Reporting Crime

A story sensationalized last weekend by the Merc’s Sean Webby stops just short of blaming the recent violent-crime spike on SJPD Chief Chris Moore’s business trips. “As San Jose’s homicide rate soared,” Webby writes, “police Chief Chris Moore was out of town on business 12 times.” He goes on to report that “some argue” an absent chief can destabilize a police force battling crime and sagging morale. Maybe so, but who exactly is arguing this (or even saying it under their breath) is unclear. The only person quoted criticizing the chief is Patricia Diaz, executive director of immigrant advocacy group SIREN, over an unrelated issue—the hiring of immigration agents. And Diaz’s criticism never comes close to Webby’s own front-page editorializing. Moore was frequently out of town in May, “one of the city’s bloodiest months,” Webby connects, even though only one of the seven murders in May occurred when Moore was absent. Conceding that the supersized chief always flies coach, Webby eventually explains that the main reason for Moore’s travels is that he’s heading a national effort to improve broadband emergency communications. Jim Unland, an SJPD sergeant and vice president of the police union, admits morale is down, but not because of Moore’s trips. Police are annoyed, Unland says, because 66 officers were just laid off.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

47 Comments

  1. So Webby finds something as sensational as possible to write in order to justify his job.  Moore’s traveling has far more benefits to the PD and the city than his absence.  Everyone knows the chief is a politician and the assistant chief is responsible for the day to day operation of the department anyway.  A massive red herring to keep somebodies paycheck flowing.

  2. Officers are not annoyed at the Chief for being gone, but at all the new political policies he has bestowed at a time when morale is at rock bottom. Wake up Chief! You’re a manager of department memos and not a leader of your officers! Grow some backbone. Stop pampering every special interest group that cries “victim”! Maybe we would have been better off with Batts…at least he tells the mayor and council how it is over there.

      • Yeah. But although Davis fasted, he did not let Figone push him around about the illusionary drunk in public “problem;” while Moore would have said “Yes Boss” to Figone in a heart beat without even standing up for his officers.

        • Davis didn’t stand up to Figone or anybody else.  The only thing I can give him credit for is not caving on the Tazer issue.  He basically didn’t take the bait on the drunk issue and the city had selfish reasons for not making it an issue; civil liability.

        • Davis did more damage to the agency than any previous Chief. Davis couldn’t connect with the rank and file, he failed to understand patrol functions and had absolutely no clue about investigations and their functions. The only thing Davis ever did in his entire career was to study for promotions, spend the bare minimum in time at that rank and tested again. Everything Davis knew about police work he learned from a book.

  3. If you ask me, police are annoyed with having to hear about Sean Webby writing sensationalized articles. 9 out of 10 of his articles are crap. This article is no different.  He is trying to make a story out of nothing.  He heard a rumor and he is trying to be the first one to press with it.  Yet, what this really establishes is the mere fact that this is a dying paper.  He is a modern day muckracker or should I say a “wanna be” muckracker.  All in an effort to sell a paper.  Who runs this bird cage lining business anyways?  Don’t answer that, I don’t care.

  4. Sean Webby is a horrible, very ambitious, no ethics Mercury ” story writer ”  who sensationalizes his stories, make up false facts, hand picks information to support his unjustified attacks on his targets, ignores facts that conflict with his story line, prints information without checking facts, does not giving people he falsely accuses an opportunity to set record straight or explain how Webby has misinterpreted what went on or he purposely distorted facts

    To call Webby a journalist is an insult all those who call professional journalists and their profession   He does not report what went on but knowingly falsely accuses people and organizations

    A horrible horrible person who Mercury should have fired if Mercury has any ethics, integrity or was professional journalism publication

    • The awkward phrasing, grammatical errors, and general tone reek of cop-writing. Ah the laughs that prosecutors and defense lawyers share over police reports. Is borderline illiteracy a prerequisite for becoming a cop?. Mongo like shiny gun go boom! Yet they have the gall to critique a fine journalist’s work. Sean Webby is a hero for the people of San Jose. Funny, I hadn’t thought of the term “pig” referring to cops in years. Until reading some of this pig slop. Good cops should rally behind journalists who weed out bad cops or bad cop practices. Don’t they realize that the good ones suffer because of the damage done by bad cops and idiotic policies?  Blaming the journalist for writing the article is like a murderer blaming a cop for the murder because the cop caught him. Nevermind,  I forgot SJPD doesn’t catch murderers. They let them get away and then declare that they’re already dead and buried. Nice job, guys. But then again, I’m talking about someone who did what many of you dreamed of doing for years.

  5. Thank you Metro for a wonderful article and for setting the record straight. Chief Moore is doing the right thing. Broadband emergency communications is vital to the safety of San Jose.

    Give the guy a break already! The Chief cares very much about his Officers, and our community.

    Sean Webby and his buddies are just looking for a way to trash our new Chief, just like they did to our former one. I’d like to see them do half of what Chief Moore does to ensure the safety of our community in times of disaster.

  6. May I suggest Sean Webby write a story how none of our council members have real time information about SJPD response times.  After making a massive cut to the already short staffed department, our council members have absolutely no clue how the shortage of officers is affecting SJPD’s ability to respond to crimes in progress.  I guess they just take the word of Chief Moore and Ms. Figone to don’t worry, be happy.  Until our council members start collecting this data unfiltered by the city manager and chief’s office, they will not know the impact of their policies until it is too late.

  7. I found the timing of the article on Chief Moore to be particularly unfortunate and borderline discourteous, because it lacked substance and relevance at the time when our country lost 30 Navy seals to an act of war. The Mercury News, chose to run the story of this tragedy buried inside on page 8 of the Sunday paper and put the article of Chief Moore’s travels on the front page.  It is time to stop stirring up trouble when there are so many more serious issues that need the attention of the public.  Full disclosure – my son has served two tours in Iraq. 
    Semper Fi

    • Didn’t you know/realize that the Mercury News has a hard-on for the SJPD…instead of reporting real news…Webby and the rest of his terd reporters go out of their way to shock the community into the perceived issues at SJPD….Where is the current front page story of the SJPD causing the stock markets roller coaster ride???  A real newspaper would be reporting about the games the politicians are playing with the taxpayers…oops that won’t happen, they (politicians)  probably sit on the useless Mercury newspaper board/group.

    • Helen,
      I couldn’t agree with you more! Please thank your son for his service to our country.

      My Father was a lifer in the Army. It is a tough job that goes without much appreciation.

  8. There are murders all over San Jose,
    Drug Dealing and Prostitution in front of City Hall.
    Thefts and bank holdups just three blocks from his station,
    Gang leaders control more of the districts than council members,
    Calling Chief Moore, you fathead, where are you?

  9. Webby is guilty of nothing more than practicing newspaper journalism as it really exists, pretty much as it has existed for over a century, during which time it played a pivotal role in involving this country in a series of wars, changing the demographics of the nation, and destroying our once respectable culture. It is a profession with its feet firmly planted in deceit, one designed to antagonize, distort, and hype in service of the aims of the rich, influence-peddling, often treasonous bastards who control this nation’s media. With the exception of those stories with little market value, nothing is handled objectively.

    Webby is doing his paper’s dirty work by attacking the San Jose police department—arguably the most honest and efficient government agency that has ever served this city, for no other reason than the abject failure here of the great liberal experiment. Amidst so much failure, with zero change in the color of crime, educational achievement, or economic success—despite forty years of hearty effort, heavy investment, and outright skullduggery, there exists no other politically-approved target. Who else might Webby attack? He can’t blame Hispanics for producing this city’s dropouts and gangbangers. He can’t point out the Black community’s remarkably consistent domination of one area of human behavior: violent crime. He can’t go after those who, like elected officials, corporate leaders, and judges, have power that can hurt his employer, and he obviously lacks the analytical power necessary to unravel the big stories, like the corruption twisted around this city’s redevelopment history, so who else but the cops?

    The worms to whom Webby reports are the local incarnation of liberal true believers—dogged adherents of failed values and beliefs who, tellingly, tend to prefer life in Los Gatos, Saratoga, and Palo Alto, where fake is the new reality. Oh, there committed multiculturalists to be sure, but always safely out of reach of the dregs they champion.

    If and when the people of this nation realize the harm that has been, and continues to be, done to them under the banner of “journalism,” it will be the creep reporters, not honest bloggers, writing anonymously. The Murdoch scandal is truly just the tip of the iceberg.

  10. Moore is Figone’s puppet. From the moment he disposed of the 30 day impound to buy the Latino vote, as well as Liccardo’s support, rank and file knew he was weak. His travels and comfort in DC are all part of his sidework assuring his next position. Anyway you cut it SJPD’s lack of leadership continues,…in fact I can’t remember the last time Moore was seen in briefings,…he continues Davis’ tradition. Makes me miss Lansdowne…

    • Don’t know about other briefings but he comes to 3rd watch a couple if times a month . He even comes to sgt-staff mtgs on the watch.

      • That’s swell. How come we’ve never seen him nor any other chief officers at dayshift briefings? Sergeant staff is nice but the officers are the ones who need to see the chiefs the most. We never do.
        Leadership is always from the front. Otherwise is just called management.
        We would have been better off with Batts. Atleast he stood up and told his city to support him.  Our city dumps on us. Our problems will continue to grow until there is a change in the City Managers position. To quote a famous senator, ” Lions cannot survive on squirrels. Even if they eat all day their is not enough there to sustain them. Too many executives waste their time hunting squirrels.”
        Figone is a squirrel hunter of the worst kind.

  11. I would have agreed with the generally dismissive tone of the comments here, but yesterday in connection with asking an officer for permission to proceed across an intersection (where there was no excitement or drama), he put his head almost all the way inside my car with his Hollywood sunglasses about 3” from my face and said, “Punk, I am the law.”  In my 70 years, I have been called a lot worse than “punk,” but I thought it peculiar.

    A lot of police featherbedding was going on at the intersection, too.  There were at least four gun-toting men and two crossing guards.  There wasn’t even the need for one policeman because all of us in that community understand the customs and laws affecting intersections, and automatically take turns when the traffic light is out or there is an accident or whatever.  Six bodies managing one intersection is featherbedding beyond belief.  There’s no shortage of police if four gun-carrying police can laze around one intersection and make trouble that didn’t exist in the real world.

    The incident has given me a different perspective on our finest.

    • “gun toting” be still my beating heart.  A police officer carrying a gun in this day and age?  Whatever have we come to when police officers have to carry an that evil mind of its own death deliverer.  Everybody knows that the police should not carry weapons and those that do are just badge heavy.  Never mind the dozens of police deaths across the country, that is just an aberration, like our homicide rate….

      • I have lived in 5 places in the US and 2 in Europe, ranging from small rich towns to huge cities with insanely high crime rates, including murder rates that are consistently shocking. Across the board I have found that a lot of cops are power-weilding bullies who get off hassling anybody they can. And a lot of cops are good guys with noble intentions who face dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations regularly. And without a moment’s hesitation I believe that San Jose has the worst police force (and local government) that I have ever encountered. I have lived in big dangerous cities where police corruption is rampant. I have been pulled over and asked for bribes, and I have seen countless examples of cops padding their pay illegally. But this was in a city where every cop had to truly wonder if they would live through the day, and all for a paltry $32K a year. Here, cops have it easy and are so overpaid and inept that they bring to mind a squad of Barney Fifes who hit the lottery. There are certainly corrupt cops here too, but instead of $100 bills, they bend and break the law for their political puppet-masters (like ex-mayors). And worse, their stint at community college teaches them to be judge and jury, selective in their investigations and testimony to the point of perjury (or testilying as they call it) to ensure that the “dirtbags” they arrest are convicted. Don’t even get me started on prosecutors. Let’s cut their pay. No other city and county throws away so much money on dishonest and mediocre law enforcement and prosecutors.

        • So, let me see if I can provide a synopsis of that little rant.  “I got arrested by the San Jose Police Department.  I was in the wrong but based upon my poor upbringing and foolish choices over the years, I have come to believe that nothing I do is actually my fault.  Rather than take responsibility for my actions, I choose to place the blame on those that enforce the law.  I might also add that I am incredibly jealous of their career choice and have feelings of impotency as I would not pass a background check, let alone the entire testing process for police officers.”  Here is a piece of advice, stay out of the bar zone and learn to handle your liquor.

  12. Lets face the facts, the Murky News hates the SJPD and will attack from any angle.  I wrote the news asking why this is front page news when the nations financial crisis only made page 6 and the loss of 30 American Heroes only made page 8.

    Of course they would not print that, they have their own agenda.  That is why I would never pay 75 cents for the crap they call news.

  13. Sorry rank and file, times change and you must change with them.  Even Lansdowne has adapted to current reality.  Although, Bill had the advantage of being a skilled politician from the outset.  Bill Lansdowne could get most anyone to eat a shit sandwich and relish every single bite with his personality and persuasiveness. 

    Davis and Moore don’t have those skills and never will.  That doesn’t mean both of them don’t express themselves behind the scenes but given Figone’s complete control over the city, no chief in San Jose will ever break protocol as long as Figone and Reed are around.  Until San Jose hits rock bottom, the hold that Reed has on the gullible public is broken and the iron grip Figone has on the testicles of the city administration is loosened, San Jose is just dog paddling in one of the turd farm tanks out in Alviso.

  14. Did any of you see Figone in that photo?  Nope, that’s because she is behind her Puppet Chief Moore pulling his strings telling him what to say…  The evil witch from the east, in this case Los Gatos…

  15. LAPD, as a result of the Rampart scandals and Rodney King, finally broke out of their shells and began looking at other agencies to see why some larger departments managed to avoid the large-scale corruption problems, routine allegations of excessive force, and other headaches that they were suffering.  Guess which agency was one of a few that they sought out?  That would be the SJPD.

    The SJPD has had very few major scandals over the years by comparison to other agencies and cities of similar or larger size.  Just because the Mercury News tried to fabricate controversy with faulty logic, incorrect statistics, and excessive misinformation does not mean they were actually true.  While some whiners in the community, who will never be satisfied with any version of a police department, make spurious claims such is not the case within the law enforcement community.

    Across the nation San Jose has traditionally been viewed as a model agency in terms of training, quality of hirees, lack of corruption, advanced innovation, and progressive policies.  The local media would have everyone believe this not to be the case but unfortunately for their financial bottom line, serious scandals at the SJPD just don’t exist. 

    Now, this is going to change with the lack of staffing, mass exodus of some of the best officers as experienced officers bail out on a sinking ship and new eager dedicated officers get pink slips.  With the reduction in pay, benefits, and incentive to come to the SJPD, coupled with an non-supportive citizenry, it will slowly decline into an organization that was described in the article as the former LAPD, bet on it.

  16. Homework,

    My first impulse was to congratulate you on an outstanding post, but before I could finish reading it I came to realize how much I hated it: hated it for its truth, hated it for the accuracy of its forecast, but most of all hated it for what it says about the culture in which we live.

    For any profession the pinnacle of success is not the unattainable perfection in performance demanded by unreasonable critics, it is instead a perfection of commitment, as embodied in the physician’s Hippocratic Oath, the lawyer’s code of ethics, the public oath of office, and, most boldly, in the warrior’s unambiguous “Hoorah.” Fortunate is the patient of a committed physician, the client of an ethical attorney, the citizen of a dutiful civil servant, the nation of a courageous and disciplined military.

    This city has been served by a police department that has maintained a remarkable level of commitment given the unparalleled cultural changes of the last fifty years. The department has consistently bettered itself from the inside—prompted by the rank and file’s desire for tougher standards, better training and equipment, smarter methods, professional-level accountability. The men and women—not all of them, but certainly the vast majority of them, have lived up to their sworn commitment to duty and profession. They made their department—the city agency with by far the toughest job to do, as efficient, effective, and professional an organization as there is in the city, or anywhere in government, for that matter.

    SJPD members provided this city a reliable, high-performance, economy car only to see Mayor Reed, self-proclaimed champion of all things green, abuse it and part it out as if it were a smoke-belching, fuel-guzzling, rusting hulk. Cutting costs is his excuse, but it is an excuse designed to conceal the true cost of a city government that for forty years has put the politics of race, gender, and class above its core responsibilities. A city government that can’t do without paying homage to Mexicans, Filipinos, Gays, Aztec gods, Vietnamese, African-Americans, and illegal aliens has proved itself quite willing to let its taxpayers go without decent pavement, open libraries, maintained parks, trimmed trees, adequate fire coverage, and, now, police protection.

    Excellence in government, always a rarity, has now been deemed expendable. The wisdom that produced the Civil Service System, the courage and idealism that drove corruption out of police work, the professionalism that inserted objectivity and fairness into “Protect and Serve,” will die a slow death at the hands of the politically-correct whores who are committed only to their own careers. SJPD, for so long a national model of how to do things right, will soon go down in infamy—along with the manufacturing sector, the real estate market, and the American dollar—as once great things ruined by government.

    The city that provides its citizens with a fabulous facility to celebrate the heritage of Mexico can’t find the money to honor its own nation’s independence, and the public utters hardly a peep. This is the progress of the Progressives: they push socialism and preach peace, only to inevitably drive up the price of gold and ammunition.

  17. One of the problems with Webby’s reporting is his idiotic attempts to review data to find “patterns of misconduct”. For example, he was going to find fault with the investigation of property crimes because he saw a spike in crimes and a decline in “solved” cases. He immediately assumed that it was because the cops were not investigating crimes. He failed to understand that from 2007-2010 there was a huge increase in mortgage fraud and related scams associated to those events. These are time consuming cases requiring hundreds of man hours to investigate. In addition many of these cases involved elders, which per county protocols, require that these get priority. So once it was explained to Webby, he wander off to find more “corruption” at the agency. Webby has no clue about police management practices, investigative practices or anything having to do with law enforcement. Instead he tries to find minor variances and tries to prove that this means corruption. Much like the variances having to do with arrest statistics. It appeared that the agency was arresting more African Americans than their population representations. Any beat cop and investigator would tell you that most were from out of town, predominately the East Bay, Oakland and Richmond. Webby didn’t care. He thought he found his culture of corruption. After tracking arrest reports that showed the city of residence of arrestees, it proved the cops were right again and Webby was wrong. Hmmmm time to find another angle.

    Here is the problem with the agency. The Chief and his commanders don’t have the guts to tell the Merc and its biased journalism to piss off. Chief McNamara called a news conference in the late 80’s and called out the Merc for its biased and slanted reporting. He tossed out the reporters who had a desk at the agency and refused to give any interviews with the Merc. Time for Chief Moore to grow a pair and tell the Merc to go pound salt. He needs to confront their biased reporting with his own news conferences and shine the light on the shady efforts by Webby and others to damage the reputation of the men and women of SJPD by the use of innuendo, lies and distortions.

    Finally Moore needs to realize his own job is Chief of SJPD, not director of some bogus Federal program. He needs to show up to briefings, and even take a patrol car out and shag a few calls with his officers.

  18. Seems like most big city police chiefs are just political figure heads now and represent prevailing political wisdom and preferences from the elected leadership. 

    As such, they aren’t especially useful from an operational standpoint but are very important for public relations types of things.

    Don’t actually know how engaged SJ’s chief is or is supposed to be in day to day operations but suspect there are plenty of other competent folks at various ranks that keep things running smoothly.

    I actually thought promoting from within for current and some past chiefs was showing some common sense in the face of tokenism and political pandering.  Time will tell, but the remarks about the 30 day impound being a political chip traded for support sound significant.

  19. But the solution will not be forthcoming any time soon.  The days of a strong police chief in San Jose are long gone.  Reed and Figone have emasculated the once proud SJPD with their support of lock the office door and hide Davis and the choosing of a successor who will toe the city manager’s line every time.  Who is to blame for this?  The citizens who have told Reed and Figone that they have carte blanche to do whatever it takes to put money back into their wallets.

    As a result, Reed and Figone have been empowered enough to quite literally institute any program that they wish and cut any program that they dislike without question.  The citizens have given Reed and Figone absolute power and there is no counter-balance.  Some of the more proliferate whiners here on San Jose Inside might want to reconsider their positions.  Some day these dictators might just take a position that they don’t like and they will have no recourse.  Good government has always been facilitated by oversight and balance.  Those two have left the San Jose building….

  20. The patrol officers are annoyed with the overall lack of leadership..
    The command is absent. Everyone is evacuating this department
    If they can. The majority left are beaten down by excess oversight
    by the auditor, lack of money, lack of personnel, and lack of support
    from leaders such as the Chief.  Most do as little as possible because
    of apathy to the city or a fear of politically sustained complaints from IA.
    These are your protectors now.  The mindset is, “Let it Burn”.

    How do we fix this?

  21. Since the title is ‘Reporting Crime’, I felt that the following two articles deserved mention. The first is the Mercury News article which reported that a four year old boy had been killed in Santa Rosa in a hit and run collision committed by an unlicensed driver with two prior arrests for driving without a license.

    Frankly, I think that it is gross negligence bordering on the criminal on the part of the Fourth Estate that this horrific crime received a scant six sentences while muckraking Sean Webby sees fit to devote numerous paragraphs attempting to insinuate that the SJPD C.O.P. is somehow doing something improper in taking various trips.

    At least the San Francisco Chronicle had enough decency and enough honesty to write a decent article describing the incident (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/20/BAAK1KPJCV.DTL) and follow it up with an additional article (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/23/BAKT1KQCNH.DTL). Why is it that in both articles, the Chronicle is honest enough to note that the suspect is an illegal immigrant while the Merc gave absolutely no mention of this even though the information was available in the original article.

    Additionally, I would like to hear where the ACLU of Northern California, Asian Law Alliance, Justice for Palestinians, Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network; East Side Heroes Nonprofit, Most Holy Trinity Church, and Pax Christi – East San Jose all stand on this incident. I suspect that they would either remain silent or try to convince the public that these are isolated incidents. They are not. It has happened here in San Jose, and these organizations were just as silent then. Furthermore, it would be disingenuous for them to attempt to assert that illegal immigration and gang violence in San Jose are unrelated issues. The whole Norteno vs Sureno thing is practically predicated on illegal immigration owing to the fact that Surenos are largely derived from illegal immigrants, that gang violence is generational and that Nortenos will attack anyone who they think looks like a Sureno (whether or not they are) providing that the opportunity and means are present.

    Lastly, Chief Moore recently instituted a policy in which cars driven by unlicensed drivers are largely left with the unlicensed driver to be driven away. I wonder if Chief Moore was aware of the two studies (http://www.aaafoundation.org/pdf/unlicensed2kill.PDF and http://www.aaafoundation.org/pdf/UnlicensedToKill2.pdf) conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety which found that 20% of all fatal traffic accidents involved at least one driver who was not properly licensed at the time of the crash. Twenty Percent. This is an average that is consistent in California. In light of these findings by a non-partisan, non-profit research organization I wondered if Chief Moore might not revisit (and hopefully revoke) this policy in the interest of public safety, which is, after all, our raison d’etre.

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