Residents of King City, a California farming town, are grappling with the feeling that their trust has been violated after learning the acting police chief and a handful of officers were charged with crimes, including selling or giving away the impounded cars of poor Hispanic residents, the Associated Press reports. Investigators heard people, many unable to speak English, complain that police were taking their cars and money, and there was nothing they could do about it.
Latinos account for nearly 90 percent of the community of 13,000 people tucked among fields of tomatoes, strawberries and lettuce along the Salinas River, 150 miles southeast of San Francisco. Tuesday’s arrests, which included a former police chief, came after a six-month probe of the police department launched in September when a visiting investigator — there to check out a homicide — heard from numerous sources that the community didn’t trust its police department. By this week, authorities said they had enough evidence to arrest a total of six people linked to the department for a variety of crimes ranging from bribery to making criminal threats.