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California State Auditor Report Number : 2015-129

King City Police Department
Strengthening Management Practices Would Help Its Efforts to Prevent Officer Misconduct and to Regain the Public’s Trust

July 14, 2016 2015-129

The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:

As requested by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, the California State Auditor presents this audit report concerning the administration and operations of the King City Police Department (Department). This report concludes that strengthening management practices would help the Department’s efforts to prevent officer misconduct and regain the public’s trust. Since February 2014—after the arrest of six of its officers—the Department has been aware of the need to rebuild the public’s confidence in its ability to serve the community. Although the Department has policies, procedures, and practices that help guide its operations, we found that it should take specific steps to improve management processes to prevent officer misconduct and noncompliance with policies, and to gain greater community confidence in its operations. For example, the Department maintains officer investigation and discipline processes that comply with legal requirements, but the Department’s policy allows supervisors to handle verbal complaints about officers from the public in an informal manner, which may result in mishandling of a complaint, including not thoroughly reviewing the conduct issue raised by the complaint. Strengthening its processes for handling informal complaints will allow the Department to ensure that they are fully addressed. Additionally, the Department should provide more opportunities for members of the public to voice their concerns, such as informing the public that complaint forms may be filed at city hall or on the Department’s website.

The Department should also improve some of its practices related to citation issuance, vehicle towing, and community engagement. The Department does not perform regular reviews of the number and types of citations its officers issue, which it could use to identify trends and follow up with officers to ensure consistent enforcement strategies. Moreover, management at the Department does not document the internal direction it provides to its staff, which would allow the Department to hold its officers accountable if citation trends vary from management’s focus. The Department has also not fully updated its towing policy to reflect the city council’s directive from March 2014. Although the Department has prepared monthly towing reports that include a notation of the legal authority for towing each vehicle, the report lacks information on the reasons the vehicle needed to be towed. Such information would provide the city council and the community with additional perspective on the circumstances of the tows. Finally, although it conducts various activities to engage the community, the Department has not developed a comprehensive community engagement plan, which it could use to summarize its planned activities and strategies, and to establish goals and timelines.

Respectfully submitted,

State Auditor

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