Update on implementation of jail audit recommendations.
On February 3, 2022, the California State Auditor (CSA) released its report on San Diego County jails. The evaluation reviewed in-custody deaths at county jails over the past 15 years, as well as the Sheriff Department’s protocol and prevention procedures.
“It is my goal to implement best practices that will ensure safe jails and the best health care for individuals in our custody. Along with this, it is imperative that we create a fully-staffed and safe environment for our employees.” said Acting Sheriff Kelly Martinez.
She would also like to thank and acknowledge the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for their support and funding which is allowing us to make many much-needed improvements to our jail system.
The following changes have begun which align with the recommendations from the audit.
In December 2021, Acting Sheriff Martinez directed staff to begin an upgrade to the wireless system throughout all jail facilities. This will enable connectivity among health care systems; both between the community and internally with our medical staff in county jails. This fully-funded project is moving forward and will be completed in early 2023.
On February 4, 2022, Acting Sheriff Martinez directed that all in-custody deaths, including natural deaths, be reviewed internally by the Sheriff Department’s Critical Incident Review Board (CIRB). She also directed these reviews be made publicly available, which will occur in the near future.
On February 14, 2022, Acting Sheriff Martinez and Citizen’s Law Enforcement Review Board (CLERB) Executive Director Paul Parker signed a memorandum of understanding allowing a CLERB staff officer to respond to in-custody death scenes and incidents of a deputy-involved shooting where a death occurs.
For more than a year and a half, Acting Sheriff Martinez has been working on equipping jail deputies with body cameras. On February 25, 2022, at her direction, the Sheriff’s Department began the body-worn camera pilot program at the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility in Santee. 72 deputies at Las Colinas will be wearing body cameras while on duty. This program will eventually be rolled out at the rest of our detention facilities with all deputies being issued a body camera. The implementation and wearing of body-worn cameras will increase transparency and help to de-escalate interactions between deputies and those in our custody.
Steps are being taken towards implementing an improved hands-on medical and mental health care screening for every person at intake. Those assessments will ensure proper identification of health needs and include follow-up care in a timely manner.
The Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program for in-custody individuals suffering from substance use disorder has begun and is expected to expand.
The renovations at the George Bailey Detention Facility are fully funded and approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. This facility has been in continuous operation since 1993 and is in serious need of significant modernization. These upgrades and renovations when completed, will provide a safer environment for staff and those in our custody.
We are constantly looking at ways to ensure all security checks are completed consistently, on a timely basis and with a critical eye to the welfare and safety of the men and women in our custody. Accountability measures have been put in place to make certain all security checks are within policy and conducted in a manner that places emphasis on proof of life and the health of individuals.
The Sheriff’s Department has prioritized hiring and retention. We do not currently have enough staff to implement all the changes we want. We are identifying ways to recruit health care workers and deputies to support our staff. Included in those hiring programs are more support, training, clear policies, and proper funding of our detention programs.
The support of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors has been fundamental in increasing staff positions and our ability to implement infrastructure improvements at our jail facilities as well as key partnerships with County Behavioral Health and Health and Human Services.