The Special Operations Division is led by Division Chief Paul Azevedo and Assistant Chief Fiona Khalil.
Special Operations is responsible for investigating and prosecuting a variety of complex matters. Some of them include crimes committed by elected and appointed government officials, including misuse of public funds, political corruption and violation of election laws. The division also investigates allegations of criminal wrongdoing by county and other government employees and officers, including law enforcement officers. Special Operations also investigates and prosecutes attorneys for crimes committed while in their professional capacity. Offenses committed against the justice system, such as perjury and threatening a judicial officer; as well as hate crimes are also handled within this division.
The Crimes against Peace Officers (CAPO) Unit was formally established in late 2013. The unit oversees all cases in the county where officers were victimized as a result of their duties. The CAPO Unit is led by an experienced prosecutor and investigator and there are 15 prosecutors assigned to handle CAPO cases throughout the county. In its first full year, over 2,000 cases were issued that involved resisting and/or assaulting law enforcement officers. Prior to the creation of the unit, the Special Operations Division handled many of the cases where a peace officer was seriously injured.
Investigators who work with law enforcement agencies in Mexico and other countries are assigned to Special Operations. In addition, the division is responsible for background checks on potential employees and volunteers. In 2014 for example, the unit completed over 300 background checks.
Duties of the division also include the independent review of all officer-involved shootings (OIS), which the District Attorney’s Office has done since the mid-1970s. The purpose of the review is to provide an impartial analysis of all shootings and other use of deadly force by peace officers, fatal and non-fatal. The neutral and objective review determines if peace officers in San Diego County acted lawfully when they made a decision to use deadly force. Upon completion of the District Attorney’s review, a letter summarizing the facts and statements of the deputy or officer and other witnesses is written and delivered to the respective law enforcement agency. In 2014, the division reviewed 12 officer-involved shootings. A crime analyst working with the division also completed a 20-year study of officer involved shootings in San Diego County from 1993 through 2012.