Independent Police Auditor Notes Lag in Internal Affairs Investigations

The office of the Independent Police Auditor, led by retired judge LaDoris Cordell, conducted “unprecedented outreach” in 2011, according to its annual report released this week. As a result, the office received a 26 percent increase in the amount of complaints filed against the San Jose Police Department compared to a year prior.

Of the 355 total cases the IPA received in 2011, almost 30 percent—104 cases—came out of downtown’s District 3.

The report included 30 recommendations, which included: documenting the race/ethnicity of individuals directed by officers to sit on street curbs; adopting a policy to prevent officers from accessing criminal histories unless for official police business; and equipping officers with state-of-the-art cameras to record interactions with the public.

The time it takes for a complaint to go from the IPA receiving it, passing it to Internal Affairs and the IA investigation being completed and returned to the IPA in a timely manner continues to be an issue, the report says.

In 2011, IA closed just 22, or 9 percent, of the 246 cases that IA had more than a year to review, basically “rendering the IPA audit meaningless,” according to the report. This was almost double the rate of cases in 2010.

The IPA recommends IA close investigations within 300 days so that auditors will have at least 65 days to conduct a review. If a complaint is sustained, any discipline against an officer can only be imposed within a year timeframe, making timeliness key.

The reason for IA’s lag time, the IPA office says, is caused by consistent turnover within the office, which often brings in personnel that is not trained to carry out the specialized duties of IA.

“The Internal Affairs Unit is staffed by sworn officers: one Lieutenant, nine Sergeants, and
 five Officers, each of whom is assigned to IA for 
a two year rotation,” the report states. “These officers do not receive training at the Police Academy to prepare them for assignments in IA. Subsequent SJPD assignments or rotations fail to provide these officers with any experience in conducting internal investigations on fellow officers. It is only when officers are assigned to IA that they are trained about the IA process.”

To address this, the IPA recommended convening IPA-IA training sessions. But Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell says IA might be better served by assigning its duties to retired judges and attorneys. “You don’t need a gun to be in Internal Affairs,” she told the Mercury News.

The report did note a much better working relationship between the auditor’s office and IA as well as with Police Chief Chris Moore and his staff.

From 1993 to 2009, the IPA recommended 109 suggestions to improve SJPD policies and procedures. The office followed up on those recommendations in this latest report and found that 85, or 78 percent, had been adopted.

Click to read the 2011 IPA Report.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. Ladoris,

    Are you kidding me, bring in retired judges and attorneys?  Are you trying to create jobs for all your old buddies.  How much will they get paid?  As much as you?  Can’t afford to hire officers but you want to supplement retired judges and attorney PENSIONS.  What is wrong with that picture.

    Maybe you can research grants to get the state of the art cameras for officers because the city sure as hell won’t do it.  Might look badly on the financial crisis that they have money tucked away.  But we already know that.

  2. In a city that has failed, despite its Silicon Valley membership, to attract anything close to its fair share of high tech riches, the City of San Jose can at least brag that, besides hosting more weekend drunks that all its neighbor cities combined, it has also outperformed them in attracting police complaints. Hats off to LaDoris Cordell, she’s figured out how to do what the high tech industry has never done: tap into the creativity of local blacks and Hispanics. Their ability to create police misconduct anecdotes on demand is rivaled only by the local pothead community’s ability to have themselves branded as “patients.”

    Exactly how often does the city charter demand that our city leaders embarrass themselves? If San Jose’s leaders ran a house instead of city, the place would no doubt be an eyesore to everyone but the bums, wetbacks, and thugs of color allowed to crash there for free. The driveway would be rubble, the landscaping overgrown, the porch dotted with falcon droppings, the paint pealing, and the displayed Mexican flag tattered. The house would be mortgaged to the hilt, ergonomically furnished, outfitted with overpriced green technology, decorated with African art, and in need of a serious sweeping. Its neighbors would be Googling “arson + wood frame structure,” the county would be threatening to foreclose for past due taxes, and Lew Wolff would have his piece of the backyard paved for overflow parking.

    Ms. Cordell has missed her calling: she should be the star of a comedy show, one about how a little black woman a modicum of intelligence repeatedly dupes a bunch of politically correct, guilt-ridden idiots into giving her things and kissing her butt. They could call it, Animus and Envy.

    2nd posting

  3. Would uou really want some boss or superivisor telling you to wear a video recording device on your chest or shirt all day because we trust you sort of but want to accumulate video evidence of your potential wrong doing. 

    Good lord, I don’t think Ms. Cordell would volunteer to walk around with a recoring device, so why is she trying to do that to Police Ofiicers?

    You either trust people or you don’t.  Don’t try to micro-manage every detail of people’s jobs.  If there’s a problem with racial profiling, talk it out and work it out, don’t subject everyone to harrsament and minute scrutiny.  Seriously…. grin

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