By Dr. John E. Warren, Publisher
It is alleged that the San Diego Police Department has let a contract to an Israeli consulting firm for $240,000 to conduct an online survey of how citizens feel about the San Diego Police Department. This matter is an embarrassment to the City of San Diego and its citizens.
We already know how we feel about the San Diego Police Department and we have reports and studies to prove it. We have spent thousands of dollars on studying Racial Profiling and we know that Blacks and Latinos are stopped by San Diego Police more than any other group of citizens. We know that San Diego Police have already spent thousands of dollars with Public Relations firms supposedly on image building and recruitment without a real push to get police officers of color in a city with growing ethnic populations.
We know that the dollars spent for this survey fell within the “sole source” discretionary contracting authority of the Police Department and therefore did not have to go out to public bidding or require passage by the City Council. It appears that this was at the discretion of the Mayor. We know that we still have a disproportionate number of police stops in Southeastern San Diego with police asking Black males at the point of contact “whether they are on parole or probation”, which allows a search under the Fourth Amendment waivers that are a part of such conditional release.
Although these dollars did not come before the City Council Committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods, chaired by Councilmember Montgomery-Steppe, her committee should certainly conduct an oversight hearing with both the San Diego Police Chief and the Purchasing Department of the City government on the matter of this $240,000 survey. One should also ask the City’s Independent Auditor how many other useful ways these dollars might have been spent.
Let us not forget that under our “Strong Mayor” form of city government, it’s the Mayor that is over the Police Department, with the authority to fire the police chief who is an at-will employee. The Police Officers Association (POA) is not listed in the City Charter as a hiring or firing authority. If contracts must be let, then they should benefit the people of San Diego, at the very least, and certainly the people of the United States of America and not a foreign country for a local contractual service.