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Santa Clara County Jail Captain Accused of Misconduct, Retires

by Scott Grammer

In early June 2019, Captain Amy Le, 51, former president of the Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers’ Association, was walked off the sheriff’s office property and placed on paid leave. The reasons for her abrupt departure were not immediately forthcoming; neither sheriff’s officials nor Le would comment on the incident, though a source said Le was served with an administrative letter and her badge was confiscated.

An early report stated that Captain Le had been sanctioned for improperly ordering prisoners to build a gazebo and barbecue grill on jail property, projects she paid for with private funds. Further, it added that Le did not have a building permit. The sheriff’s office sent out a department-wide memo stating the report “was not accurate.”

“[The Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act] prohibits us from disclosing specific information about any personnel matter and we respect those protections afforded to our employees,” the memo said. The Act affords privacy protection for members of law enforcement.

John Hirokawa, a retired Undersheriff and Chief of Correction, noted, “It’s very unusual for a captain to be walked off in that manner for a project that wasn’t for personal gain, on jail property. There may have been policies or procedures broken with regard to that project, but there must be more to the story.”

In her position as the first female president of the Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers’ Association, Le got the union to endorse Sheriff Laurie Smith during the most recent election. After Smith won, Le was promoted to captain in December 2018. Her 2017 earnings from Santa Clara County, including benefits, were almost $450,000. She received more overtime than any other sheriff’s employee that year.

Le was a supervisor at the sally port of the main jail in September 2018 when a mentally ill prisoner, 24-year-old Andy Hogan, was seriously injured while beating his head against the inside of a transport van. Hogan, who suffered major brain damage, was forced to sit in the van at the sally port without assistance until EMS arrived some 20 minutes later. A lawsuit is pending.

According to Le, she was accused of dishonesty in an internal affairs investigation over the gazebo, including being “evasive” about donations collected to fund the building project. She retired on June 12, 2019, and attributed her departure to her union work and “heavy-handed” reactions by the sheriff’s office “over minor matters,” The Mercury News reported.

“I spent 30 years, more than half of my life, working from a law enforcement clerk, a civilian, to move up to correctional officer, sergeant, lieutenant, to captain,” Le stated. “For them to make up an allegation and walk me out like I committed a felony crime, it is very disappointing for the department to go to that extreme.” 

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Sources: mercurynews.com, abc7news.com