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SACRAMENTO, CA - A Twin Rivers police officer accused of assault while on duty was arrested Thursday.

Branche Frederick Smith, Jr., 37, turned himself into Sacramento police after the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office charged him with four counts of misdemeanor assault under the color of authority, Sacramento police Officer Michele Gigante said.

According to district attorney spokesperson Shelly Orio, Smith allegedly assaulted four people on two different dates.

On Sept. 17, 2010, Smith is accused of choking two subjects and threatening a third with a Taser after the three verbally challenged Smith while they were handcuffed to benches in the department. On May 30, 2011, Smith allegedly kicked a handcuffed subject in the head while the subject was on the floor of the Sacramento County Jail, Orio said.

Twin Rivers School District Spokesperson Trinette Marquis said Smith was placed on leave after fellow officers raised concerns about his behavior in January 2012. The concerns were reviewed by police Chief Scott LaCosse, then handed to the Sacramento Police Department for investigation.

"I think the employees realized we were serious about holding people accountable for their behavior," LaCosse said.

"In the time I have worked with TRPD staff I have found them to be committed to the safety of the District's students and staff. As this situation demonstrates, they are unwilling to tolerate unprofessional conduct on the part of other officers," LaCosse said. "They came forward when given the opportunity with a new management team."

Smith was booked into Sacramento County Jail, then released after posting bail.

Community reaction was mixed, with some expressing skepticism over whether the department is undergoing real reform.

But others said they see the arrest as a concrete sign things are changing.

"Because they always say they're gonna do something but then they don't, so if we can see it with our own eyes, maybe the community could get more involved," said Darnell Johnson, who lives in Del Paso Heights.

Orio said if convicted, Smith faces up to one year in jail and a fine of $10,000 for each count.

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