Sex scandal rocks San Francisco Bay area PDs

Police are held to a higher standard. That’s just part of the job. So when a cop — or in this case a group of cops — does something they typically arrest others for, it creates a national uproar and major PR backlash.

Scandal In Oakland

Prosecutors in Oakland, California say they have to charge seven active and former SF Bay Area officers with various charges related to a sexual abuse scandal involving a teenage girl. The scandal blew wide open when the girl, who says she’s a prostitute, revealed she had sex with about 30 law enforcement officers in and around Oakland.

The alleged victim is currently in jail in Florida on an assault charge, but will be returned to California to testify in the case. That testimony is supposed to include comments accusing at least four officers of engaging in sex with the teen prior to her 18th birthday as well as instances of trading sex for protection from arrest or “tips about prostitution stings.” These allegations, if proven, could result in a range of consequences from jail time to suspensions and “retraining.”

Viable testimony? That’s for the courts to decide. But the fallout has already begun. At least two officers have been terminated, and one committed suicide after being implicated in the investigation.

The Aftermath

Regardless of how this investigation turns out. The implications and allegations are a major PR black eye for Oakland area police agencies who are fighting an ongoing PR battle that has pitted them against factions in the Black Lives Matter movement, which is accusing some local agencies as well as many others across the country of “systematic racism”.

This hot political button has turned what should be a legal case into a touchstone of a socio-political PR narrative. BLM supporters point to this case as yet another example of police corruption victimizing low-level criminals and “poor people”. PDs see this as the result of an investigation to root out and deal with “bad apples” not evidence of rot in the whole bushel.

Both sides can use this case to support their narrative, but the general public will tend to side with the one that presents the case more plausibly. And both sides will have ample opportunity because this case has all the hallmarks of “must-broadcast” news … so it’s not going away any time soon.

David Firester specializes in intelligence analysis and terrorism studies and is founder of TRAC Intelligence.