El Paso Police Department Reports

El Paso Police Department Reports

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This is the first of a two-part series on sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the El Paso Police Department. Read the second story here.

El Paso Police Department Reports

“I would pass by the male officers and they would whisper to me, ‘You cheating bitch.’ You damn bitch,” the El Paso detective said, recalling her treatment after arresting a male officer for secretly filming sex and sending the tape. to other officers.

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“You’re clearly a prosecutorial tactician,” she heard from friends trying to promote him to other officers. “He’s ruining his life.”

The El Paso Police Department is a hostile workplace for women, several current and former EPPD employees say, with a misogynistic work culture that allows sexual and sexual harassment of officers, women and public employees.

In recent years, the department has been rocked by criminal cases of sexual misconduct: an officer who made a sex tape of a detective without her consent; to another officer who allegedly sexually assaulted a young man while off-duty; to another officer who allegedly attempted to film his colleagues while they were changing in the women’s locker room after a domestic violence incident with his wife.

During a seven-month investigation that included interviews with current and former EPPD employees, law enforcement professionals and employment attorneys, as well as a review of hundreds of pages of documents obtained through more than 40 public records requests , El Paso Matters has uncovered troubling information. a police department that doesn’t want to address gender discrimination in its ranks and where female employees may feel so unwelcome that they leave the department.

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Between 2010 and 2023, at least 10 EPPD officers were arrested or accused of sexual misconduct both on and off the job, according to a review by El Paso Matters.

The EPPD and the city of El Paso declined multiple interview requests from El Paso Matters, citing “an ongoing investigation into this matter.” They did not respond when asked to identify the investigation, nor did they answer any questions for this story. Officials named in various incident reports also did not respond to requests for comment.

The practice of sexism goes beyond overt abuse in groups. It can also influence how El Paso police respond to violence against women, experts say, resulting in an attitude of indifference, distrust or guilt that affects officers’ treatment of women.

“I think it’s really important in policing that people can stand up and be willing to be vigilant,” said Mindy Bergman, a professor of organizational psychology at Texas A&M University who studies workplace diversity and policing. “But if you don’t trust the people you’re with and you’re looking for someone who’s going to sexually assault you, it seems to be very detrimental to public and police safety.”

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“It’s the refusal to have the courage to give birth, to make waves, or to not know our place, that drives many women to leave the industry.” Retired EPPD Sergeant. Rosalynn Carrasco

Sergeant Rosalynn Carrasco, who left the EPPD last summer after 20 years on the force, said “the reason there aren’t more women in the department is not because they want to do fewer push-ups.”

“We know we have to be strong. We know we have to be fit like men; we understand that,” she said, Carrasco. “It’s the rejection for having the courage to give birth, for making a splash, or for not knowing our place, that drives many women to leave the industry.”

Carrasco, like every female officer interviewed for this story, emphasized that she loves police work; It is the culture of the EPPD that has always needed changing, she said.

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“I feel like everyone is a victim, even the men and women who participate in this oppression of other women,” Carrasco said. But until we have this conversation and recognize the problem, things won’t get better.

I truly feel that everyone is a victim, even the men and women who contribute to the oppression of other women.” Retired EPPD Sergeant Rosalynn Carrasco

This culture doesn’t just harm women, said one officer who has worked for the EPPD for more than a decade and asked not to be identified to protect her job.

“The more you listen to this garbage, the more garbage you become,” she said. “The officers who supervise are not punished for insults or violence and sometimes reach positions of power.” in the department they offend her sense of justice. and justice, the same values ​​that led him to work in the police, she said.

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It was his first day at work after months of absence. The detective sat in his car in the parking lot of police headquarters in downtown El Paso, not yet sure if he would return.

In the fall of 2020, a colleague took him aside. “Don’t panic,” he remembered hearing the detective. “Someone told me there’s a sex tape of you.”

The detective, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his family from public scrutiny, met Mendez early in his career with the EPPD. They attended the El Paso Police Academy together and four years later were friends and colleagues at the Pebble Hills Regional Command Center in East El Paso.

In the first months of the epidemic, when Mendez thought he had Covid, he later said that a detective had brought him the medicine. They started dating in the spring of 2020 and slept together for the first time in June, a mutual encounter that never happened again. They soon decided to stop dating and remain friends.

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“I never thought that I couldn’t trust this person or that he had bad intentions,” the 30-year-old detective said at the time. I thought, “We had a close friendship.

According to police and court documents obtained through public information requests, he secretly filmed the encounter. The next day, he began texting two on-duty officers, Edwin Montoya and Jose Barrientos, about five high-ranking female officers they wanted to have sex with at EPPD. Mendez wrote a video for them.

In early November, several Pebble Hills officers spoke about clear videos of Mendez and the detective, according to a statement from Barrientos police. An officer said Montoya showed him the video during lunch during job training in November. 18, Barrientos is nearby.

Former EPPD officer Irvin Mendez was cited by internal affairs investigators for secretly recording sexual intercourse with a detective and then sharing the video with other officers.

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“I thought I was proving a point,” Mendez said in a statement to police investigators about his choice to share the video. “Look what I found.”

When the detective heard about the video, he started crying. A friend asked him what was wrong. He advised her to file a complaint with the Internal Affairs Division, the police department’s administrative unit that investigates allegations of employee misconduct.

Mendez was arrested and released on bond the week of November 25, 2020. The detective said that almost immediately the entire department seemed to know who he was—and that he asked to be subpoenaed—regardless of who he was. Confidential during AI investigation.

He asked the AI ​​for the names of the officials who received and distributed the video because he wanted to file sexual harassment charges against them. The AI ​​said for months that they couldn’t tell him until the case was closed. “I actually spent a lot of time in purgatory. Who in this department saw me naked? He wondered.

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Excerpt from the EPPD Internal Affairs General Report on former Officer Irvin Mendez, who secretly filmed sexual intercourse with a female detective and sent the video to other officers.

His mental health has improved; he soon lost 15 pounds. Although he reported the offensive comments he heard, he was told that he needed further evidence. I would go home and cry and my kids would see me cry. It was painful because I wasn’t there for them as a mother,” she recalled. After five months, she said, administrators finally told Pebble Hills officials to stop them from talking about her case. “My life was going down the drain.” pieces. And the department did nothing to help me.”

Mendez, the officer who filmed it, was allowed to resign instead of being fired. Although he pleaded guilty last August to recording offensive images, a crime committed in federal prison, he will be allowed to ask for clemency. If he is granted clemency, it could allow him to clear his criminal record and return to law enforcement.

Montoya, the officer who showed the video to others, was also allowed to resign instead of being fired. Montoya could not be reached for comment.

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Barrientos is still in the department. In May 2021, a special disciplinary commission voted to sentence him to 30 days of aggravated confinement, the maximum possible sentence for an individual.

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