SJPD’s Top Brass Not Thrilled with Security Camera Program

Mayor Sam Liccardo’s pet project to have home security cameras feed into a San Jose Police Department registry will soon get off the ground.

On Thursday, the city sent out an announcement asking the public to volunteer their video feeds to police. The goal is to assist an understaffed force with burglary and robbery investigations--a unit that has been disbanded.

But not everyone in the SJPD shares Liccardo's enthusiasm. As previously reported, Police Chief Larry Esquivel and his top command staff have often bristled in emails at the direction from civilian bosses at City Hall. One of the emails discussed the security camera registry program.

In messages between the city manager's office and police brass on Ag. 19, 2014, former assistant city manager Pam Antil, who has since left the city with a sweet $100,000 severance deal, offered to have an assistant train officers on how to access the system. Patrick Heisinger, who allegedly threatened a fellow employee last fall and was subsequently involved in an internal investigation before bouncing back to the Housing Department, was the point person for the project.

Lt. Anthony Mata, head of  Research & Development Unit, forwarded the email to Chief Esquivel, Asst. Chief Eddie Garcia and Deputy Chief Dave Knopf, asking "Who's interested??"

Knopf, who oversees the Bureau of Administration but will soon take over the coveted top spot for the Bureau of Field Operations, replied to Mata's email with an audio attachment called "cricket-sound.mp3."

In the body of the email, Knopf added, “Just saying.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 12.27.39 PM

Josh Koehn is the managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Josh_Koehn.

37 Comments

  1. Somewhat related,

    I’m reaching out to the Guardian Angels. SF and SAC both have a chapter, and given the current situations in San Jose we need them here. We need to get boots on the streets, not cameras. If we can’t support the SJPD enough to maintain staffing levels, us citizens will need to rely on ourselves.

    Just Saying.

    • Agree!! If Mayer can’t maintain staffing for SJPD and do what is right for San Jose, CA.. San Jose is not the same town I grew up in 65 years ago.. No cameras!! Get Guardian Angels to help San Jose!! The wrong man is Mayor if he can’t see what San Jose needs is more police and all Depts like Burglary and Robbery, Gang Force up and running, again!!

  2. So I guess when the cops are investigating a crime, they can’t take a second or two to look and see if a house or business has a camera system….Plenty of residences that have been burglarized have cameras, but there are no resources to follow up on it….Also the mayor said on KGO 7 only a couple of criminals are responsible for the city wide increase in burglaries…Hahahaha

    • Police officers do canvass neighborhoods to ask residents about their security cameras in certain situations. That’s how they caught the downtown arsonist last year. The point of the registry is so that they know the locations of security cameras and don’t have to go door-to-door asking for them. It’s virtually cost-free and helps us do more with the resources we have available. How could that possibly be a bad thing?

      • It only saves the time it takes to knock on a door and ask for the footage- the patrol officers already at the scene of the crime can simply see whether there are cameras installed or not. It still takes manpower to then collect the footage, book it as evidence and review it- a registry doesn’t help there.

        The registry only provides contact information… Someone still has to make contact with the person who *might* have potential evidence. It’s a pointer- that’s all.

        It’s truly “boots on the ground” that obtain evidence and make it worthwhile, not silly registry ideas.

      • Carthagus its not that its a bad thing. Its just political grandstanding. Officers do go door to door and walk up and down the streets. The problem with relying on the registry is that not everyone will register. So we would still have to do the canvass on top of the registry. If critical footage were on a non registered camera then officers might assume that there is no camera at that house with the critical footage. Its just a bunch of silly political games. I know many don’t want to believe that the officer ratio has no bearing on crime. If there were more officers we would have more detectives in burglary, auto theft, robbery and now even homicide to follow up on leads, conduct follow up interviews and write search warrants. People just can wrap their mind around all of this. Somehow everyone believes its all about just boots on t he ground or a cop at every corner. There are no cops advocating that is the solution. The problem is that SAM knows the root cause of a lot of the soaring crime, its staffing and he is a lot like Obama. He doesn’t want to acknowledge the mistakes and true needs of the citizens.

        • Thanks for your insightful comments. Helps to explain the absence of enthusiastic support by SJPD.

  3. I hate this political comment “We need to get boots on the streets” Hell lets just arm citizens for patrol. How about we come to terms that this council is responsible with measure B for running public safety and other city employees into the ground. Most are jumping of a sinking ship. The current offer by the city is a slap in the face to current and retired employees who’s health care is thru the roof. Robert, you need to reach out to the idiot mayor and not some GA’s. Why not hire a kid to sit in front of each house. Come on, go the source of the problem – city council! Hope I do not see you on my camera feed.

    • Ya you know, I’ve tried. I know Rose really well, and I know she’s not going to budge because of how the POA went hard on the attack after she supported measure B. I’m not going to get into the past of why she went with it. We need to focus on the future. Right now the SJPOA has a chance to build rather than burn some bridges.

      Biggest lie I ever heard in politics, “You don’t hold grudges, you move on” Actually heard that from an interview Dave gave Christenson today. Sure, that’s what you tell the public, but every elected official I’ve met holds grudges, and they hold grudges on behalf of their allies.

      I’m going to keep reaching out to the GA’s, because I see it as the shortest route to solving some of these problems. You/Rose/Sam can keep bickering about pensions while the city burns, I’m going to go out there and do something about it. Thanks.

      • What a waste of time and grand standing, do you really think this will work. I would rather have the SJPD officer and his security company.

        • What a waste of time and grand standing, do you really think this will work. I would rather have the SJPD officer and his security company.

          How is it grandstanding? This site is not the most popular in the world. http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/sanjoseinside.com

          I would love to have real officers too, unfortunately I think the relationship with the current administrators is too soured to have anything short term. It would be amazing if things changed, and in time they will.. Let’s face it though, government has a reputation for being slow to respond. We don’t need slow, we need now.

          • lol teabagger for cortese…..only because he’s related otherwise hahaha anonymous blog boards are a joke

  4. Officers already canvass the surrounding streets looking for cameras. It’s been common practice and has led to some great arrests. A database is silly nonsense. It’s a smoke and mirror for sam to look like he’s doing something. We need more burglary detectives to follow up on all the cold reports being taken. This city hall and it’s residents just don’t get it.

  5. SJ has not made a concerted effort to tap ‘low hang fruit’ savings. Example: gainsharing in which employees get cash for proven cost savings ideas. Fed & many cities & states do this. Taking just 25% of benchmarked savings others see X CSJ’s 5,600 employees saves $35.9M / year – more than enough to fund the $20M needed for SJPD.

    Have the County handle EMS calls (County required by law to provide. SJ residents pay tax on a service we don’t get) would save millions more. And that’s not counting using EMS SUVs as is done in Europe. It was recommended by City Auditor several years ago, but not implemented. San Diego’s saved millions via internal competition. Etc. Etc. Etc.

    NetNet: no good faith effort to tackle costs. more than enough savings opportunity to address our critical needs and to do it quickly.

    Back to crime: NYU just published a study “What Caused The Crime Decline” of the 50 largest US cities 1994-2012. A key take-away is that CompStat adoption seems responsible. The report lists the change in crime the year before v. the year after data analytics were used. Pg 74 shows SJ implemented “RCITI” but lacks data on effectiveness.

    BTW, former SJPD Chief Chris Moore’s application for the top cop job in Phoenix (which he didn’t get) claims he implemented CompStat. But after he left, a SJPD press release promoted RCITI as the Next New Thing to reduce crime & no mention I’ve seen of CompStat since.

    I don’t know what SJPD is using or how effectively analytics are employed. But CompStat seems like a much more effective tool than home security cameras. FWIW, haven’t located anything where hooking PD with home security cameras worked elsewhere. As another commenter mentioned, cops look for these anyway, so what’s the tangible gain?

    Instead of pioneering new, unproven approaches, maybe it’s time to do what’s worked elsewhere.

    Sorry for venting. It’s so frustrating at times.

    • Mr. Taxpayer, sir.

      You mentioned “RCITI” and other statistical/analytics that the SJPD top Command and Administrative personnel have previously espoused. Empty rhetoric such as “RCITI” is just the latest “Frivolous Administrative Distraction” (acronym: F.A.D); Just more programs to create the illusion of progress, without costing anything, accomplishing anything or offending anyone and, of course, to give the appearance of addressing, in an innovative, analytical manner, the very problem from which it was designed to deflect attention.

      As an example, suppose a department is dangerously short-staffed. Now, any progressive police administration., rather than by making requests for costly increases in staffing, wages and benefits and equipment, and risking angering the politicians at City Hall and prompting them to puddle themselves, any progressive police administration would instead divert attention away from the actual staffing problem through use of a F.A.D.

      Imagine how progressive a police administration would appear when announcing the formulation of a study to “Maximize Available Non-Uniform Resources Effectively” (acronym: M.A.N.U.R.E). Think about it. Is there a mayor or a police chief anywhere who would not prefer to cover up a staffing issue with M.A.N.U.R.E rather than risk facing reality and trying to actually solve the problem by offering competitive wages and benefits sufficient to attract and retain more officers.

      Rather than using some acronym like “RCITI”, why not use an acronym that is more accurate and closer to the truth. Instead of “RCITI”, let’s call such banal statistical analysis or studies what they are, “Critical Review Auditing Policy” (acronym; C.R.A.P)

      Now let us again, remind ourselves that the “elephant in the living room” is Measure B. We do not need the camera on grandma’s roof; little Johnny’s cell phone cam; a consultant (who charges exorbitant fees to tell us what time it is after he borrows our watch) or a statistical genius or other C.R.A.P to see the obvious, i.e., that Measure B precipitated the rapid, mass exodus of experienced SJPD officers. Measure B, and the City’s unwillingness to negotiate a mitigation of the damage it caused, is not fiscally sane but is instead an instrument for “Thwarting Enforcement, Renewing Demoralization: (acronym; T.E.R.D.)

      We don’t need another catch phrase, acronym, or phony political “program” like “RCITI”, a clone of it, or another F.A.D.. We need to stop throwing “M.A.N.U.R.E and C.R.A.P. at the problem, get rid the T.E.R.D. that is Measure B and do something substantial to support the beat cop, raise morale and offer wages and benefits sufficient to attract and retain more officers. We don’t need yet another of the mayor’s L.A.M.E (Liccardo’s Asinine Minimal Effort) solutions.

  6. How many more examples do we need of out right insubordination from SJPD? First it was dash cams, then tasers, then body worn cameras and now voluntary surveillance camera registry?!!!

    I completely understand that all new technologies and or tactics should be reviewed by the POA because it is their officers who are directly exposed to any liabilities in relation to the use of the technology or tactic; However, I think something a little bit more pernicious (mean spirited) is going on here.

    How is it that the command staff (Captains on up) are allowed to be so insubordinate when it comes to direction from the City Manager or Mayor’s office?!

    Sure, the policy makers and CMO can be meddlesome and a pain in the ass some times, but lets be crystal clear – the City Charter expressly lays out the ultimate chain of command and authority for the City of San Jose, and it certainly does not rest with the Chief of Police and his command staff. Chief of Police on down to the FTO serves at the pleasure of the City – period!!!

    Now of course the Chief and his commanders will say they are not insubordinate, but please how long does it take to put a camera registry on-line??? For all intent and purpose it’s an excel spreadsheet!!!

    The standard operating procedure is this – any idea, suggestion, etc. is “taken under advisement,” or “reviewed by a internal pd study group,” And because the CMO or Council doesn’t want to appear meddlesome they let the department stretch things out until it’s embarrassingly obvious. The camera registry was recommend in February of last year….

    San Jose PD prides itself on being one of the best agencies in the state. But is it really?! A fair conversation can be had about the impacts of Measure B and the disability benefits, but a lot can be said for how the department and its leadership has become its own worst enemy.

    At every turn SJPD has turned down opportunities to shore up its depleted ranks with technology or outside agency support. There are some great examples of SJPD leaning into the work and solving homicides, and breaking up burglary rings. But, smaller agencies in the Bay Area have adopted a lot of these new technologies, and leaned on inter-agency cooperation when needed- Not San Jose.

    You combine the inability to change with the times and the complete take over of the POA and you get what comes next…

    • Excellent points, but not sure they apply. FWIW, I don’t see evidence that insubordination would be tolerated either (Gurza was reportedly ousted for insubordination; Shikada didn’t have a “Mother, may I?” mandate from Council, but evidently Liccardo/Council didn’t like his acting without it. Remember, he received a stellar performance review just a month or so before).

      1. CopCams are an idea that’s been promoted by IPA head Cordell. Cameras aren’t too expensive, but the TCO – total cost of ownership can be huge. The primary justification is to counter unwarranted excessive force & other complaints – not reduce crime, but reduce litigation & settlement costs. So far, SJ has paid out relatively little. That’s really a testament to SJPD’s professionalism. Anyway, tough to justify when as Liccardo has claimed, “We’re broke.” The cost is reportedly in the millions per year. The vender proposal is marked Confidential and can’t be sprung by a records request.

      There’s been no mandate and no money budgeted to fund CopCams.

      2. Likewise, I’m not aware that there was every a mandate to embrace a private security camera registry. Remember, this was advanced by Liccardo during the election run-up. No significant downsides have been identified, but no significant upsides either.

      There are plenty of “good ideas” and their champions are always eager to promote them. SJPD brass acted pretty much like I would: ask subordinates, does this seem useful? Per disclosed emails, they effectively responded with “no interest”.

      Missing in all of this is, who will support it? how much will it cost? where’s the funding? is staff workload available to handle it? etc. etc. These are the kinds of project / program questions that any manager needs to consider. If there were a mandate, then SJPD would have responded with, “Here’s what’s needed, when will we get money/resources or what do you want stopped to accommodate it?”

      And nothing’s been disclosed that addresses those aspects. The registry gives every indication of a “good idea” that failed to make the cut. From my perspective, SJPD brass acted responsibly. If Liccardo / City Hall really wanted it, they would have made it a funded project.

      3. Can’t speak to dash cams, tasers or other proposals – just don’t know the facts. But it’s important to recognize that change is tough. It’s particularly tough when a department (public or private) is barely hanging on. I’d resist *anything* that saps resources from my mission unless almost certain to have an immediate & significant payback. Seems like SJPD brass is managing in a sensible and practical manner. And glad they are.

      The one glaring exception is the silliness about drones for the SJPD bomb squad. Their Toys-R-Us version simply won’t do the trick. Better to have the Sheriff’s dept handle it like other Santa Clara County cities. They have much better equipment and training. Don’t understand why we even need a SJPD bomb squad, but that’s another matter.

      4. Let’s not forget that SJPD was one of the most innovative PDs in the county. Joe McNamara & team were leading the pack with new technology and methods to improve effectiveness and efficiency. And delivered results: “Safest big city in America” Sadly, our current situation doesn’t permit that today.

      • Great follow up Taxpayer. Maybe some other posters on SJI can take note that a good debate doesn’t require name calling and inflammatory rhetoric.

        I’ve attached the link to Liccardo’s Memo, and the Council action to direct to staff to establish the registry, and the minutes from the meeting.

        It’s my understanding that the registry was intended to be as low impact as possible on PD resources.

        http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/34814 (Liccardo’s Memo 21/08/14)
        http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/35003 (Council meeting synopsis. 9/9/14. Item 8.1)
        http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/38671 (Minutes from 9/9/14 meeting see 8.1)

        I think the larger issue in spite of SJPD & POA concerns is this – who is actually in charge at City Hall?!

        The City Charter outlines a “shared” cooperative arrangement between the City Manager’s Office (CMO) and the City Council. CMO responsible for day to day management with Mayor and Council responsible for policy and oversight.

        Anyone who has worked at City Hall will tell you that relationship at best is dysfunctional, at worst, toxic.

        San Jose runs its municipal government like Mayberry RFD! Yes, there was a time when San Jose was Mayberry – a small town,with a quaint downtown, and a place where young parents could afford to buy a home and raise their children in relative safety and peace of mind.

        But we are now the 10th largest city in the country; we are the third largest city in California; we are the home to 60% of Silicon Valley. However the discussion making and the approach governing is stuck in a bygone era.

        The City has an annual budget over a billion dollar, but it wasn’t until the late 70’s that council districts were established and the Mayor was actually elected by the residents and not a revolving seat on the council.

        At some point, like SJPD, city leaders need to seriously discuss the dysfunction and stop resting the false assumption that San Jose is the “capital” of Silicon Valley. Can we become the “capital” of Silicon Valley,

        A great city, a capital city, is not measured simply by how many skyscrapers it has or how many sports teams it has; it’s measured by the quality of its schools, the quantity & quality of its parks & libraries; the efficiency and effectiveness of the government and public safety; but most importantly, a great city is measured by the diversity and character of its people.

        Who should lead that change – the City Manager or the Mayor and City Council???!!

        • Bully – *thank you* for the links. Clearly, there *IS* a security camera registry mandate and I stand corrected.

          I share your frustration as do many others inside and outside of SJ government. A key culprit: NO TRACKING.

          For reasons that seem incomprehensible, there’s no “punch list” or “to do” list of Council directed items. Like many others, Sunnyvale’s City Council meeting agenda includes a “open item” list – Council directed items awaiting completion. Keeps everyone focused and feet held to the fire.

          SJ city staff routinely sit on items, Council staff typically only follows up after the Council member or constituent escalates. Items languish in administrative purgatory (examples: this topic, SJFD EMS SUVs, and many other Auditor / Civil Grand Jury recommendations too).

          Stunningly dysfunctional.

          Private meetings with Figone, Shikada, and barking at the Open Rules & Government committee have proved fruitless. Appending an “open items” list to the agenda doesn’t require Council approval though probably worthwhile. The City Manager / Clerk could ‘just do it’.

          Norberto: Are you listening? Otherwise maybe it’s time for a citizen led effort to compile and maintain one.

          “Delay is the deadliest form of denial.” – C. Northcote Parkinson

        • Interesting how the “who’s in charge” question was raised when it really isn’t even an issue. This is clearly a Reed-Liccardo wish that is being pushed by their supporters. The fact if the matter is Reed was literally in charge for the last 6 years, and here we are today…far off worse that even they could have imagined. The absolute worst thing San Jose taxpayers need is to give these losers more power.

          • Engineer,

            Thanks for the feedback. I assure you, I have no affiliation with the “Regime.” I just think it’s glaringly obvious that CSJ is a mess. I think most people would agree, you can’t do the big things if you don’t take care of the little things.

  7. What I wanna know is why this Patrick Heisinger guy is still working at the City after making threats against other workers. Didn’t you guys learn from the NFL scandals (Ray Rice)?

  8. Getting access to more evidence is entirely useless if there are no resources to process it.

    And regarding the current VM Herrera, that is so like her to make this completely about herself, at the expense of all San Jose residents that are now facing a relentless rise in crime, and that now want City leadership to solve it. RC according to you, she’s not going to do anything because she was taken to task for supporting an illegal Measure B, and this after she was initially supported by labor groups.

    Since this basically corrupt politician can’t see the greater good in resolving the rapidly deteriorating Police and City staffing problem that she, Reed, Oliverio, MNguyen, and Constant helped create, then maybe she should just stay away and let the whole thing crash, and THEN face the quickly-becoming hostile public she serves and explain why she wouldn’t do anything because her feelings were hurt.

    And just more clarification, the VM practices a form of self serving politics that is well suited for third world countries. Her gift of $600,000 in City money to her sons employer places her in that category.

    • Didn’t cameras capture her hubby disposing of campaign signs for the candidate running against her? Didn’ cameras capture PLO doing the same? So what good are cameras?

    • RC according to you, she’s not going to do anything because she was taken to task for supporting an illegal Measure B, and this after she was initially supported by labor groups.

      Well she wasn’t exactly “tasked” as you so eloquently put it. More like abusively harassed. Weed mentions below about the signs/Matt. Weed I saw everything go down so.. Yes, Ragu and Rollo saw him with the signs at a trash can in the park. You forget to mention she was finding them on her lawn every morning.

      The Engineer: A few columns back I asked the police here if it would all be “Water under the bridge” if CM Herrera changed her position now. Almost every cop answered NO!. If both sides are going to begrudge each other like that, then there is no hope for any change.

      • I meant that she was taken to task for her support of Measure B, not tasked. But anyway….

        If that is what happened, then I think most of us would not condone that behavior; I certainly do not. That just is not right to bait someone by deliberately placing someone else’s campaign signs in her yard. I can understand the feeling of harassment.

        But in the same right, a politician expects to receive political arrows from all directions, especially from opponents. This is not a reason to abdicate decision-making duties that are supposed to be for the benefit of those she serves. And right now, a shrinking police force, slow response times for 311, inadequate investigation, the delayed return of victims possessions collected from burglary suspects, and a host of other issues is NOT what any taxpaying San Jose citizen wants.

        And to keep this on topic, many people are indifferent about the camera registry too.

      • sorry for the ommission… I also failed to mention that the only reason there where cameras were in ghe park was because HERRERA’s neighbors had complained for weeks that her opponents signs were disappearing from their lawns soon after being put up and were located in the garbage at the park.

        • It’s too easy to turn it off when it’s convenient. Show me some video of Matt snatching signs, show me a video of Ragu Sauce following his car to and from the crime scene.

          The 30 second clip of a shaky camera pursuing an old man in the dark reminds me of a horror movie. Blair witch project? Just saying that because without context the whole thing looks staged, and humorously reminiscent of something produced by Johnny Knoxville.

  9. Yes Vice Mayor Whalin’s hubby was caught red handed! HAHAHAHA She is above everyone and now gets to cast a vote thanks to SAM! How crooked can things really get?