DOJ Issues Scathing Review of Calexico Police Department

Questions surrounding the competence and goodwill of the Calexico Police Department came to a head Wednesday with the release of a U.S. Department of Justice review outlining rampant internal problems, including a general lack of supervision, accountability and transparency. The 133-page report concludes a year-long federal investigation that began after a complaint accusing cops in the small border town of kidnapping and beating a man. It also comes less than a week after the filing of a federal whistleblower lawsuit by the city's former police chief alleging egregious corruption among city officials.

In addition to the assessment, the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services unit issued 169 recommendations aimed at fixing widespread, systemic problems within the department. The report did not address specific allegations of wrongdoing among members of the force, however, saying only that it was in need of a massive overhaul.

The federal probe parallels other reviews of troubled police departments around the country, including those of Baltimore, Philadelphia and St. Louis County, Missouri. But the situation in Calexico has been of particular concern for federal authorities in part because of the prominent role it often plays in the international drug trade. In 2014, the FBI also raided the city's police headquarters and confiscated a number of files as part of its own investigation. The results of that probe have not yet been released.

Mayor Joong S. Kim questioned the report's objectivity and said he has already requested an independent audit of the city. Reggie Gomez, the city's new interim police chief, similarly said Calexico has already taken measures to improve operations and transparency.

The Department of Justice announced its investigation in April of last year. The city’s police chief was axed 8 months later.

Read the Department of Justice’s full review here.


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