Updated 5:30 p.m. Wednesday
Vallejo's police chief said he's "deeply disturbed" by allegations that officers bent points on their star-shaped badges to commemorate and count the people they've shot and killed in the line of duty, and is launching an official inquiry.
Revelations that some officers bent points on their police stars as a "badge of honor" after killing someone were first reported by independent news organization Open Vallejo on Tuesday.
In a retaliation claim with the city, John Whitney, a 19-year department veteran, contends he was fired last year for internally exposing the alleged badge-bending tradition and other misconduct.
“Celebrating the killing of a human being is never acceptable," Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams said in an interview Wednesday. "If there’s any credible evidence found, I will expand the inquiry into an official investigation, and I want our community to know that misconduct will never be tolerated under my administration.”
The new allegations are the latest explosive charges against a department still reeling from the recent, high-profile fatal police shooting of Sean Monterrosa and the subsequent destruction of evidence in the case.
According to Open Vallejo, at least 14 of the 51 current and former Vallejo police officers involved in fatal shootings since 2000 had their badges bent by a colleague. In recent months, Vallejo residents and activists have repeated the phrase "fire the fatal 14," in reference to officers involved in more than one fatal shooting.