Already under scrutiny for the free tickets some top brass got from the San Francisco 49ers, the San Jose Police Department could be facing a new investigation
Two of the department's top commanders are the focus of an internal investigation. Now it appears the police chief may face the same accusations as his commanders.
With all the attention on this issue, Police Chief Larry Esquivel has never been accused of accepting free tickets from the 49ers, and he has never publicly acknowledged that he did.
The 49ers conduct so-called “Law Enforcement Appreciation Days.” But San Jose’s Gift Ordinance prohibits most city officials from accepting gifts, such as tickets, worth more than $50 and expressly prohibits professional sporting events.
The assistant chief and a deputy chief are being investigated by internal affairs for accepting 49ers tickets. NBC Bay Area has learned Chief Esquivel accepted the same gifts when he attended the “Appreciation Day” game at Candlestick Park on Aug. 8, 2013, with Assistant Chief Eddie Garcia.
Esquivel filled out the proper gift disclosure paperwork and reimbursed the 49ers but not until this year.
"This was something that he realized, ‘Hey, I made a mistake here, and I'm going to go ahead and make it right,’” SJPD Spokesman Albert Morales said. "He realized that was in violation of the city policy."
Esquivel's actions may also violate police department policy, which prohibits seeking or accepting gratuities not accorded private citizens.
"The duty manual says that in our official capacity, our position, we will not 'seek ' tickets,” Morales said. “Now, again, this law enforcement appreciation was an invitation by the 49ers.”
LaDoris Cordell, the San Jose independent police auditor, says the duty manual is clear.
"Officers cannot accept things as gifts or discounts or gratuities unless everybody gets them,” Cordell said.
And it appears an investigation is looming.
"Our office has received a complaint from a member of the public pertaining to Chief Esquivel and 49er tickets,” Cordell said.
At this point, it is not clear if the department’s Internal Affairs unit will deal with the chief's situation, and the gift ordinance is also being reviewed by city officials.