Monday, July 10, 2006

San Diego Police Department Withdraws From Warrant Task Force

In a recent guest column, retired judge Larry Stirling wrote about the lack of resources devoted by the San Diego Police Department ("SDPD") to warrant enforcement as a method of crime prevention. Now that the SDPD has fully withdrawn from a regional law enforcement task force designed to serve and enforce outstanding warrants, SDPD no longer has any officers actively working warrants. This will severely hamper crime prevention efforts in the City of San Diego. The real trick on serving warrants is to have every field officer be responsible for serving warrants, a policy that Chief Lansdowne refuses to implement.

According to Judge Stirling, the SDPD did something like this when he worked for them as an analyst back in the 70's. A warrant sergeant would show up at every line up and assign warrants to patrol officers. The warrant sergeant would pick up the results of the field investigation and then follow up.

SDPD uses a computer system called the Automated Regional Justice Information System ("ARJIS"). The ARJIS system can present warrants by priority, all the violent crimes up first, recency, those hot off the clerks desk, and geographically and all the warrants on that officers beat.

Officers should be told that their primary job is to find and arrest criminals and that following up on warrants is a great way to do that.

The ARJIS system, which Judge Stirling helped create, should have the ability to accept annotations on each warrant "inputted" by field officers who can let everyone else with access to the system know that they followed up on that warrant and what they found (i.e. "Defendant Caine no longer at that address according to current resident Smith-2-2-06, Officer Dudley, SDPD Badge number 1").

This policy would have the effect of chasing the bad guys out of the county as they got word from their neighbors that the cops had been there looking for them just an hour ago.

Or best case, they would be arrested.

This would also have the effect of having officers constantly nosing around people and places that are problems rather just cruising the streets hoping someone commits a crime on the hood of their car.

The regional task force is a great idea to follow up on the intelligence that the patrol officers cumulate during their beat times. If the beat officer learns that the defendant has fled to Phoenix, they can pass that information to Phoenix officials who should be doing exactly the same thing.

The citizens of San Diego should call upon Mayor Sanders to compel Chief Lansdowne to implement the policies outline above and return to participating in the regional warrant task force. Instead of manipulating crime statistics, Chief Lansdowne should focus on his primary mission: to protect and serve.

About the Author
: Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of
bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.

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