02:20 - Source: CNN
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The charges are unrelated to the texting scandal

A tip from within the police department led to the investigation, spokesman says

CNN —  

As San Francisco’s police chief sought to assure the public that his department was turning the page on a racist and homophobic texting scandal, a SFPD officer was charged with a pair of felonies for perjury and filing a false report.

The charges are unrelated to the texting scandal, said Officer Albie Esparza, a spokesman for the police department.

Esparza said a tip from within the police department led to the investigation and arrest of Officer Saqib Aslam, 29, a nine-year-veteran of the department.

Aslam allegedly used his position as police officer to obtain confidential status with the Department of Motor Vehicles for the license plate on his brother’s car, Esparza said.

Members of law enforcement are allowed such status to protect their privacy and to safeguard against being harassed or harmed at their homes.

Aslam has been suspended without pay, according to a statement from the police department.

Esparza said he had no information on any motive behind Aslam’s alleged actions and that it was unclear why his brother may have wanted or sought the special license plate.

The arrest comes one day after the filing of felony charges against a retired SFPD lieutenant accused of obstructing an investigation into an off-duty rape allegation against an officer.

Prosecutors declined to file charges in the rape case, citing insufficient evidence. But the investigation into the alleged sexual assault led to the discovery of a series of racist and homophobic texts sent by that officer and several others.

Earlier Friday, SFPD Chief Greg Suhr held a news conference flanked by police, city and religious leaders, and for the second time in a week addressed the scandal.

“They betrayed the public’s trust, and the trust of the right-minded, hardworking men and women of this police department,” Suhr said of the officers, all but one of whom have since left the department.

Suhr emphasized his belief that the SFPD remained capable of policing its own.

“We think it’s important for the public to know that we did the investigation, that we discovered the texts, that we took immediate actions and that those responsible for such texts are no longer police officers.”

In a statement announcing Aslam’s arrest Friday evening, department brass touched on the theme of public trust, calling it of “utmost importance to the members of the SFPD.”

It said officers “will continue to hold each other accountable and will act swiftly to report any behavior that might bring dishonor to the police department and the city of San Francisco.”