Police Chief Broke Rules by Accepting 49ers Tickets; Top Rank Complicates Investigation

The San Jose Police Department will face another investigation after it was reported that Chief Larry Esquivel accepted free tickets from the San Francisco 49ers in violation of city rules.

Esquivel, Assistant Chief Eddie Garcia and Deputy Chief Jeff Marozick all received tickets to a preseason football game in August last year as part of "Law Enforcement Appreciation Day." Garcia and Marozick's attendance at the game, which violated city policy regarding police accepting gifts, had already been reported. NBC Bay Area broke the story that Esquivel also violated city rules.

It appears none of the three officers reimbursed the cost of the tickets until after Garcia and Marozick's attendance was reported.

San Jose policy prohibits city officials from accepting gifts worth more than $50 and specifically bans tickets to sport events. SJPD policy bans it as well, noting that officers shouldn't be allowed to receive gifts not offered to the general public. Police spokesman Sgt. Albert Morales downplayed the violation when speaking to NBC.

"The duty manual says that in our official capacity, our position, we will not 'seek' tickets," Morales told the news station. "Now, again, this law enforcement appreciation was an invitation by the 49ers."

Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell disagrees, insisting that the duty manual is pretty straightforward on that point. She also says the fact the indiscretion was committed by San Jose's top cop could complicate an investigation of the matter.

Normally, Cordell forwards citizen complaints to SJPD's Internal Affairs unit, as she did when someone called about Esquivel accepting free tickets. The police then conduct an internal review and Cordell audits that work. In this case, however, that's not happening, because it would require officers to investigate their boss, Esquivel. So, the city manager's office has taken over.

What that means is the review won't get audited by Cordell, who only works with cases coming out of Internal Affairs.

"Does this pull it out from civilian oversight?" asked Cordell. "These are unchartered waters, as far as I can tell."

Cordell worries that exempting SJPD's top brass from her oversight could hurt public trust in the department, which has already been shaken by reports of cozy relationships between officers and secondary employers, such as the 49ers.

"We are set up to build trust in the process," Cordell said. "What message does this send to the rank and file?"

City spokesman Dave Vossbrink said the city manager dealt with the issue, so it's case closed.

"It was never an IA investigation," he said. "The facts were simple, and as the [city manager's] memo explains, the city will review policies and make any changes that will help prevent future mistakes. I’m not aware of any IPA role in this matter."

In a memo sent out Thursday evening, City Manager Ed Shikada said he would update the language of the gift ordinance to make it "clear, unambiguous and practical, and to confirm and clarify the prohibition of acceptance of tickets to professional sporting events."

Although, existing language seems to state that pretty clearly.

In her year-end reports, Cordell has often recommended that the city come up with a procedure to handle reviews of of high-ranking officers. Otherwise, police have to investigate their superiors, creating an inherent conflict.

"There's an issue building here that needs to be addressed," Cordell said. "If I'm told to butt out, then I'm not going to be quiet about this. I think it's wrong."

Police were already conducting an internal investigation into the relationship between officers and the 49ers after concerns were raised about conflicts of interest from allowing officers to moonlight security details for the club.

Complicating that probe is the fact that one of the officers in charge of the Internal Affairs unit allegedly falsified evidence that led to a man's arrest. On Tuesday, the City Council will consider shelling out $190,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by 22-year-old Ammir Umar, who claims that Sgt. Craig Storlie made false statements that landed him behind bars.

In a motion rejecting Storlie's call for summary judgment, U.S. Northern District Judge Howard R. Lloyd slammed the officer for lying under oath, calling statements he made incriminating Umar "patently incorrect" and "materially misleading."

Also, Storlie is reportedly overseeing the investigation of officer Geoffrey Graves, who was accused of raping a woman while on duty.

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

33 Comments

  1. “Although, existing language seems to state that pretty clearly.” A link to that existing language would be helpful.

  2. Esquivel was tight with disgraced Supervisor Shirakawa. He accepted free meals, golf and other social events Shirakawa illegally paid with his county credit card. Esquivel quietly cut the county a check to cover what he thought was his portion of those improper charges. So this isn’t the first time Esquivel was caught accepting improper gifts. He tried to pay his way out now a second time. Obviously the City Manager needs to get rid of Esquivel and Garcia. Time to bring in a Chief from outside to do some housecleaning.

  3. The Chief was a good boy and helped his buddy Sam during the campaign, so all is forgiven.

    • Jennifer, City Manager , IPA & NAACP,

      Please explain to me why the city of San Jose under Chuck and council have for years been offering all city employees, including San Jose Police free access to the cities suite at Sharks games for FREE (up to 20 visitors, including family) this included FREE parking passes.

      This to me seems to be in direct violation of city and police policy. Now you want to deflect the blame? I am sure city council take family and friends to this very same suite. So who do we blame? Yep the SJPD! Get a grip Mayor and others, what is next when the Earthquakes open.

      What is wrong with this picture, yep you get the picture, another cheap shot at the most hated department in San Jose.

      • I think we all agree that no one should get free stuff.

        However, there would seem to be a huge difference between someone getting invited to an “Appreciation Day” and gifted a couple of (unsolicited) game tickets when compared with some cop in a Serpico movie who jams up a junkie and takes his dope and money; or who pulls someone over and tells them they won’t get a citation if they fork over some 49’er tickets. I’m not making excuses for anyone but sometimes in life things are not always so clear cut..

        In my former “official capacity” I once responded on a call, fished an infant out of a backyard pool, gave it CPR and it lived (I think it probably would have anyway since the ambulance was not even half a minute behind me and, by the time I got the baby out of the pool, I barely got in a breath or 2 and a few compressions before they got the breather bag on the kid and the hospital was right nearby).

        Anyway, despite the actual facts, the family was crying and hugging me as the ambulance left with the baby and mom in tow. I tried to explain that I had not really done anything (except for getting my uniform pants soaked through to my skivvies). The next day the family came to the PD and dropped off a “thank you” card addressed to me, a huge cake and a huge bundle of flowers. The total “gratuity” seemed to be easily over the statutory limit of $50. Should I have told the family to take it back? Should I have called Internal Affairs or Judge Cordell to come seize the cake as evidence?

        Allright! You got me! I did it! I took the cake! And I shared it with all the records clerks and with my team members and sergeant! We’re all corrupt!!!

        Folks, if someone invites you to their “Appreciation Day”,then says nice things about you and the work you do and offers you a couple of (unsolicited) tickets (They weren’t even box seats either, were they?), isn’t it somehow politically and socially obligatory to be polite, to smile and accept them than to knock them away and yell “Get thee behind me Satan!”

        Accepting those tickets violated the letter of the law but does it rise to the level of a second “Knapp Commission”?

        I have never socialized with Mr. Esquivel and I doubt he considers me a friend but I have known him (professionally) since he was a snot-nose rookie cop on up to captain rank.. His integrity and work ethic are well known to be beyond reproach (and I don’t even say that about myself half the time). I have little doubt that the public embarrassment of this matter is a far worse punishment for him than practically any other punishment could be.

        The real problem is that this city has no real corruption so the local media grabs it wherever they can.

  4. Look at the above link. Under section 12.08.030 Gifts not prohibited, subsection 3, it was not illegal for this family to do what they did for you.

  5. just a follow-up and waiting for a reply

    IPA

    Please explain to me why the city of San Jose under Mayor Reed and council have for years been offering all city employees, including San Jose Police free access to the city suite at Sharks games for FREE that includes FREE parking passes.

    This to me seems to be in direct violation of city and police policy. But nobody seemed to care. Now a public issue because of a domestic issue has changed pay jobs and the opportunity of officers to work on their days off to offset the amount of money they have to pay into their retirement.

    I know the city council take family and friends to this very same suite. So who do we blame or when it comes to other venues? Will this continue when the Earthquakes open?

    Time to rewrite the policy for All city employees and COUNCIL!

    Not so funny when this all goes public but the city has ignored it for years.

    I await your response

    • FYI,

      I sent this message to the IPA and NAACP with my personal email and have yet to receive a reply. I guess they do not care other than to make a political comment. So much for an open discussion, is there something you do not want posted, or are you just grand standing as usual? OR is the city in violation of their very own policy?

  6. We need to decide if the chief’s violation is one of ethics or rules.

    If the issue is rules then the matter is simple, for all that need be decided is whether the rule violated is one whose current status is “good rule” or “bad rule,” for none of us can be so dumb as to pretend the old adage “a rule is a rule” has any meaning left in this society. For example, a rule currently enjoying “good rule” status is anything, no matter how insignificant, from that set of rules (police manual, penal code, court decisions, etc.) that applies to the actions of police officers as they do their very difficult jobs. A clearcut violation (such as forgetting to get a signature on a consent form when taking a photograph) will result in discipline, while anything borderline or questionable is still subject to being leaked to the news by the headline-grabbing police auditor. An example of a “bad rule” — one being consistently ignored, can be found in every single hiring or promotional process where, despite state law (established by popular vote) and civil service rules prohibit the consideration of race or gender, those two attributes remain the first consideration. As long as one acts in concert with the values of the media, a rule can mean anything one wants it to.

    If the issue is ethics then things become complicated, as ethics has been redefined from “principles governing moral conduct” to “procedures protecting interests.” To demonstrate this I refer to two recent events. In the first, an on-duty police sergeant learns of a potential problem developing in his city and responds to prevent it. His actions, branded unethical by the police auditor and the news media, are elevated into a scandal. In the second, a city councilman/mayoral candidate grabs a loudspeaker and riles up a racially-sensitive crowd of local African-Americans by aligning himself with the convictions driving the rioters in Ferguson, Missouri. His actions, apparently deemed ethical by the local media, never make the news.

    In the first instance, the on-duty sergeant can be criticized because his actions were related to his side-job as a security professional, but what can’t be said is that they were intended to be detrimental to his employer or the public he serves. Using one’s special skills or personal knowledge to prevent a particular crime or keep the peace is a common practice, even if it requires operating out of one’s assignment (which explains the racial makeup policing the MLK Freedom Train). Because he went to a residence in San Jose hoping to prevent a nuisance from developing into a 9-1-1 call (which would require far more police resources than one officer), and later returned in response to a reported crime, it would be a great stretch to brand his actions unethical.

    In the second instance we have a councilman whose duty is to serve the interests of the citizens of San Jose, intentionally inserting himself into an outside issue so emotionally-charged that it has resulted in numerous injuries and tremendous property damage, and doing so in a manner as reckless as it was uninformed, in service to no purpose other than his desire to win the support of the NAACP. By linking the police actions in Ferguson, about which neither he nor the crowd could claim any unique, factual knowledge, to the performance of local police, Sam Liccardo lent credence to that community’s distrust of both the judicial process and SJPD’s commitment to fair and professional enforcement. So outrageous and irresponsible were his actions that to accuse him of being unethical seems insufficient, yet about his despicable conduct the local media, which operates without ethics or rules, remains mute.

  7. Why does SJI only print the negative stuff about the police and fire? I see that no one has reported on the victory of the engineers and FF unions in their PERB complaints in which the judge has determined that Measure B never should have been sent to the ballot when it was because the City had not negotiated in good faith. Here is the opinion relating to Local 230s complaint.

    http://sjff.org/items/Local230PERBDecision11.5.14.pdf

  8. > was because the City had not negotiated in good faith.

    This is why labor law is so ridiculous and I have so little faith in “negotiations”.

    How do you tell when someone is negotiating in good faith? When they look sincere?

    • Bubble,

      “Good faith” can be determined when Alex Gurza and the other city “bargaining team” members don’t play around on their cellphones and ask 0 questions during a 4 hour presentation only to say, “NO.”, then break for lunch and do it all over again.

    • If Mayor Reed and his majority on the Council allowed negotiations to be open to the public like ALL City bargaining units have asked for then you could attend and decide for yourself…

      • So, the labor law concept of “good faith bargaining” is based on what everyone in attendance decides for themselves.

        Sounds like the SJPOA could pack the room with their shills and get their way.

        Doesn’t sound like “rule of law” to me. Sounds more like rule of the SJPOA community organizers.

        • No. I know being obtuse is your nature but it really doesn’t lent itself to any sort of meaningful discussion.

      • you’re wasting your time , No answer will be good enough. Haters gonna hate

          • Mr. SJOUTSIDETHEBUBBLE ,

            Was it narcissism then when the SJPOA agreed to take that 10% pay cut, and cut their uniform allowance and some of the other “give backs” they conceded when mayor Reed had everyone convinced that the City was going broke? I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you actually believe any of what you have just said.

          • Ok since you seem seem to relish being treated like an imbecile I will explain my comment to you in greater depth. Should Reed and his council approve making labor negotiations open to the public then it would give people like you (who have deeply held opinion that the unions are not credible when explaining the issues they deal with in negotiating with the City) the opportunity to pull yourself away from your computer and attend an open meeting. You might listen to the City and then listen to the unions. You might review evidentiary type exhibits that both sides present to make their case for asking for a particular contractual item or opposing same. Then you may ponder, mull, think over discuss even…what you have seen and heard with your own eyes and ears.

            Then, if you still feel that the union’s claim that the City DOES NOT typically bargain “in good faith” you would be able to present you case from a position based on information rather than ignorance.

            Now I fully understand that you may not fully comprehend any thing I have explained or may try to twist what I have said into something I didn’t say which is your petty and sophomoric way …. in that case I accept full responsaibility for giving you too much credit.

  9. > Now I fully understand that you may not fully comprehend any thing I have explained

    And likewise, Mr. Wheedle, I am sure that you have not understood anything I have explained.

    I said: “How do you tell when someone is negotiating in good faith? When they look sincere?”

    Franklin D. Roosevelt was against the idea of “negotiating in good faith” with government employee unions because he was against the idea of “government employee unions”.

    Can you explain why?

    I don’t think you have ever given any indication that you realize that there might be view that is contrary to your point of view.

    Was FDR anti-government? Was FDR against the “working man”? Was FDR a Tea Party extremist funded by the Koch brothers? Did FDR “hate the police”? Was FDR an imbecile? Sophomoric?

    I am willing to accept that the “negotiations” between the City and the SJPOA reflected “good faith” on both sides because . . . because THERE WAS SO LITTLE TO NEGOTIATE?

    The disagreement between the City and the SJPOA is ultimately over a NUMBER: the SJPOA wants a BIG number, the City wants a SMALL number.

    Where does the “good faith” come in?

    “I want a SMALL number.”

    “No, I want a BIG number.”

    “OK. I’ll just play with my iPhone until you agree to my number. But, when you agree to MY number, you’ll be showing ‘good faith'”.

    Just stupid political games.

    • Mr.SJOUTSIDETHEBUBBLE, sir,

      FDR was not in favor of public sector labor unions because he believed that whereas public employees provided gov’t services, then public sector labor unions might be able to hold gov’t services hostage if union members were to go on strike. Since public safety employees cannot go on strike (and I don’t know any cop or fire fighter who would, even if it was allowed) then FDR’s concern would not be relevant here.

      The SJPOA did not ask for some huge, unreasonable wage increase. They asked only for a competitive wage increase in keeping with those pay and benefit increases that were offered by comparable cities and agencies. Recall that the SJPOA agreed to and did concede a 10% pay cut when mayor Reed (who was shopping for new baseball stadiums at the time) said that the City was out of money. However, the implications were that the wages and benefits would be restored once the City’s fiscal situation improved. “In good faith” the SJPOA made the concessions but instead of following through on his end, Reed instead replaced the bargaining table with a ballot measure, Measure B. The court has ruled that Reed’s actions were illegal and that would certainly almost define bargaining in “bad faith” and is in fact, evidence that Reed never intended to bargain at all. I don’t know how much more clear you need this to be.

      San Jose has binding arbitration to settle impasse between the City and the SJPOA. This encourages fairness and reasonableness when bargaining with the City, since public safety employees do not and will not go on strike or engage in work stoppages. In arbitration, both sides present their cases and an independent, objective state arbitrator, who is agreed to by both sides, then renders a decision as to which side had the more reasonable proposal. The arbitrator chooses one offer or the other, the arbitrator does not modify the proposals, so then the proposal that is the most reasonable is implemented. There is no “big number”, there is no “small number”. The side that proposes the most “reasonable number”, based on comparability studies and other factors then prevails. Reed had also been maneuvering to get rid of binding arbitration because it forced him to be reasonable and no tyrant likes to be told what to do or to be embarrassed when his edicts are not supported by reasonable people so he backed away from that idea, for now..So, under the guise of fiscal reform Reed instead mislead the public and did an end-run around the bargaining table and bargained by ballot box, by way of Measure B, which is to say, he refused to bargain at all, (the very definition of “bad faith”). Again, how much clearer does this have to be?.

      To answer your aforementioned questions, FDR was not anti-government, he did not hate the police, and he was not an imbecile. A “yes” answer to the latter question could only be applied to someone who would quote FDR out of context without the slightest idea of what he is talking about.

      In anticipation of your predicable vitriolic opprobrium toward the police, first ask yourself; Why is it that every other jurisdiction is able to pay competitive wages and benefits to their public safety employees while San Jose supposedly cannot?

      San Jose PD has just become a training ground for other agencies. Recruits go through the academy and if they don’t leave immediately upon graduating, then when they get their basic certification after 1 year, they leave for agencies who will provide reasonable wages and benefits, taking with them all the experience, training and resources San Jose had invested in them. Is that fiscal reform?

      • Well said… odd how SJOTB is so willing to sacrifice intellectual honesty by cherry picking something FDR supposedly believed that doesn’t apply to SJPOA or SJ Fire….

        SJOTB (now wondering how Mr. Wheedle could possible conclude this is odd) : aren’t you the guy upset at the socialist direction government across the US has taken? Sourcing FDR the father many socialist aspects of American government … ya it’s odd and wrong but is anyone surprised? You’re way off your game.

      • > Since public safety employees cannot go on strike (and I don’t know any cop or fire fighter who would, even if it was allowed) then FDR’s concern would not be relevant here.

        You’re pretending like “progressives” and their institlutions (e.g., SJPOA) have some kind of reverence for the rule of law. Have you noticed what your “progressive” president is doing to U.S. immigration law?

        • Mr SJOUTSIDETHEBUBBLE, sir

          Well, he’s not my president. I didn’t vote for him, I’m not taking that blame. And please, there are few things that raise my ire but you have hit a nerve (The ire is not directed at you personally) but “immigration politics” is like being slapped across the face and spit on to me.

          Back in 2003, a little 9 year old girl named Jeanette Tamayo was kidnapped right from out of her home and later brutalized by a suspect who was an illegal alien and who had already been arrested (at least once that we knew of, he had multiple identities) by SJPD for the “non-violent offense” of auto theft. SJPD officers are not allowed to initiate a call to the Immigration Service ( INS), without supervisory approval and no supervisor who wished to avoid a career ending decision, was ever likely (and to my knowledge it never was done) to take the chance of displeasing the chief, by authorizing such a call, due to the state of “immigration politics” in San Jose and the “command influence” exerted to prevent any notification of INS on any crime, except possibly tier 1 drug dealers or murderers. and even then I wouldn’t bet on it.

          The suspect, ultimately identified as David Montiel Cruz (that was the closest thing we could find for an actual true name on him, although he had been booked in on an alias, I think it may have been Enrique Alvarez) was released from jail (the details of the release were never clear to me) but he was let go and no immigration hold was ever placed on him. It is my recollection that the owner of the stolen car may also have been “immigrationally handicapped” and could not be located which may have made prosecution difficult. Those are the details I remember but I don’t have my notes and my memory may not be perfect.

          What is undeniable and that I will remember until the day I die is that we had this pervert in custody for auto theft and could not phone INS ourselves to have him deported. As a result of the chief and local politicians not wanting to take a chance on “offending” anyone in the race-politics industry, that maggot was never deported and that little girl was kidnapped from right inside her home, in front of her mother and brother who were beaten by the suspect, and that little girl was brutalized and raped over a 2 day period. but thankfully she was extremely resourceful and managed to escape. SJPD tracked down the suspect who was subsequently convicted and is serving 100+ years. (That you and I are paying for)

          I have tried to put this case out of my mind for years but anytime anyone mentions the sickening state of US Immigration politics/enforcement, it fills me with a red-hued, unholy rage. I know you didn’t intend to do it but as far as the heavens are above the earth, so too am I far from “progressive” on the immigration enforcement issue.

          If someone comes here legally, I would give them a ride home from the airport or the bus depot but if they sneak in and commit a crime, they’re out.

  10. Who would risk this over a pre-season game? SJPD, you’re better than that.

  11. I give up. Why does our chief of police want to look like an 18 year old jarhead fresh outta boot?