MHPD investigates officers for inappropriate behavior

Crime news

A recent internal investigation found at least two officers acted “inappropriately” in response to a suspected crime last summer, and the department took unspecified punitive action against those officers, according to Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing.

Swing said though prosecutors did not find any illegal or criminal conduct on the part of the officers, he felt the incident was serious enough to continue the internal investigation.

The investigation is related to an incident that happened July 16, 2011 in which Morgan Hill officers arrested two suspects on suspicion of public intoxication, Swing said. The arrests happened on Oak Drive in Morgan Hill.

The suspects were cited that evening and released from the police station the next morning. The Santa Clara County district attorney’s office subsequently did not file charges against the two suspects.

Days later one of the subjects visited the police station on Vineyard Boulevard to file a complaint accusing at least one of the officers involved in the July incident of misconduct, Swing said. The subject alleged the officer improperly accessed information on the subject’s smart phone, and accused the officer of posting photographs on the person’s Facebook account.

Swing declined to identify the content of the photographs that were allegedly posted.

The police department investigated the verbal complaint, which the chief felt was serious enough to begin an inquiry, Swing said.

“We took immediate action to investigate the complaint, and we initiated our investigation without waiting for a formal (written) complaint,” Swing said.

The department contacted the D.A.’s office, which found the officers who were the subject of the investigation did not commit any illegal conduct, Swing said.

However Morgan Hill police continued an internal investigation, which “did find that the officers acted inappropriately, and we responded with corrective action to hold them accountable,” Swing said.

The chief declined to name the officers involved in the case, but confirmed that more than one officer was investigated. He cited state laws prohibiting him from releasing any more details of the case, including what kind of punitive or corrective action the city took toward the officers, and details about the nature of the complaint.

Swing emphasized that even though the details cannot be released and the city has not previously announced the fact that an investigation was underway, the department “quickly recognized that mistakes were made” and knew that the complaint should be looked into.