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South Coast Police Department Public Information Officer Focus Of Investigation

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One of the South Coast’s top government public information officials has been put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation prompted by a controversial magazine article.

The Los Angeles Magazine article questions the City of Santa Barbara’s hiring of Anthony Wagner, and makes allegations about Wagner’s involvement in the process of awarding cannabis licenses in the city.

Wagner was hired as a civilian public information officer for the Police Department more than four year ago, and for a period also helped with some city public information duties.  

In a press release, the city’s interim police chief says most of the allegations in the article have already been investigated by the department or the city attorney’s office.  It says the department will bring in an independent law firm to look at the claims related to the cannabis licensing process.

The Santa Barbara Police Officers Association issued a statement Monday night say they found the allegations disturbing, especially those involving the city's former Police Chief Lori Luhnow as well as Wagner.  The POA says it is grateful that the interim chief ordered an immediate, impartial investigation because it feels the charges cast a negative light on the department.