San Jose

San Jose City Leaders to Take Up 4 Measures of Police Reform

NBC Bay Area

San Jose city leaders on Tuesday will consider at least four measures of police reform as they respond to a widespread call for changes in police department policies and procedures.

Since the death of George Floyd on May 25, thousands of San Jose residents have taken to the streets to demand changes to policing and since then, the City Council has been working on several initiatives to address those concerns.

Here is a breakdown of each initiative that will be considered during the meeting in the order it will be discussed:

Independent Police Auditor report during civil unrest

The Council directed the IPA on June 17 to come back with a report summarizing the complaints received by the IPA during the period of daily protests and police response starting on May 29.

The report found that there were 1,024 concerns filed with the IPA or with the Internal Affairs Unit during that period.

Sixty percent of those complaints were about police conduct, specifically regarding their use of force. Of all concerns, 928 were about one officer's conducts during the May 29 protest, 42 were about use of force or other crowd control measures, and other complaints were regarding use of force on community members, rubber bullets and police Chief Eddie Garcia's comments made on May 31.

Councilman Raul Perales, who is also a reserve officer with SJPD, said that those concerns do not completely capture community complaints, because it does not include online petitions or other actions taken on social media.

"A petition can be signed by anybody from all over the world, so those are not any king of formal part of the process that has implications on the decisions that will be made," Perales said. "If they were there and have a complaint, file a complaint with the IPA. If you weren't there but you are just a concerned citizen, the best way to do so is through your council representative."

The council will be discussing the findings and accept the report during the meeting.

Release of Police Department video clips from civil unrest

During the meeting, the council will talk with Chief Garcia to understand which videos are held from the public because
incidents are under investigation.

On June 5, the council directed the police department to investigate and release all department videos to increase transparency and accountability from SJPD. This topic on Tuesday's agenda is a result of that action.

"It [police footage] obviously helps us as policy makers to suggest better policy because we now have a better ability to see up close what transpired. For the community, they deserve transparency," Perales said.

Currently, there are five compilation videos that are posted online: the collision between a police motorcycle and a pedestrian, the arrest and force incident against a man who was first pulled behind the police line, The incident involving an officer responding to a protester with expletives, footage from Highway 101 and other protest videos.

However, nearly all the videos posted on SJPD's website are not from the police department and instead, is a collection of media footage and public videos found online. This does not follow the Council's directive.

"I had written and signed onto that memo asking for these to be released. My intent was not to see more news footage. Clearly my intent was to see from the officer's perspective and if all those videos are currently being withheld then that does not help," Perales said. "So that will be my request tomorrow [at the council meeting] because this is not what we asked for."

The videos can be found here.

Actions Related to Police Reform

If approved, this action item will direct the city manager and the IPA to create a timeline by Sept. 25, that combines efforts to increase IPA powers, a search for a new police chief, and launching Reimagining Policing.

Each one of these topics will require community outreach and in depth discussions with stakeholders like neighborhood associations, community-based organizations and stakeholders from the police union, among many others. That's why several city council members and Mayor Sam Liccardo think it would be effective to combine those efforts, Perales said.

Reimagining Police is an effort spearheaded by Perales, to work with community partners, like San Jose State University, and conduct thorough analyses to create solutions and improve the way policing is done in San Jose. The project was approved a $100,000 budget to hire staff and other funding.

"The intent that I had was to actually take that deep dive… "I'm saying let's engage the community, let's engage in this process, lets gather community stakeholders and stakeholders from the police union, community members who are organizing in favor of defunding the police, let's get a process bringing ideas to surface," Perales said. "Let's try to take a deeper dive and then come out with a deeper set of recommendations.

Police Department Duty Manuals

Chief Garcia has outlined six different amendments to the departments Duty Manual: establish a minimum age at which minors cannot be placed in handcuffs, establish a policy that prohibits the hiring of recruits who have body art that is associated with hate groups and/or considered racist, prohibit SJPD officers from covering badges, change the justification of "no knock" entries where a warrant has been acquired, restructure hiring protocols to promote diversity and ban kinetic impact projectiles (KIP), like rubber bullets, as a means of crowd control.

These amendments were suggested by the City Council in early June and are now coming back for final approval from the council.

"These are just scratches at the surface. I do not want anyone to think that this is sort of the panacea of reforms," Perales said.

The amendments listed can be changed during the meeting. Currently, there are three different memos that may do so.

One is to strengthen the amendment that bans the use of KIP in crowds. The other is to ban carotid restraints, which is already a policy implemented by Garcia on June 9, according to Perales.

Councilwoman Sylvia Arenas also released a memo on Monday for additional duty manual changes that improve SJPD interactions with survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, child abuse, human trafficking and other vulnerable populations.

"This [meeting] is our opportunity now to chime in on all these proposed amendments, if we think we agree on this or if we think we should go further. That is what our discussion will be."

The public can watch the meeting at 11 a.m. on the city's YouTube page or attend the meeting via Zoom.

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