San Diego Police Chief launches internal investigation into "rewards for arrests" email

Posted at 6:55 PM, Mar 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-16 15:44:26-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit gave an order for an internal investigation Thursday into a program email that reports to reward officers for making more narcotics arrests.

Team 10 investigative reporter Jennifer Kastner spoke to a San Diego Police officer who blew the whistle on what he called an “unethical” program email sent out last Friday.

“It’s a reward system. A bounty system for officers seeking rewards for their arrests,” he said in an interview that aired on 10News Wednesday.

RELATED: Team 10: San Diego Police officer blows whistle on 'rewards for arrests' program

On Thursday, the SDPD told 10News:

There was a retraction to the original email sent out by the supervisor. That e-mail was sent out on Monday at 2:45 pm. The email confirmed the program would not be enacted and had not been approved.

Chief Nisleit responded by stating the program was never authorized and is not in line with the values of SDPD and is not something he would approve or condone.

Chief Nisleit will also ensure all officers in a leadership position through the Department understand the proper protocols for vetting and approving new programs.

Accompanying the original email was an attachment outlining the program details, including the point scale.

The attachment also detailed the overall goals of the program, some of which include motivating officers, providing opportunities to gain experience in specialized units regardless of tenure, and targeting areas with high crime activities.

On Thursday, 10News spoke to San Diego civil rights attorney Joe McMullen. He's a member of the National Police Accountability Project. "It's a clear violation of a law that California legislature enacted to prevent arrest quotas as well as citation quotas," he tells us. McMullen is referring to California Vehicle Codes' Ch. 7 Section 41603. "If you have some system where a peace officer's number of arrests is the sole determinant of a benefit for the officer, then that's illegal," he adds.

Police held a news conference at 11 a.m. on Friday. Watch the news conference in the player below: 

Community members also held a news conference to speak out. Watch in the player below: