The City of San Bernardino has reached another sad day regarding the practice of promotions for the Police Department. On Tuesday, September 8, 2015, the City Council at the request of the Police Chief and City Manager promoted Adam Affrunti from Sergeant to Lieutenant earning $12,412.43 a month or $148,949.16 per year. All of that is good, however, when you look at Affrunti’s employment history when it comes to how much his actions have cost the city as a police officer one has to question the decision to promote.
In a 5-2 vote, the council passed the request for promotion with council members Rikke Van Johnson and Virginia Marquez voting no. Maybe they knew Affrunti’s history but failed to discuss it out in the open. If they or other council members did not know, all of them had a responsibility to ask about an employee being promoted to a position in management because they represent the image and philosophy of the city.
To my understanding, Officer Adam Affrunti has been involved in six on duty shootings within a 16-month period with two being fatal. The city, on the same day of this promotion, reached a settlement of $575,000 in the 2007 shooting death of Jerrial DaShawn Allen.
A few years ago, I compiled for the local chapter of the NAACP a report to be submitted to the state and national NAACP calling for an investigation of the San Bernardino Police Department on police abuse towards its citizens. One of the names provided on that report was Jerrial DaShawn Allen, who experienced abuse by the San Bernardino Police Department.
I am sure the city council members did not know of Officer Affrunit’s involvement in the number of citizen shootings nor the cost of these shootings on the city’s general fund. If they did, I want to know what they were thinking by putting him over more qualified officers. It is my opinion that they should have at least discussed his judgment in these cases and the cost of his actions.
It is the responsibility of each council member to know all of an employee’s personnel history before they give approval for greater responsibility within the management ranks of the city.
A July 30, 2014 Press Enterprise article noted that many fatal shootings go unreported in San Bernardino and Riverside County by law enforcement, maybe this is what happened in the case of Affrunti shooting Allen.
In my opinion, the public has a right to know the background of our police officers involved in shootings and settlements when they are considered for promotions. One thing we have learned over the past few years is that once an incident happens in the city national television stations come to town and begin to spread staffing and police involved incidents, track records on staffing, promotions, etc. all over the nation.
All of that free (and sometimes negative) publicity can be avoided by asking those questions prior to granting promotions. Going forward the city must correct its flawed procedure in granting promotions and the council must be more in tune with its public image.