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    Special Report

    City of Isleton

      Complaint #98-62

    Background

    The 1990/91, 1991/92, and 1994/95 Sacramento County Grand Juries recommended that the City of Isleton (City) adopt and implement policies and procedures. The 1994/95 Grand Jury further recommended that the City seek assistance from the California League of Cities in drafting appropriate polices guiding municipal operations. It was also recommended that the City establish an independent hearing panel for actions taken by the City Council with respect to reviewing the performance of the Chief of Police (Chief).

    The 1997/98 Sacramento County Grand Jury interviewed the Mayor, each member of the City Council, the Chief, Fire Chief, City Clerk, and residents of Isleton. The purpose of these interviews was to determine what progress had been made to implement the recommendations of prior Grand Juries. The Grand Jury was also concerned with the welfare of the City and its residents.

    Findings & Recommendations

    Finding: From interviews with elected officials and residents, the Grand Jury determined that the City continues to operate without personnel policies and procedures. When asked why these policies and procedures did not exist, the Mayor stated on several occasions he had not been diligent in pursuing this area. Members of the City Council could only offer the explanation that it had not been done. The Mayor also stated he was not appraised of what his duties and responsibilities were as mayor. It should be noted he has been mayor for over three years.

    Recommendation: The City immediately seek the assistance of the California League of Cities to develop personnel policies and procedures for each entity of the City. These policies and procedures should be completed and approved by September 30, 1998. The City Council must be more diligent in the performance of its elected duties to ensure necessary policies and procedures are in place and in compliance.

    Finding: The City has deployed a Police Department since 1923. The present Chief has been in this position for approximately 17 years. From interviews with the Chief and the Mayor, the Grand Jury determined the Police Department had no General Orders. It was also determined that no post orders existed for police personnel positions.

    The Chief indicated he sent General Orders to the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) in 1996 for review and approval and never received a reply. However, he produced a letter he received from POST dated February 1997. This letter recommended to the Chief that it was in the best interest of the City, the Department and the officers to proceed with issuing General Orders and a manual to each employee as soon as practical. POST also recommended that the Chief immediately begin the process of providing training to his employees on all critical issues which should be contained in the General Orders.

    POST stressed without General Orders there are liability issues if employees have not been provided written directives to guide their decisions when encountering critical issues, such as "...use of force, vehicle pursuit, and handling emergency incidents."

    POST further stated, "...to allow this condition to remain places unnecessary risk on the Department and the City. This kind of risk can lead to civil and criminal penalties."

    In spite of Grand Juries' recommendations since 1991, and the above information from POST, dated February 1997, General Orders were not issued to Isleton police personnel until April 1998, following discussion with the Mayor and the Chief by the Grand Jury.

    Recommendation: The Chief meet frequently with all police personnel to discuss all aspects of the Department's General Orders. The Chief must stay abreast of the myriad legal and technical issues of operating a police department and updating training, policies, and procedures. The Chief must also update the General Orders, as necessary, and promptly provide those updates to police personnel.

    Finding: The Grand Jury interviewed the Mayor and Chief on March 10, 1998. At the conclusion of this meeting, both were advised that all grand jury activities were confidential. They were further admonished not to discuss the questions asked by the Grand Jury or their responses to these questions with anyone.

    On April 22, 1998, the Grand Jury interviewed a former reserve officer of the Isleton Police Department. During the interview, this officer indicated that he anticipated a visit from the Grand Jury. He stated the Chief advised him that the Grand Jury was looking into issues within the City, and they (Grand Jury) would probably want to talk to him. As a result of the Chief revealing confidential information to this individual and several others, it is the opinion of this Grand Jury that this investigation was compromised.

    Finding: From the Grand Jury's investigation, there appear to be neither policies nor procedures established by the City Council for: receipt of, recordation of, identification of, and disposition of monies - whether cash, check, or money order. The pecuniary ledger established and kept by the Police Department lacks uniformity and conformity to the recognized standards used by most organizations whether publicly or privately operated.

    Upon the Grand Jury's review of the Police Department's ledgers of receipts for monies collected, a name appeared on the ledger indicating a receipt was issued to "John Doe". When asked to explain, the Chief responded that he only recalled one instance when a receipt would have been made out to a "John Doe". The Grand Jury's review of the ledgers showed seven entries listed as "John Doe" on various dates. The Chief's explanation was that the names of persons who requested an application for concealed weapons permits and paid the application fee were not obtained; as a result, the name "John Doe" was written into the ledger.

    While reviewing the receipt ledger, the Grand Jury noted the name of the Chief as paying an application fee for a concealed weapons permit. When asked why the necessity for the Chief to have a concealed weapon permit, he replied he did not need one. He stated he did not know the name of the person who paid for the application; consequently, he placed his own name on the ledger line.

    Numerous other inconsistencies were found with the issuance of concealed weapons permits:

      · Inconsistent fee schedule. There was no explanation as to the variance in amounts recorded.
      · The Grand Jury determined from interviews that the Chief took home large sums of money (cash and checks) nightly because of concerns of alleged break-ins at his office in the Police Department. Information obtained disclosed that on many occasions, money was collected without a receipt being issued. The Chief stated he wrote the amount on "a piece of paper" attached to the cash, and wrote a receipt at a later date.
      · During one month, the Grand Jury determined that the Chief took in excess of $11,000 from the Police Department to his home. No receipts were written for this money for over a month, as the Chief stated he did not have a receipt book. It is interesting to note it took one month for the Chief to obtain a receipt book. The Grand Jury believes this put the City at great financial risk if the unreceipted monies were stolen.
      · A review of the city ledger revealed many scratch-outs and different names inserted over the scratch-outs, with no explanation justifying the scratch-outs.
      · The ledger also revealed several entries of businesses seeking concealed weapons permits, with no individual identified.
      · The Grand Jury determined that the Chief continues to issue concealed weapons permits to persons residing outside of the City of Isleton in spite of the change in the law effective January 1, 1998.

    Recommendation: The City Council must immediately take full responsibility for establishing cash handling policies and procedures. Assistance for such projects is available through the California League of Cities. This project should be completed and reported to the 1998/99 Grand Jury by December 31, 1998. The City must also develop policies and procedures for correcting scratch-outs on the official city ledgers. The Chief is admonished to follow the law regarding issuing concealed weapons permits.

    Finding: Based upon the Grand Jury's investigation, concerns were raised regarding the City's purchase and distribution of peace officer badges. According to the Chief, eight badges were purchased for regular officers of the police department. Thirteen badges were purchased for the proposed "reserve officers". Both orders indicated "sold to" the Chief of Police, Isleton Police Department, with a San Francisco address. The thirteen badges were allegedly sent to the reserve lieutenant for distribution to "potential" reserve officers for the City. According to the City Council, the reserve police officer positions were never approved by the City Council; consequently, the reserve force was never established. It is interesting to note that the Chief indicated that he only wanted "four" reserve officers. The Grand Jury was unable to determine why 13 badges were authorized for purchase by the Chief if he only planned to have four reserve officers. The Grand Jury also was unable to determine why the badges were designated "sold to" the Isleton Police Department at an address in San Francisco.

    City records substantiate the payment for eight badges. However, based upon information received by the Grand Jury, the 13 badges were not paid for by the City. The Chief and reserve officer could not account for the 13 badges, and could not provide the Grand Jury the names of individuals in receipt of these badges, or who paid for them.

    Recommendation: The City Council should make every effort to retrieve these "official" peace officer badges. The Isleton City Council must develop and implement policies and procedures governing the purchase, issuance, and return of peace officer badges.

    Finding: The Grand Jury determined from interviews with the Chief and other city officials that official city mail is sent to the Chief's personal post office box in the city of Rio Vista, California.

    Recommendation: The City Council must ensure that all official mail be sent to the official mailing address for the City of Isleton. All official mail should be date stamped and logged prior to distribution.

    Finding: The 1994/95 Sacramento County Grand Jury recommended that the City establish an independent hearing panel for actions taken by the City Council with respect to reviewing the performance of the Chief of Police. This Grand Jury is aware that discussions have occurred during city council meetings. However, this Grand Jury is not aware of the adoption of policy, by the City Council, dealing with the performance of the Chief of Police.

    Recommendation: The City Council must immediately develop and adopt a policy implementing an independent hearing panel with respect to evaluating and reviewing the performance of the Chief of Police.

    Response Required
    The Penal Code requires responses to the recommendations contained in this report be submitted to the Presiding Judge of the Sacramento Superior and Municipal Courts by September 30, 1998, from: Isleton City Council

1997/98 Sacramento County Grand Jury - Final Report (Internet Version) June 30, 1998

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