Regarding the Oxnard Police Department “shooting tattoos” investigation:
1. The former OPD officer who originally reported the “trophy tattoos” continues to stand by his allegations. The officer claims that 9 officers (2 of whom are commanders), put so-called shooting tattoos on their left shoulders after they were involved in shootings with suspects. The officer has chosen to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, which is justified due to the long-standing lack of protections for officers who step forward to report wrongdoings.
2. Attorney Ron Bamieh is still “skeptical” of these administrative findings. Bamieh claims that he saw two photographs of these shooting tattoos that were on two different Oxnard police officers. Bamieh, a former prosecutor for the Ventura County District Attorney, states that there are two questions investigators should have asked: “Do any of these officers have similar tattoos?” And, “What do these officers have in common?”
3. The OPD’s supposedly “independent” investigation was carried out by a San Francisco-based legal firm, Renne Sloan Holtzman and Sakai LLP. In September 2014 this firm was hired, along with another firm, to provide “Legal and Labor Relations Consulting Services” to the City of Oxnard for $400,000. Was the tattoo investigation a component of these services to the City?
On March 24, 2015 Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP also entered an agreement with the City Manager’s Office to provide human resources services for $240,000.
Given this relationship between the investigators and the City of Oxnard – and the clear potential for a conflict of interests – can we really trust the “independence” of this firm? Furthermore, what is the nature of their relationship with Assistant Police Chief Scott Whitney, who has been on temporary assignment as Assistant City Manager since December 2014? Were those who carried out the investigation directly answerable to a top official in the Oxnard Police Department?
4. The investigation has taken nearly a year since the tattoos were originally reported to OPD in July, 2014. A year is easily more than enough time for the officers to remove, or cover up, the tattoos in question.
5. The Todo Poder Al Pueblo Collective remains skeptical of the claims issued by the Oxnard Police Department’s public relations division (and uncritically repeated by local press outlets), which serve to confuse the public and keep it in the dark rather than enlighten it. Thus, we call on Chief Jeri Williams and the City of Oxnard to release a copy of the report on the investigation to the public. Given the track-record of the OPD in its attempts to cover-up or exonerate itself for its past crimes against the community, we feel that an objective and thorough public review of the report may result in the need for another, authentically independent, investigation – one that isn’t compromised by conflicting interests or relationships with City personnel.