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Decline In SFPD Traffic Tickets Blamed On Politics

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5 / KCBS) -- Police officers in San Francisco's Ingleside District are alleged to have refused to write traffic citations in the weeks leading up to a November vote on Proposition B, which dealt with pension reform for city employees, in the hopes of not angering voters.

An investigation has been launched after Capt. Louis Cassanego of the Ingleside station suggested at a ComStat meeting this week that some officers were concerned about writing moving violations leading up to the election because they feared voters might then cast ballots in favor of the measure requiring city workers to pay more money into their pensions.

Police department statistics show that officers in the Ingleside District wrote 25% fewer tickets this October comparerd to last October.

"I thought I was being very cautious and deliberate (about my remarks)," Cassanego said. "But apparently it was kind of blown out of proportion or maybe it wasn't received correctly."

KCBS' Barbara Taylor Reports: 

Asst. Police Chief Jeff Godown said he should have been informed immediately, and not through the ComStat meeting after the fact, about the ticket allegations.

Godown said he would investigate why Cassanego didn't come forward earlier about the "buzz" involving the citation decline.

"We have some confusion as to what happened," Godown said. "That's all we're doing. We're not laying blame on anybody."

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, the primary proponent of Prop. B, said he was inclined to believe that officers cut back on issuing tickets because a police captain came forward with the allegation.

"I think this situation should alarm citizens, in that we expect police officers to be objective, not subjective, in doing their jobs and certainly not political," Adachi said. "Police work and politics shouldn't be mixed."

But police officials noted that fewer tickets had been written after the election than in September and October and they cautioned against a rush to judgement over the Ingleside accuations.

"Right before the election the numbers plummeted by a quarter and we have to figure out whay that is," said Lt. Troy Dangerfield, the SFPD's official spokesman. "Just because that statement was said, that's why we have to investigate it. Maybe it had nothing to do with that."

Dangerfield couldn't provide a timeline as to when the investigation would be completed. However, he said if the accusations were true - the officers' actions would violate the SFPD's code of conduct.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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