SDPD investigates controversial program intended to reward cops for drug arrests

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Police Department has launched an internal investigation into a planned program intended to reward officers for making drug arrests.

SDPD Chief David Nisleit said the program was never implemented, despite an email being sent out detailing how it would work.

The email has raised questions with some people in the community.

A protest was held at 6 p.m. Monday outside of the police department's southern division at 1120 27th Street. The organizer Tasha Williamson says there are still questions about why the email was sent in the first place.

Williamson, a civil rights activist, said the goal of the protest was to send a message to the police department that a full, transparent investigation is necessary.

The protest stems from the email sent out March 9 to officers in the department's southern division detailing an incentive program aimed at motivating officers to make drug arrests. The email was made public after an unnamed officer released it to the media.

At a counter-protest, pro-police activists like Richard Gomez said he believes the program was just a misunderstanding.

“I think that if it was intended, it’s a good policy," Gomez said. "I think that people have misread it. They’re using words like 'quota' and I don’t believe that that was the intent of it."

Nisleit held a news conference on Friday disavowing the program and saying the program was never authorized, never implemented and was never intended to target a specific race or socio-economic class. The chief promised to find out how and why the email was sent out.

"I believe the chief when he says the program was never implemented," said Williamson. "What I don't understand, as lieutenants and captains, how do you not know the approval protocol?"

Williamson is also demanding that the officer who came forward to the media not be punished for what he did.