Hours after officially naming a new police chief Tuesday, the San Jose city manager defended the decision to hire Anthony Mata despite concerns raised during the hiring process by some in the LGBTQ+ community.
The San Jose City Council confirmed the hiring Tuesday of Mata, a deputy chief in the department, after a nationwide search. He was one of four finalists for the position, following former Chief Eddie Garcia's announcement last summer that he was retiring. Garcia has since become Dallas' police chief.
Mata joined the San Jose Police Department as an officer in 1996 and rose through the ranks, serving as a deputy chief for more than four years.
Shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday, City Manager Dave Sykes released the following statement below, in its entirety:
"The City of San Jose takes all alleged violations of City policy, including alleged violations of the City's Discrimination and Harassment Policy, very seriously. Upon receipt of various concerns regarding Chief Mata, including matters pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community, which were raised late in the recruitment process, the City immediately looked into those concerns. Based on the information we were able to gather, the City did not substantiate a violation of City policy nor find any reason to disqualify Chief Mata from further consideration as the City's next Chief of Police."
Mata was greeted by applause Wednesday during his first news conference since the city announced he's taking over as its top cop.
"Part of being an effective and efficient police department requires partnerships with our community," Mata said. "We need you."
As Mata spoke, Assemblymember Alex Lee spoke out against him.
Criticism of Mata centers around an incident where a former SJPD officer, who is transgender, claimed that Mata mistreated her.
"Those are against other police officers, and if other police officers come forward expressing these deep concerns, I cannot imagine that attitude applied to people without a badge, without a gun," Lee said.
Lee also referenced a 2018 lawsuit claiming Mata presided over a police briefing in which Islamophobic comments were made.
"I've worked with our LBGTQ+ community ever since here at the department," Mata said. "I continue to support not only that community, but our officers here in the department."
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo voiced his support for Mata on Wednesday.
"We've got a lot of difficult conversations ahead, and we know that change is always hard," Liccardo said. "Tony Mata is the right chief to lead us through this period of transition."
Mata admitted his department must rebuild trust. The department is currently facing a class action lawsuit regarding events during the George Floyd-related protests last year.