SDPD Chief holds press conference to address "rewards for arrests" controversy

Posted at 5:43 PM, Mar 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-16 20:54:51-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - On Friday, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit held a press conference to address the controversy surrounding the recent “awards for arrests” program email.


It was the chief’s first press conference on a department matter since taking the seat two weeks ago. He announced that a formal investigation had been launched to figure out how the program details were sent out to officers without getting prior approval from supervisors.


10News broke the story earlier this week, after a San Diego police officer approached Team 10 to share information about a program email he found “unethical”.


The email was sent last Friday from a sergeant to more than 90 officers in SDPD’s Southern Division. It outlined a new voluntary program offering points to officers who make more drug arrests and give out more drug citations. The highest point-earners would have the opportunity to work in specialized units for up to a month.


“Let me make this very clear. San Diego Police Department doesn't have a quota system,” said Nisleit on Friday. “I can tell you right now [that] this program was never authorized, nor was it ever implemented and nor did anybody ever receive any rewards for making arrest,” he added, along with, “This program was never intended to target anyone from a specific group, race or socio-economic class.”


However, the timeline would suggest that the program was briefly implemented. The email was released last Friday morning. The chief says he stopped the program last Saturday. An official retraction email was sent Monday afternoon.


Chief Nisleit told reporters he reviewed the number of arrests in the Southern Division and they have not spiked, suggesting officers were not participating in any incentive program.


The original email sent by the sergeant reads in part, “there are similar programs going on in other divisions.” The chief told reporters he has no knowledge of any other point system program taking place anywhere else in the department.


Any disciplinary action for the email and program are contingent upon the results of the investigation.