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Santa Maria’s Police Department Under the Microscope

The future of Santa Maria’s Police Department is in question. Members from the L.A.County Office of Independent Review is assessing the troubled agency, as part of an ongoing audit.Santa Maria City manager, Rick Haydon, says he decided to hire the outside agency back in January, after two sergeants shot and killed Officer Albert Covarrubias, Jr., during an attempt to arrest him for sexual misconduct.Covarrubias allegedly pulled a gun, when officers confronted him.”After the Covarubias shooting, I re-assessed things, and felt we needed somebody to take a look at operations, practices, and tactics we’re enforcing right now,” explains Haydon. That was before members of the Santa Maria Police Association took a vote of no confidence in Chief Dan Macagni in February, and before a second officer involved shooting this year.Haydon says they have spent the past several months doing homework, looking at files, and training materials used by Santa Maria Police. “Now they’re at the point they want to start talking to individuals, talk to the chief, talk to the command staff, and the police officers association.”We’re told, the purpose of the audit is simply to compare Santa Maria’s Police Department to other agencies of similar size, and decide whether improvements could be made. Whether any jobs are in jeopardy, Haydon says, “It’s still premature at this point to indicate that there’s going to be any action taken.”After the Police Officer’s Association took a vote of no confidence in Chief Macagni, the city decided not to take any action against him.Meanwhile, both officer involved shootings are currently under internal and criminal investigation.

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