How Police Let Two Vulnerable Girls Fall Through the Cracks : On Our Watch An officer is repeatedly disciplined for not turning in his police reports on time. A mom goes to the police asking for help with her missing daughters. In the fifth episode of On Our Watch, we look at what can happen when police don't follow through on reports of victimization, and an accountability process that doesn't want to examine those failures.

Neglect of Duty

Neglect of Duty

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Nicole Xu for NPR
A police officer walks away from a dark car with two figures in the back seat
Nicole Xu for NPR

In the agricultural town of Salinas, Calif., Police Officer William Yetter repeatedly makes mistakes. First there's a stolen bike he doesn't investigate. Then, his bosses discover he's not filing police reports on time.

Police get a call from a mother whose 14-year-old daughter hasn't returned home from school.

Meanwhile, Yetter comes across a car parked in a public area. The windows are fogged with steam. When the officer gets a look inside the vehicle, he finds a 23-year-old man without his shirt on and a girl with disheveled clothing.

It's the missing 14-year-old.

Yetter doesn't write a report, investigate or arrest the 23-year-old man. He is allowed to leave, and another officer brings the girl home.

Two years later, something similar happens to the girl's younger sister. She's in seventh grade when she's exploited by an older man. Police miss opportunities to intervene until she is taken across the border into Mexico.

In this episode, we look at the steps the department took to investigate Yetter's alleged misconduct and the investigative steps that were missed along the way.

Learn more about On Our Watch at KQED.org. This podcast is produced as part of the California Reporting Project, a coalition of news organizations in California.