Protesters want their cellphones back from San Diego police, sheriff’s departments

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Black Lives Matter demonstrators rally in front of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department on June 7, 2020 in Santee, California. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The American Civil Liberties Union is claiming San Diego police officers and sheriff’s deputies at the central jail in San Diego take cell phones from people but then fail to return them.

Some protesters arrested during demonstrations in August in San Diego have claimed their phones were confiscated and never returned when they were arrested and/or processed at the central jail, which is operated by the Sheriff’s Department.

The ACLU says the issue also extends to those who are held temporarily and released without any charges pending.

The ACLU sent a letter last week to the San Diego Police Department and the san Deigo County Sheriff Department. The San Diego County District Attorney and the San Diego City Attorney also received copies of the letter.

It claims the seizure of the phones and refusal to return them appears not to be “the result of isolated decisions by individual officers,” but rather part of a “written or de-facto policy.”

This is an allegation the Sheriff’s Department is denying.

“The Sheriff’s Department did not seize any phones from those arrested at a protest in downtown San Diego on August 28,” sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Ricardo Lopez wrote in a statement. “It is untrue the Sheriff’s Department is holding the phones of released inmates.”

Lopez also sent Border Report a copy of his department’s polices and procedures in connection to property belonging to inmates and people detained.

Lopez stated that his department asked the ACLU for “a list of names of those claiming to not have received their phones but have not received that information.”

A spokeswoman for the county District Attorney’s Office said the Sheriff’s Department was looking into the matter. But San Diego Police has yet to reply.

The ACLU maintains the action “violates protestors’ Fourth Amendment and due process rights, and it should be immediately repealed and repudiated.”

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