight, public oversight, that is both real and objectively impartial, this problem will continue.


https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/249850.pdf


panflash

Folks, at least for a few moments, let’s try to resist the temptation to jump aboard the law enforcement-bashing bandwagon, and contemplate the situation a bit. Then let’s allow our thoughts to surface before making more judgements.


Yes, there are “bad” apples in all levels of our LE communities. But ask yourself this: have you ever applied for a LE position? If not, why not? Let’s keep in mind that LE officers have to deal with society’s worst elements- all the time, not just maybe once or twice. And let’s keep in mind that our society is doing a bang-up job of creating more of those “worst elements” every day. And, in the meantime, it is becoming more and more difficult for LE agencies to attract “good” people to fill the LEO vacancies.


Society continues to pile on more and more restrictions on how LEOs confront and deal with the “bad elements.” And then, the progressive deterioration in our judicial system at all levels further complicates the ability to deal with the “bad elements.” Is it any wonder that many LEOs find alcohol as an escape from the difficulties they have to continually confront in doing their jobs trying to “serve and protect”?


Am I trying to excuse the behavior of the LEOs cited in this article? No, not by any means. But, as this doesn’t seek to excuse the behaviors, it does try to explain them. Yes, most of us are well aware of the factors mentioned here, but unless you’ve had the experience of dealing directly with the challenges that LEOs face- as I have- it’s a bit difficult to fully realize and empathize with the magnitude of the problem.


To begin, the LEO recruitment process must sort out the people who shouldn’t be hired in the first place. And you don’t adequately accomplish that by hiring not on the basis of who can best do the job, but rather on the basis of who the people are or who they “identify” as. Then, let’s try to return the judicial system to determining whether people on trial have actually committed the crime they are charged with, rather than seek factors that try to explain or even excuse their behavior. And that means citizens- such as those reading this right now- who serve on juries should make rational judgements rather than allow themselves to be so easily manipulated by clever defense lawyers.


Our law enforcement system, and the judicial system, are in crisis mode. It’s far too easy to just shift the “blame” for LEO problems such as those cited in this CCN article onto bad apples and pretend that all of us, as individuals responsible for the success or failure of our system, bear no responsibility. Should the “bad apples” be held accountable for their transgressions? Yes- of course. But let’s not pretend that just punishing the ones who have been caught is going to solve the root of the problem either.


There- that’s my pitch for the day. Go ahead- have at it. Who knows, maybe someone will come up with something we can actually hang our hats on.


Snoid

A perfect showing of how F’up SLO Co is. 9 DUI’s which could have easily led to multiple deaths. The max served, 10 days. Then you have the one who steals bicycles and serves 23 days in jail for his Heinous crime. Pitiful load of BS, all compliments of a spineless DA. and corrupt judicial system.


shelworth

I’ve been glancing at the Berkeley articles in the Tribune (while lining my bird cage and wrapping dead fish), and I’m really looking forward to next week’s articles on all the hero police officers that have saved uncounted lives and protected numerous homes and businesses….


adustum

Good cops do not justify or defend cops who violate the law. Good cops are appalled by such behavior.


AmericaTheFree

To start with I believe you’re law enforcement…

“Good cops do not justify or defend cops who violate the law. Good cops are appalled by such behavior.”

What a great sentiment but it lacks the teeth it should.

Do those “good cops” that do not defend or justify and are appalled by such behavior testify, or bring it to the attention of their superiors or the media as a last resort? Hell no they don’t! The most likely witness to lie is a cop, the least likely to have any consequences for those lies are cops! There are thousand of cops still on the job, still arresting folks and still testifying on the stand that are proven liars! Their are thousands more that are known liars and criminals to their coworkers that still on the job!

I know, I always seem to suggest some documentary on shit like this but at the risk of being redundant here ya go…

“The Innocent Man” – Netflix Docuseries

This series reads like a Grisham novel, partly because it’s based on his book by the same name, the only non-fiction law novel he’s ever written, but it’s a true story around cops and prosecutors that skirt and break the law to get a conviction.


DocT

Yes…..good cops and unicorns have several things in common!


Both hate moldy greens, both do not justify bad cops and both are mythical creatures.


Good cops? LOL. Where! I’d love to meet one and shake their hand, “How many corrupt cops have you arrested officer Good?”


LOL…good cops….


shelworth

I truly feel sorry for you if you think there are no good police officers. Most would willingly risk their lives to save you and your family.


AmericaTheFree

Most? When it should be all? Now that’s frickin’ comforting!


shelworth

A&E has a great show called PD cam (Thurs, 9PM), where you can see what they go through. You better hope you never need help, who are you going to call?


AmericaTheFree

I have watched it (once) and if you believe you’d get the other side of the story, the one where cops misbehave, you’re sadly mistaken. They have 30 to 40 cameras out with certain LEA’s on any given Friday or Saturday night so logistically speaking it would be impossible to show all of those feeds live to you. What they do is select certain feeds by the type of incident it is offering up and then present just those to their viewing audience. I kind of doubt they would choose one that has LEO’s misbehaving as they’d probably lose most of their viewing audience if they did. Besides, it’s a proven fact where body cams are required the incidents of cops misbehaving drastically drops off. Geee, I wonder why that is…

I have called the cops, on more than one occasion, only a couple of times with things that I was directly involved with, mostly when I see something I should report. I do this knowing that’s it’s crap shoot but without another option what should I do?

Basically I don’t put myself in situations where I could find myself needing a cop, if I find myself in one anyway I’ll deal with, if I can, rather than calling a cop.

All my post was implying is it’s a sad commentary to state only “most” of the time you’ll get a good cop when it should be all the time. It’s even sadder yet when someone admonishes me for stating the obvious.