Ten-seven is the police radio code for an officer out of service. It’s also the username for a new social media account that is sharply critical of San Diego Sheriff’s Department leadership — and the anonymous account’s following is growing rapidly.
In barely two weeks, the Instagram user who goes by Deputy.TenSeven has attracted more than 1,400 followers.
A series of posts has raised criticisms of the leadership of Sheriff Anthony Ray, who was named to his role on an interim basis earlier this year, and his top assistant, Undersheriff Kelly Martinez, who collected the greatest number of votes in the June primary election and could be elected sheriff this fall.
The account profile describes its owner as a “San Diego deputy sheriff tired of not being heard” and asks, “Can you hear me now Undersheriff and Sheriff? The beatings will continue until leadership improves.”
The message is repeated in a recent post accompanied by a photo of a shirtless man tied to a post and being whipped on the back by another man.
The Sheriff’s Department said it is aware of the Instagram account but does not read or monitor its posts. Nor are officials working to figure out who is behind it, a spokeswoman said.
“No public resources have been spent to identify the author or anyone who is participating in the account,” Lt. Amber Baggs said by email.
“The sheriff, undersheriff and other leadership are focused on our priorities of hiring to relieve overburdened staff, providing the best public safety to all communities we serve and investing in the jails to ensure everyone the safest possible environment,” she wrote.
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Many of the posts, which have collectively generated hundreds of likes and comments, speak directly to Ray and Martinez.
Among other issues, they address years of mandated overtime, what the account regards as a lack of consistency in internal misconduct reviews and the notion that the deputies’ union is too close to management.
“Do I lie and get some rest and spend time with my family or do I make sure my partners don’t get killed?” says one post related to rules requiring deputies to work at least 12.5 hours in overtime per month.
Another post takes aim at Deputy Sheriffs’ Association president David Leonhardi. “Anytime you want to do your actual job and speak up for deputies would be great,” it reads.
The union president did not respond to a request for comment.
The account suggests followers are responding in another way: by sharing information about department practices and decision-making.
“Thank you to all who have reached out and offered support,” Deputy.TenSeven posted a few days ago. “The information you have provided from your facilities and patrol stations is great.”
Deputy.TenSeven has not identified himself or herself, but department employees and retirees are convinced the account holder is an active sworn deputy, based on the internal information he or she discusses.
“I do believe this person is a deputy currently working in the department with a knowledge set that shows the consistency of somebody inside,” said David Pocklington, who retired as a sergeant in December after 28 years with the Sheriff’s Department.
Pocklington said members of the public should be concerned about the effectiveness of the department once deputies begin talking openly about their internal grievances.
“You have front-line staff starting to call out command,” he said. “That makes the system less functional and shows signs of things deteriorating. Without a coherent department, you start to lose the ability to provide your most basic priority — which is the safety of citizens and the inmates in the jail.”
Experts in criminal justice agree.
“The impact of some of these (public complaints) can be huge,” said Paul Sutton, a professor emeritus at San Diego State University and noted expert on criminal justice.
“My guess is that the dissatisfaction with leadership conflates issues like mandatory overtime with general unhappiness with the way the job is defined,” he said.
In recent days, both Ray and Martinez have posted department-wide messages to staff aimed at shoring up morale.
Each of those, an email from the sheriff and a video from the undersheriff, seeks to assure employees that leaders hear the concerns and are responding to them.
“In many ways we have been a divided department, working in bureaus and silos,” Ray wrote in a department-wide email last Wednesday. “… We are ONE department and we all move together to accomplish our shared mission of public and jail safety.”
In a video message posted on Vimeo earlier this month, Martinez said the department‘s priority is to end mandatory overtime.
“We are taking real steps to add staff, and we have begun to see our recruitment numbers increase,” she said.
Three months ago, Ray was named by the county Board of Supervisors to serve out the term vacated by former Sheriff Bill Gore, who resigned in February.
Martinez, who stepped in as acting sheriff and was Ray’s supervisor between February and April, now faces former San Diego police officer and prosecutor John Hemmerling on the November ballot.