The City of California Board of Aldermen met for a special session on Feb. 17, during which it was presented with findings from the consultant hired last month to perform a review of the California Police Department's operations.
Gary Kempker, operating as GBK Advisors, LLC, presented the board with a report detailing his work since he was first hired Jan. 11. Kempker was brought on in conjunction with special counsel Amanda Grellner, who has not yet issued a report from her end.
The pair was hired following allegations brought forth by three former CPD officers in regard to the department's leadership and evidence handling policies.
Kempker's report does not directly address any of those allegations but does provide a number of recommendations — some which have already been implemented — that relate to the CPD's evidence handling procedures which have been called into question in the first month of the new year.
Some recommendations — such as the CPD should provide additional specialized training for its evidence custodian with emphasis on evidence collection, preservation and storage functions — are listed as "in process" in Kempker's report. Other such recommendations include that department policy should require all property coming into the CPD's possession to be properly documented, processed and stored prior to the end of an officer's shift, with exceptions made only in unusual situations with a supervisor's approval, and department policies regarding evidence and other property seizures should be revised to reflect the CPD's current practices.
Other recommendations from Kempker have already been granted a "completed" designation; this includes more stringent security for access to the CPD's Level I and Level II evidence rooms, with Kempker recommending the addition of further security measures for the garage door in the Level II evidence room. The CPD's refrigerator used for storing blood and other items requiring cold storage has been moved into the evidence room on Kempker's recommendation, after previously being stored outside of a secured room.
Kempker also detailed he'd worked with the department to develop a more detailed log system for recording activities related to evidence submission in the department's Level I and Level II evidence rooms.
Kempker's first recommendation, that access to the department's offices and work spaces should be controlled and not accessible to the public, is not listed as "in process" or "completed" in his report. Another recommendation, that efforts be made to ensure the timely release or destruction of property no longer needed for evidence or other reasons, also carries neither an "in process" nor "completed" designation.
Kempker also recommended expanding and improving the CPD's surveillance systems for its evidence rooms; currently, a camera covers the Level I evidence room, but its storage is limited, and no camera covers the other space for evidence storage.
In addition to his recommendations regarding evidence handling, Kempker offered suggestions for recruiting and retaining personnel, the CPD's Field Training Officer program, training and administration — a total of 31 recommendations across the board.
Kempker said he was asked at the outset of his work to address the department's evidence handling with the most emphasis. He said Wednesday night some of the fixes he recommended were in place by the end of his first day on the job.
"I do want to stress these are recommendations; these are not, by any means, mandates," Kempker said. "You can choose to accept them all, or you can choose to accept none of them. They're offered with my best understanding of the situation, but I don't work here every day. You all have better judgment of which of these recommendations hit the mark on what you're looking to do and which ones don't."
California Mayor Norris Gerhart said he was satisfied with Kempker's recommendations and anticipated most, if not all, of them would be implemented as the board discusses the report's contents further.
"I'm sure that there's a great deal of information in this report that will take a lot of further discussion," Gerhart said. "I'm very pleased with the report. I think it's very thorough."