Sacramento Sheriff’s Dept. Scores ‘F’ in Police Violence Scorecard

By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – The new Inspector General just hired by the Sacramento County of Supervisors to oversee the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Dept. may not know what a big job he has in front of him.

Maybe, for starters, and for some light reading, he should take a gander at the updated California Police Scorecard that focuses on the state’s Sheriffs, as provided by Campaign Zero, started by Black Lives Matter associated activists advocating on the reduction of police violence.

The statistics are pulled out of thin air – the first statewide Police Scorecard in the United States uses reports of police deadly force, civilian complaints and arrests from official databases such as California Department of Justice’s Open Justice database, UCR and the California Monthly Arrests and Citation Register.

Thirty-nine California Sheriff’s Departments scored 60 percent or less overall on the California Police Scorecard that compares agencies across the state in terms of police violence, police accountability and their approach to policing.

The Sacramento Sheriff’s Dept is on the interactive data map: https://policescorecard.org/?sheriff=sacramento

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Dept. didn’t fare well – in fact, it received an overall “F” score, ranking 39th (44 percent) out of 58 CA counties.

SSD scored 59 percent (F) on Police Violence, 17 percent (F) for Police Accountability, and 66 percent (D) on Approach to Policing.

Not a good performance for a department that eats up about 15 percent of the 2018 county budget: $507,960,000, or $482 per resident.

The highlights – or lowlights – in the SSD jurisdiction, included 21 deadly force incidents from 2016-18, and a Black person was 3.6 times likely, and a Latinx person .3 times likely than a white person to have that deadly force used against them, according to the report.

Citizens could file a civilian complaints – something the new IG is supposed to be looking at when he starts Jan. 1 in Sacramento – but of the 802 complaints filed during the 2016-18 period, less than 20, or only one in every 42 of those complaints were ruled in favor of the civilian complainants.

Overall, the SSD received an F in “Police Violence,” which includes “Less Lethal Force” – the use of batons, strangleholds, tasers and other weapons (although no data was provided by Sacramento), and “Deadly Force.”

There were 21 deadly force incidents, or 5.9 (per 10,000 arrests), according to the statistics. SSD used more deadly force per arrest than more than half, or 54 percent, of all other CA Sheriffs’ departments.

The provided information also showed that in 16 of 19 shootings (84 percent), SSD deputies did not attempt non-lethal force before they fired.

In incidents involving guns, the SSD never found the “perceived” guns in two of nine cases, or 22 percent.
There were 10 deaths and eight serious injuries caused by SSD actions – 22 percent of the people were unarmed, and 39 percent had a gun.

Sacramento County, in the eight policy areas that could reduce police violence, only meets one standard – requiring a warning before shooting.

In all other areas, the county is deficient, including failure to ban chokeholds/strangleholds, and not requiring a duty to intervene, not requiring de-escalation, not banning shooting at moving vehicles, not requiring comprehensive reports, not requiring the exhausting of alternatives before shooting and not having a use of force continuum.

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Dept. also received an “F” score in Accountability – there were 802 reported civilian complaints, and only two percent were settled in favor of civilians.

There were 246 reported complaints of misconduct in the county jails – just four percent of those were settled in favor of the complainants.

It was even worse for those who complained about police discrimination – there were 34 official complaints, and none were ruled in favor of civilians. It was the same with alleged crimes committed by police – 76 reported and zero ruled in favor of citizens.

And, the scorecard found that Sacramento County is going backwards in policies that make it harder to hold police accountable by disqualifying complaints, restricting/delaying interrogations, giving officers unfair access to information, limiting oversight and discipline and erasing misconduct records.

The Approach to Policing score determines if the department focuses on arrests for low-level crimes and the solving of serious crimes. Sacramento scored a “D.”

SSD had a misdemeanor arrest rate higher than 18 percent of other sheriff agencies, with 19,632 arrests or 10.7 per 1,000 residents – about 14 percent for violent crimes, eight percent for drug possession and 55 percent for all other misdemeanors.

But while the SSD was focused on more petty crimes, there were 213 homicides from 2013-18, and 84 were unsolved – about 40 percent. And if the victim was Black, the unsolved rate was 44 percent and 48 percent for Latinx. The percentage of crime unsolved for white victims fell to 27 percent.

Finally, the scorecard added new “indicators” that “reflect the role of sheriffs in running county jails. In addition to the existing framework used to evaluate city police departments, it examined the sheriffs’ jail incarceration rates, jail deaths per jail population, and transfers of immigrants to ICE.

There were nine deaths in the county jails in 2018, with 56 percent of them suicides – 11 percent were classified as “other” and 33 percent are still being investigated.

That death rate in the jail is higher than most of the other jails operated by Sheriffs in the state.

Despite state laws prohibiting cooperation with ICE, Sacramento County in 2018 turned over 99 people to ICE, according to the scorecard. Only seven percent allegedly committed “violent” crimes, another 18 percent committed low level “drug” crimes and 75 percent committed “other” crimes.


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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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