Every police officer in Santa Clara County is on alert after a judge released a very dangerous person, instead of keeping him in jail awaiting trial for being a felon in possession of a loaded assault rifle.
Campbell police pulled over Ed Varela early Sunday morning and discovered he was a convicted felon with a loaded AR-15 in his truck.
The officers arrested Varela, and to their surprise, a judge released him on supervised own recognizance.
“That is just so outrageous, where someone is released that just had an assault rifle,” said Sgt. Paul Kelly, president of the San Jose Police Officers Association.
Supervised own recognizance means Varela is either wearing an ankle bracelet to track his every move, or he must report once a week to the county pretrial services office until his court date.
The San Jose police union said judges are being badly influenced by weakened incarceration laws that limit or eliminate money bail, a system Silicon Valley Debug is advocating for.
“People are innocent until they’re convicted. And we don’t think people should be stripped of their liberty pretrial, when they haven’t been convicted of a crime,” said Raj Jayadev from Silicon Valley Debug.
In Varela’s case, it was the judge’s discretion to release him, prompting the police union to issue a warning to its officers.
“Watch your back. Watch the community. Take care of each other. One call at a time and make sure you and the people we serve out there are safe,” Kelly said.
There is no arrest warrant for Varela; he is a free man until his next court date. The police union warns that if he is stopped again, there is likely to be a gunfight or a chase.
San Jose police Chief Eddie Garcia said if it’s all true, “then the system is not serious about stopping gun crime.”