Federal authorities investigate dead SFPD officer
By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service
November 16, 2006
Federal authorities confirmed today an investigation into the
actions of a San Francisco police officer who died of an apparent
suicide in a Cambodian jail cell.
The death of Officer Donald Ramirez, 50, has some in and around
the Police Department calling for a renewed investigation into
whether he was traveling for years to Southeast Asia for sexual
tourism -- a name given to the crime of traveling overseas to
solicit children for sex.
On the evening of Oct. 31, police Sgt. Neville Gittens confirmed
that Ramirez, a 25-year veteran of the force, had killed himself
days earlier in a jail cell in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Local authorities
had apparently arrested Ramirez for sexual activity with a 14-year
A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said today
that Ramirez had been under investigation since 2001 when the
San Francisco Police Department reported his suspicious travels.
According to Virginia Kice, immigration officials searched Ramirez
as he came into the country several times but they never found
any evidence of a crime.
"We have received several new leads and we will pursue those
vigorously," Kice said.
Police Chief Heather Fong addressed questions today about a renewed
investigation into Ramirez's past and whether anyone in the department
knew whether or not he traveled to Southeast Asia for sexual tourism.
"As the federal investigation moves forward, and there's
information, the department will take any necessary steps,"
Fong said. "If people had factual information then that is
a problem. We are law enforcement officers who are sworn to protect
the public and to enforce the law, so if someone is aware of criminal
activity and they choose not to do anything about it, that is
Police commissioner Joe Veronese said last week of the investigation
that "there was no greater issue in the department than this."
The police commission, however, has yet to announce if it will
take up the issue.
Other police organizations are staying away from any involvement
in the incident.
"Whatever he does in his off-duty time is his matter,"
Police Officers Association Vice President Kevin Martin said.
"This is not a POA issue."
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