Date: June 27, 2017
STATEMENT ON OC GRAND JURY REPORT INVOLVING OCDA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
SANTA ANA, Calif. – Today, the Orange County Grand Jury (OCGJ) released a report entitled “Another Hostile Work Environment?” in which the members of the OCGJ explored personnel concerns within the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) Bureau of Investigation.
“I thank the members of the Grand Jury for their service to our community, for their report that provides a great recitation on the laws and policies regarding sexual harassment, and for recognizing that even a perception is important to address,” said District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “The OCDA takes this issue seriously and has been conducting its own internal personnel investigation for the last seven months, taking appropriate actions as necessary. I have requested that the OCGJ turn over any specific information on actionable items so we can bolster the current investigation; I eagerly await their response,” said Rackauckas.
Today, the OCDA sent an email to all OCDA staff reminding employees of the County’s established Equal Employment Opportunity and Anti-Harassment Policy and Procedure, encouraging anyone with a concern to utilize the county’s process.
The Bureau of Investigation
The Bureau is comprised of 32 divisions and staffed with 250-plus employees who serve in varying roles of responsibility. The majority of the Bureau’s investigators are sworn peace officers (182) who have been recruited from other law enforcement agencies and benefit from the rights afforded them under the Police Officers Bill of Rights; they are supported by 76 non-sworn members.
The OCDA Bureau of Investigation has an incredible track record of establishing cutting-edge units and partnerships, including:
- Gang Prevention
o Since its inception in 2007, the Gang Reduction Intervention and Partnership (GRIP) has prevented children from joining gangs. As gang prevention incentives, GRIP has awarded over 4,700 Thanksgiving turkey dinners, taken over 10,500 students Angels games, and sent 50 students to nature and athletic camps.
o Law enforcement agencies in the partnership have also conducted numerous curfew sweeps resulting in over 220 minors being contacted and counseled.
o The OCDA has attained 13 gang injunctions, enjoining 500 gang members.
- Local DNA Database (as of 2015)
o OCDA started the first DNA Unit in the country and collected 60,000 voluntary DNA samples for the database from defendants in 2007.
o The local database has produced 644 crime scene DNA profiles matched to individual and/or other crime scene profiles in 15 types of cases, including murder and sexual assaults.
o In 2013, OCDA, in response to Proposition 35, created the Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit (HEAT), dedicated to vigorously prosecuting perpetrators, including pimps, panderers, and labor traffickers, who sexually and commercially exploit and traffic women and children.
o The HEAT Unit has sent 70 percent of offenders to state prison, securing over 200 felony convictions including six life in prison sentences.
o Since 2004, the OCDA Homicide Unit has obtained over 340 total convictions, which is over a 90 percent conviction rate for each year.
o Vehicular homicide has almost 90 convictions including 11 murder convictions.
o Between TracKRS and the Orange County Homicide Task Force (OCHTF) over 20 homicide cold cases have been solved, with the oldest case solved dating back to 1969.
o The OCHTF has reviewed over 200 cold cases and there are over 60 current cold cases being reviewed.
- Innocence Review Panel
o The OCDA Camille Hill Innocence Review Panel (CHIRP) was created by OCDA Tony Rackauckas 17 years ago in an effort to offer recourse to the innocent that have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated.
o 400 criminal cases have been examined.
- Fraud Investigations
o Major and medical / workers’ compensation insurance fraud investigations have led to many multiple-defendant convictions involving hundreds of millions of dollars.
For this report, the members of the OCGJ interviewed just under 100 OCDA employees, reviewed the hiring, promotion, and evaluation policies of the Bureau of Investigations and compared OCDA Bureau processes with those of neighboring counties. In addition, the OCGJ reviewed the county’s human resources policies and training materials as they relate to the OCDA and the Bureau, as well as previous grand jury reports and audits of the OCDA. They reviewed research articles, examined case law, and consulted the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in an effort to garner background and understanding.
Although the OCGJ stated they heard a variety of complaints over the course of their review, they are not charged with investigating specific cases of inappropriate employee behavior and are therefore unable to confirm any of the allegations reported.
The major findings as they relate to the OCDA included allegations of consensual relationships between limited members within the Bureau, which may have contributed to negative perceptions in regards to promotions based on factors other than merit.
Additional findings stated that employees did not report concerns out of fear they would not be afforded confidentiality, taken seriously, or out of fear of retaliation and that some members of OCDA management have not consistently enforced the Orange County zero-tolerance policy in regards to sexual harassment.
In regards to the OCDA, the OCGJ recommended the implementation of comprehensive management training for Bureau employees, annual sexual harassment training for all employees, and clarifying the Bureau’s role within the OCDA.
“The OCDA intends to respond in writing as required within 60 days and will make our response available to the public,” concluded Rackauckas.