The Special Operations Division is led by Division Chief Paul Azevedo and Assistant Chief Fiona Dunleavy. The division investigates cases involving misuse of public funds, political corruption, hate crimes, threats and other crimes impacting the integrity of the justice system, such as perjury, filing falsified documents, and criminal misconduct of government officials, including peace officers and other public employees. In all, the division had 266 open investigations in 2016.
The Special Operations Division also reviews officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths. The District Attorney’s Office has conducted reviews of all officer-involved shootings in the line of duty since the mid-1970s. The purpose of the District Attorney’s review is to provide an independent review of all shootings and other use of deadly force, fatal and non-fatal, to assure the public that peace officers in San Diego County are performing their duties in a legally-justified manner.
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 police chief or San Diego County Sheriff. During 2016, the division completed reviews of 17 officer-involved shootings and three in-custody deaths.
In 2016, Police Chiefs, the Sheriff and the District Attorney implemented a new policy on how to release video to the public, obtained during an officer-involved shooting. The District Attorney released videos in 17 officer-involved shooting cases in 2016. The cases involved shooting incidents dating back to 2014.
The Firearms Compliance Team (FACT) investigates and prosecutes people who attempt to purchase or acquire firearms, but are legally prohibited from doing so. Prohibited individuals include felons, people with restraining orders, those with certain misdemeanor convictions, such as domestic violence, or people who have been previously committed to a mental health institution. A prosecutor and investigator are assigned to FACT cases throughout the county. In 2016 they reviewed 94 cases.
The Background Unit handles all in-house investigations including background checks for potential employees. Last year, the unit performed 303 background checks.
In addition, the division has tribal and international liaisons, which assist with cases in other District Attorney divisions or branches.