Chief of Police
Oxnard Police Department
R. Jason Benites
OXNARD POLICE DEPARTMENT
|INCIDENT:||Oxnard Police Chief releases findings from investigation of alleged “shooting tattoos”|
|DATE/TIME:||June 10, 2015 4:45 p.m.|
|LOCATION:||City of Oxnard|
|PREPARED BY:||Miguel Lopez, Oxnard Police Department|
CONTACT PERSON &
Oxnard Police Chief Jeri Williams (805) 385-7624
DETAILS: On July 8, 2014, Raul Hernandez, a journalist and operator of an online news and information website, reported to Chief Jeri Williams that he had received information that a specific number of past and present Oxnard Police Department officers had engaged in serious misconduct. Hernandez related that an anonymous source had reported to him that these officers had obtained a specific tattoo following their involvement in an officer-involved shooting.
The anonymous source indicated that a subculture existed within the department that celebrated officer involvement in such incidents. According to the allegations, officers received the tattoo only after their involvement in an officer-involved shooting. Hernandez’s source alleged that the tattoos were placed on the officer’s shoulder, and were not visible outside of the uniform. Specific details were provided describing the tattoo.
Of note, the allegations were circulated on the internet by various social media platforms, including blogs and shares to other websites.
Given the nature of the allegations, Chief Williams requested that this matter be formally investigated by an outside, independent entity. The City of Oxnard retained a licensed investigator through the Public Management Group of the law firm Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai, which has conducted investigations for many public agencies in California.
The independent investigation concluded that the allegations were unfounded, and the officers were cleared of violations of department policy. The investigation did not find any evidence supporting the existence within the department of a subculture that celebrates an officer’s involvement in a shooting.
The accused officers cooperated with investigators, and provided the investigators with visual confirmation. The investigators noted that none of the officers had tattoos that were consistent with the description provided by Mr. Hernandez. Investigators noted that some of the accused officers had tattoos that had no relation to officer-involved shootings or had no tattoos on their body at all. One of the accused, had never been in an officer-involved shooting.
Chief Williams stated “The Department takes allegations of misconduct seriously. This includes allegations of excessive force, as well as those allegations that compromise the public’s trust. I am pleased that all of the involved officers volunteered to be inspected, and that the investigation cleared them of any misperception the public may have about the culture of the Oxnard Police Department.” Chief Williams also added, “It is troublesome that word of the allegations from an anonymous source with unknown credibility was widely spread on the internet, and it is unfortunate some members of the public may never hear what the actual facts of the matter turned out to be.”
City Manager Greg Nyhoff noted that “It is critical that our police officers have the trust of the community. While I agree with the conclusions of the investigation, I do not condone any symbol or action that could be construed as glorifying the use of force. This is especially important in light of recent tragic incidents around the country. I am pleased that the Police Department took decisive steps to have this matter investigated independently.”