San Jose's independent police auditor has released a year-end report detailing police misconduct investigations as well as community outreach work over the past year.
The "2010 IPA Year End Report" summarizes the work of independent police auditor LaDoris Cordell -- and her staff of five -- since her appointment in April 2010.
The independent police auditor is charged with conducting reviews of police misconduct investigations and works to strengthen the relationship between the Police Department and the community.
The report mentions the implementation of several changes to affect the public, including the adoption of a 60-day contact program to accelerate the complaint process, and increased outreach to immigrant communities and young people.
Throughout the year, the office hosted 192 outreach events. One concern frequently raised at those events was racial profiling. According to the report, although bias-based policing constituted 5 percent of the total allegations filed in 2009 and 2010, 23 people last year filed allegations of bias-based policing, the majority of whom were Hispanic, black and white.
A major aspect of the report centered on use of force cases and allegations. In 2010, 60 force cases -- cases involving one or more allegations of improper use of force by a San Jose police officer -- were filed, one fewer than in 2009, but considerably fewer than the 117 cases that were filed in 2007 and 2008.
The report states that 65 force cases were audited and that in most cases the independent police auditor agreed with Police Department findings.
The majority of the complainants were filed by Hispanics, whites and blacks. Hispanics filed 36 cases, or 44 percent of total cases, and filed twice as many complaints as whites did and more than three times the cases filed by blacks, with 18 and 10 force cases, respectively.
Maritza Maldonado, a veteran leader of People Acting in Community Together, said she was alarmed by the number of excessive force cases.
"It's very disconcerting that the numbers are so high and so many have gone unsustained," Maldonado said. "This is such a good reminder that we need to step up our work with police and the community and make those relations stronger."
Sgt. Jason Dwyer, a Police Department spokesman, said the report indicated a strong relationship between the department and the office of the independent police auditor.
"The chief has a very good working relationship with (Cordell)," Dwyer said. "They see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. The lines of communication are definitely open."
He said Police Chief Chris Moore has already implemented some of Cordell's recommendations in the report. One of those is for the Police Department's internal affairs unit to improve its timeliness by setting a one-year limit on investigations into police misconduct in order to give the independent police auditor's office sufficient time to review the case.
Dwyer said Moore has responded by temporarily assigning additional staffing in the internal affairs unit to reduce the backlog.
Another recommendation is for the Police Department to adopt a conflict-of-interest policy, restricting the involvement of any officer with a personal connection to an incident. In February, the department released a memo requiring officers to abide by the policy, Dwyer said.
The independent police auditor also recommended that the Police Department re-evaluate its Taser policy. Dwyer said the parameters of that policy have been significantly narrowed.
Objectivity was among the major concerns raised in the report. There have been instances when, during investigative interviews, officers have asked leading questions, potentially exposing the investigation to bias, according to the report. Dwyer said the Police Department now provides training to detectives in the internal affairs unit to change the way they conduct interviews.
The full report can be viewed online at www.sanjoseca.gov/IPA.
Bay City News