The in-house police force at California’s institutions for the developmentally disabled is searching for a new chief as scrutiny of its work on criminal investigations intensifies.
After two years in the top job, Corey Smith received a demotion to second-in-command for the force, the Office of Protective Services. David Montoya, police commander at the Porterville Developmental Center, is serving as interim chief, according to the state Department of Developmental Services’ website.
The department, which oversees the centers and the police force, has repeatedly hired police chiefs with little to no background in law enforcement.
In its job posting, released Aug. 6, the department said applicants need “extensive management experience directing uniformed peace officers and investigative operations.” However, the posting does not detail how many years of police work or what level of education the next chief must have.
The personnel moves come as state lawmakers last week ordered the California State Auditor to examine the police force’s operations [PDF]. The Office of Protective Services is responsible for protecting nearly 1,700 patients with cerebral palsy, mental retardation and severe autism at five state-run centers in Los Angeles, Sonoma, Orange, Riverside and Tulare counties.
In an ongoing series of stories this year, California Watch has reported that detectives and patrol officers at the institutions routinely fail to conduct basic police work, even when patients die under mysterious circumstances