San Francisco police chief Earl Sanders has often moonlighted as an expert witness for people suing other Bay Area police departments for misconduct, the San Francisco Chronicle says. The newspaper calls Sanders “one of the nation’s first cops to make a business of breaking the ‘code of silence.’ ”
Sanders said his testimony was part of his fight against police racism and brutality. “It was to change the system. The system was not as good as it should have been,” he said. “Sometimes you have to stand up for what is right. It does not make you very popular.” Along the way, his crusade for more professional policing triggered complaints from other officers, courtroom attacks on his credibility, and a secret 1995 inquiry by his own department into “a possible conflict” between his public and private jobs.
The Chronicle says public records show he sometimes worked more hours at his outside job than allowed under strict department rules, raising questions about whether the department consistently disciplines its officers. Sanders’ work as a police expert during his years as an inspector, lieutenant and assistant chief may figure in his fight to restore his reputation and keep his post as chief.
Sanders’ department has faced criticism for its handling of officer misconduct cases and the internal investigation of an alleged Nov. 20 assault on two citizens by three off-duty officers over steak fajitas. Sanders’ indictment for obstructing that inquiry was dismissed in March, but he has asked a court to declare him factually innocent at a hearing scheduled for tomorrow.
In one case, he testified that “I devote probably 20, sometimes between 20 and 30 hours a week to my, you might say my extra job…” A long-standing department order restricts private work to 20 hours per week. “A request for secondary employment shall be disapproved and an approved request shall be revoked” when “the secondary employment is for more than twenty (20) hours in any week,” it says.