Only On 7: SJPD to investigate gifts officers took from 49ers

Vic Lee Image
ByVic Lee KGO logo
Friday, October 24, 2014
ABC7 News has learned that San Jose police will launch an investigation into possible misconduct by its officers who may have violated the department's gift policies.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- ABC7 News has learned that the San Jose Police Department (SJPD) will launch an investigation into possible misconduct by its officers who may have violated the department's gift policies. This follows an ABC7 News exclusive report from Thursday that members of the SJPD command staff accepted free tickets for San Francisco 49ers games.

The SJPD is being forced to conduct an investigation because a complaint has been filed with the office that monitors the police department.

The complaint was received by the office of Judge LaDoris Cordell, San Jose's independent police auditor, which then triggers an investigation by police. "Once we take the complaint in, it goes immediately to the internal affairs unit of the San Jose Police Department and they investigate," said Judge Cordell.

The complaint is confidential. However, it is known that it was filed Friday, the day after the ABC7 News report aired on Thursday.

That's when it was reported that assistant chief Eddie Garcia got free tickets to the Niners first preseason game last year at Candlestick Park. A video shows him on the sidelines with a field pass which says "invited guest." He also got tickets to a game two months ago at Levi's Stadium.

Deputy Chief Jeff Marozik also attended the game as a guest of the Niners.

The department told ABC7 News they were invited because it was 49ers Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. In addition, they say both officers that both complied with state regulations by filling out Form 700, which is a declaration that they accepted the gifts.

But Garcia and Marozik violated San Jose city's gift ordinance, which says upper echelon managers are only allowed to accept gifts worth less than $50. The team's front office told also told ABC7 News that each ticket was worth $187. The ordinance specifically prohibits tickets to professional sporting events.

ABC7 News was eventually told that the men reimbursed the team for the tickets. When the police department was asked when the two men returned the money, the department replied it was last week. That was a week after ABC7 News inquired about the tickets.

"Once we were made aware of the actual value of the ticket, and that it did exceed that amount, we reimbursed it. But again, we're very glad to be part of this. These partnerships help us foster stronger partnerships with the community," explained Heather Randol with the SJPD.

But perhaps more importantly, the two officers may have violated the department's own duty manual. Judge Cordell would not comment about the specifics of this story, but she pointed out that under the duty manual, officers cannot accept any free tickets. "These are deemed to be gifts. So discounts, a gratuity, favors, any of these - if they're not offered to everybody, you can't take them," she explained.

Judge Cordell also said that there's nothing in the duty manual about repaying people for gifts. "If you break the rule, you can't then undo it. If you get caught, you then can't undo it by somehow making restitution or reimbursement."

Cordell says after the police investigation is over, her office will review it to see if it was thorough, unbiased and complete. "Our office is the check on the system. So while Internal Affairs investigates, we are the ones who look at what they've done," she explained.

The investigation will go forward now that a complaint has been filed. But the scope of the investigation, such as if it will be broad to see how rampant the gift violations are, or if it will be focused on specific officers, is unknown.