San Jose is moving ahead with police reform, the new training center

SAN JOSE – The same week that San Jose appointed its next chief of police, the city council is pushing potentially groundbreaking police reform and a $ 45 million project to build the San Jose Police Department, a new place for officer training .

Council members unanimously voted this week in a row to approve the search for an advisor to assess how the city can remove internal police misconduct investigations from the SJPD and to purchase a former Western Digital property in South San Jose to support the to house the next training center of the department.

The police reform point stems from a pledge by Mayor Sam Liccardo to take responsibility for an internal affair investigation in the wake of police officers violence downtown against protesters protesting the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last summer had delegated the city’s independent police inspector, a third-party investigator, or both.

The council’s vote on Tuesday means the city will have until April 16 to accept offers from advisors and make a selection until May 1. A report is due out in July outlining the logistics and feasibility of delegating the investigations. Almost every scenario would require a significant increase in staff and resources for Police Auditor Shivaun Nurre’s office.

Should such a shift be deemed viable, the city would have to negotiate its final form with the San Jose Police Officers’ Association. With this in mind, the Council also approved a parallel process that includes the search and evaluation of alternatives to transform the current system, which must be completed by April 13th.

This potential major shift in police accountability stems from voters’ approval last fall of Measure G, which, in addition to expanding Nurre’s access to intra-departmental behavioral complaints and records of the use of force, also included broad language in the city was authorized to “assign other tasks to the city IPA. “

Peter Ortiz, a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Education who represents much of East San Jose, said in a public statement that the proposed shift in the investigation into police misconduct is critical to building the trust of underserved communities who have borne the brunt of police work and excessive violence.

“No government agency should be hired to investigate itself,” Ortiz said. “It is imperative that we guarantee the community that there is an independent voice in investigations into misconduct. Such investigations are based on transparency, seek accountability and promote public trust.”

Gabriela Chavez-Lopez, president of the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley, said, “This work plan is in line with the community’s drive for police reform, such as meaningful systemic changes that hold officials accountable for their actions.”

The police union continues to stand firm against changes in the structure of internal affairs, relying on how the IPA office agrees with more than 90% of the IA’s conclusions and that behavioral complaints make up a tiny percentage of police-community contacts in any given year.

“We’re still not sure what exactly the city is trying to fix,” SJPOA President Paul Kelly said in a statement Thursday. “They should produce where they believe the IPA has missed out on overseeing these investigations and how this proposal would address those shortcomings.”

During the meeting, Liccardo admitted that the changes he proposed would be a long one.

“This transition won’t happen overnight,” he said. “Thank you for your work in getting us started.”

Meanwhile, the city council swiftly approved the purchase of 4.77 acres Enzo Drive property and 97,000 square foot warehouse, formerly owned by hard drive maker Western Digital, valued at $ 18.5 million. He planned to make it the nearest police training facility.

For the past six years, police training has been conducted at the SJPD substation on Great Oaks Parkway adjacent to the department’s police academy, none of which had the intended purpose of the substation. It was supposed to be a full-service secondary police station, but when it was built in 2010 the country was in recession and the department’s workforce development collapsed. When it finally opened in 2014, it was a $ 82 million auxiliary building.

The state commission on standards and training for peace officers granted SJPD permission to use the substation as an improvised training facility, provided that it was a temporary solution. Last year the city had bigger plans with a prospective agreement with Silicon Valley real estate billionaire John Arrillaga to build a police training center on some of its lots on Hellyer Avenue, but it was twice as expensive as the city had planned.

However, this plan was discarded amid national public attention aimed at redirecting police spending to more community and clinic-based programs and groups to reduce the opportunities for police violence.

Kelly, the union president, said the current training agreement is preventing officers from receiving optimal training in critical responses and driving situations that they commonly see in the field.

“The ability to immerse department members in frequent and ongoing training improves their ability to safely manage a range of scenarios they may encounter and is well worth the investment,” he said.

For Raj Jayadev, co-founder of South Bay’s Silicon Valley De-Bug civil rights group, such a large investment in a police facility contradicts the city’s pledges to raise the most disenfranchised by law enforcement agencies.

“When people need help, need housing, it is a complete misuse of money,” he said on Thursday. “You put it on the moment we’re in, and it’s even more damaging. This shows that these gestures of advocating for racial justice were only symbolic and that when the real decision-making comes they still fill the coffers of the police department. “

Comments are closed.