Alfred Olango One Year Later 

File Picture, Tom Abbott

Sep 28, 2017 (San Diego) It has been a year since an El Cajon veteran officer Richard Gonsalves shot Alfred Olango outside Los Panchos Mexican eatery on Broadway. The officer involved shooting led to days of protests, demands that the officer be fired, and even calls for the resignation of the police chief. 

Gonsalves was busted from sergeant to patrolman due to a lawsuit from a female police officer before this shooting. He has cost the taxpayer a lot of money. El Cajon Police (ECPD) has a second lawsuit against it due to sexual harassment from another officer on the same female officer. 

The department has a serious problem of accountability. In fact, there seems to be little to none. If this was ECPD that would be one thing. Some police departments have bad internal issues, and poor community relations. ECPD fits this parameter. However, this is not just one department in a small city in California. We have this problem with lack of accountability across the country. The thin blue wall tends to circle the wagons every time, and never be critical of its own. 

The names are well known. Alfred Olango, Sandra Bland, so far this year 730 people have been shot by police. 

Some in San Diego County. 

We are not saying that every shooting death is not justified. We are sure that some are. But when District Attorneys find every shooting justified there is a problem. When rarely an officer is indicted, that is a problem. Convictions are even more rare, even when there is video showing what might be unjustified force. Officers still have to apply de escalation techniques, and despite the availability and training in less than lethal means, officers tend to reach for fire arms. Never mind that they were supplied and trained in the use of less than lethal because Police complained that they had no other means. 

But when almost every shooting is justified, regardless of the situation, it leads to an epic lack of accountability where officers might believe they can get away with it. 

Then there is bias, implicit as it may be, where officers will use lethal force more often with people who are black and brown. They also see a black teen aged as an adult, while a white counterpart is still seen as a minor. 

Let’s not make a mistake here ECPD does have internal culture issues where women are nowhere in command. They also have a very serious case of the thin blue line. But in some ways they are not unlike American policing. We have a serious lack of accountability. If we are to restore trust between police and the communities they police, we need to get some form of accountability. Until that happens, trust will continue to be lacking. 


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