Last Thursday and continuing today, Councilmember Lisa Herbold and SPD Interim Chief Adrian Diaz have been exchanging emails over Diaz’s reversal of an OPA discipline recommendation last week.
Herbold chairs the City Council’s public safety committee, which has oversight of SPD. Her email last week repeats many of the questions raised in press coverage of the decision and by the Community Police Commission, most notably around Diaz’s assertion that the incident commander onsite should not be held responsible for decisions made at a higher level in SPD. Herbold’s questions included:
- Why didn’t the OPA investigation report reflect that decisions were made at a higher level?
- Was information about decisions made at higher levels withheld from OPA during its investigation?
- What decisions were made at a higher level?
- How will others be held accountable?
Diaz’s response to Herbold was brief and continued a pattern of vagueness:
Let me begin by clarifying – there will be accountability for the totality of this incident. In this specific OPA investigation, all that I disagreed with was the finding that the named employee was the responsible party. In the course of the investigation and the resulting discipline process, as well as on-going assessments of what occurred that day, additional information has surfaced which was not included in the OPA investigation. With the pending case now resolved within its required timelines, I anticipate being able to quickly and fully reach a conclusion on who was accountable for the actions on this day.
I am committed to full accountability and transparency for all of our actions, and I also am committed to ensuring that I reach every decision correctly and fairly.
This morning at the weekly Council Briefing Herbold updated her Council colleagues on the back-and-forth with Diaz, and Councilmember Lewis expressed concern over whether SPD is now doing the investigation itself rather than passing information to OPA. Herbold relayed those concerns to Diaz in an email earlier this afternoon:
While I believe this is implied within my earlier question, I’d like to emphasize that it will be important to understand why it is, as you say, “additional information has surfaced which was not included in the OPA investigation.” Other Councilmembers in this morning’s session put a finer point on the need to understand this development.
Further, questions came up this morning in Council Briefings about OPA’s role in this case moving forward. When you wrote below that: “With the pending case now resolved within its required timelines, I anticipate being able to quickly and fully reach a conclusion on who was accountable for the actions on this day,” I assumed that this meant that you have referred this additional information to OPA. Councilmember Lewis in committee today suggested that this wasn’t so clear and that it could be interpreted as if Chief you are carrying out this investigation yourself, outside of the OPA process. I am fairly certain that this is not the case, but I wanted to give you the opportunity to clarify given the Council’s discussion in Council Briefings this morning.
It appears that Chief Diaz is digging himself a deeper and deeper hole with his decision to overturn an OPA recommendation.
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