Community Forum Focuses on How to Improve Accountability in Local Law Enforcement

Two events in San Jose this month aim to build trust between local law enforcement and the communities they police.

The first one—hosted by People Acting in Community Together (PACT)—takes place on Jan. 12 and will focus on how to improve transparency and accountability in law enforcement. The second, which we wrote about last week, is set for Jan. 21 and part of an 18-month project launched by the city’s official police watchdog.

Both events feature some of the same speakers, including Mayor Sam Liccardo, police Chief Eddie Garcia and Independent Police Auditor Walter Katz. Next week’s panel also includes three San Jose council members, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and the head of the local jail guard union.

“We want to give police a chance to hear our concerns and we want to hear theirs,” PACT community organizer Jesus Ruiz told San Jose Inside. “By the end of it, we want a commitment from our officials that they will follow through with some action.”

PACT has hosted similar forums, but recent advances in technology and public policy have made the discussion about accountability all the more pertinent, Ruiz said.

“This issue has always been important,” he said, “but now we have the technology to back it up. Once we recognize there’s a problem, we can start talking about how to fix it.”

Mounting public pressure in response to numerous police killings of unarmed civilians throughout the country prompted local law enforcement to equip officers with body cameras. After years of stalling, San Jose finally rolled out its body camera program last fall. Since 2015, the city and county have been training officers about how to detect and minimize their own implicit bias.

In San Jose, Katz’s predecessor—LaDoris Cordell—persuaded the city to start collecting demographic data on traffic stops to address concerns that police disproportionately target minorities. When the San Jose Police Department finally disclosed that information, it confirmed that widespread suspicion: Latinos and blacks were far more likely to get pulled over even though they were less likely to carry contraband.

A state law going into effect next year will require law enforcement agencies to collect that same data about police stops and publish it online. The new rules aim to expose biases in policing and help local agencies correct it. The Attorney General’s Office is collecting public comment on the data collection plan through Jan. 27.

“We pushed very hard for that to pass,” Ruiz said. “And San Jose has already started looking at that data, so we’re making progress.”

WHAT: Accountability in policing forum
WHEN: 7pm Jan. 12
WHERE: Bible Way Christian Center, 2090 Oakland Road, San Jose
INFO: www.pactsj.org

Below is video of a previous of a previous PACT forum on police and community.

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.

15 Comments

  1. “… LaDoris Cordell—persuaded the city to start collecting demographic data on traffic stops to address concerns that police disproportionately target minorities.”

    Data collection began during Wm Lansdowne’s administration which ended long before Ms. Cordell rode her broom into town. But nice try at adding to the divisiveness.

    “Latinos and blacks were far more likely…”

    To:

    a. Be responsible for the deaths of blacks and latinos
    b. Be involved in criminal street gangs
    c. Be responsible for your house being burgled, your car being stolen, your grocer being robbed
    d. Get pulled over by the police
    e. All of the above

    If you answered d, you may be a fool or a liar… your pick.

  2. It’s really a deceit and a distortion to refer to this as a “Community-Led forum”.

    It’s really a progressive activist led forum.

    PACT is apparently one element of the PICO Network intended to co-opt religious groups into supporting a radical left wing agenda. Here is PICO’s take on illegal immigration, LA RED Project

    http://www.piconetwork.org/campaigns/la-red

    They advocate for “citizenship” but they’re against borders. How about improving accountability for immigrants in the observance of immigration laws.

  3. When is the forum on the disproportionate commission of crimes, and will SJI be covering it? Also, when did a small number of anti-police activists become “the community?”

  4. Oh yes, as a white old man I’ve taken full advantage of white privilege. I know full well I can weave in at out of traffic doing 65 around my hood, and 95 on the freeway in an 85 Buick lowrider, with a 10 megawatt subwoofer, while carrying a sawed off shotgun, a key of coke and, smoking a panatela sized roach, cuse smoky don’t see me as a problem.

    I just have to remember if I go to a Trump rally downtown I’m going to get my head busted by the rightful immigrants waving Mexican and black lives matter flags, while the SJ cops look on.

    I’m so privileged!

  5. An Accountability in Policing forum is long over-due. It’s important to know why a critically shorthanded police force squanders scarce resources:
    a. Provides airport security (when the SCC Sheriff under bid SJPD).
    b. Conducts gun buyback security theater (when there’s no demonstrable public safety benefit).
    c. Operates school crossing guard program and subsidizing County schools by about 50% (substantially less expensive when managed by school districts).
    d. Monitors card rooms when Code Enforcement staff is much less expensive and easier to hire.
    e. Fails to implement CompStat (or comparable analytic tools) to improve SJPD effectiveness and productivity.
    f. Fails to enforce homeless public feeding, littering, possession of stolen property, and sleeping on public property.
    g. Fails to conduct climate surveys to focus on employee retention and recruitment.

    Meanwhile our homicide rate increased by 60% in 2016 (as predicted by Columbia University researchers in Aug) and property crime has skyrocketed.

    These suggest severe leadership failures – not poor rank and file performance.

    The upcoming forums ostensible evidence of bias is flimsy at best: “Latinos and blacks were far more likely to get pulled over” – yet no other data is provided to suggest bias by SJPD. The facts suggest just the opposite. Conveniently, these are ignored.

    Those that are critical thinking challenged may want to rely on http://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations to gin up fake causality such as Cheese Consumption and People That Die In Tangled Bedsheets.

      • Pete,

        Why would you think ‘Taxpayer’ voted for that bloated tax increase? If Taxpayer is anything like I am, he/she votes against every tax increase proposal.

        Because after decades of shoveling money at problems, we are are no better off now than we were before the gov’t confiscated more and more of our money. What we really got for it was a giant, unaccountable, eternal bureaucracy.

        And the self-designated ‘community organizer’ Jesus Ruiz intoned:

        “Once we recognize there’s a problem, we can start talking about how to fix it.”

        Who is “we”, Jesus? There are problems, for sure. But the real problems aren’t listed in your self-serving agenda. And who elected you, anyway? I don’t recall your name appearing on any ballot.

        The lack of police is probably the major problem, and Taxpayer lists many other real problems. But sorry, Jesus, your problems are mostly in your own mind. What you’re doing is simply race-baiting; blaming Whitey for criminal activity by constantly harping on Latinos and blacks.

        Earth to Jesus: if you don’t wanna do the time, don’t do the crime.

        The biggest problem by far for the average citizen here (sorry, Jesus) is our overbearing, unresponsive, and rapidly expanding local governments, in which the electeds pay a lot more attention to their pet bureaucrats than they do to the citizenry.

        If anyone can show a way to reverse the nameless, faceless, un-fireable, and unaccountable bureaucracy that lives like a tick off the taxpaying public, they will be doing us a great favor. Me, I can’t see a way to get that bloodsucking tick out of our hair.

        • Smokey,
          We could start by dissolving this bureaucratic insanity called the “two highest vote getters, election system”.
          This guaranteeing a one party system formerly called a dictatorship, goes away with the dinosaurs that currently run it.

          Democrats are no longer democratic, the direction of the system is no longer voted on,
          only the who we will follow off the cliff is optional now.

          Look out Detroit here we come!

      • Pete,
        A-G plus plenty more, represent unwise spending. Citizens For Fiscal Responsibility published consolidated research from IBM, SJ Auditor, and Civil Grand Jury to detail how much more money could be saved than Measure B would allegedly generate ($143M v. $38M) per year. Based on SJ’s budget, Measure B’s forecast $38M income will be almost entirely consumed by SJPD salary and benefits – not infrastructure, parks, etc.

        It’s worth reviewing IPA’s 2015 data (2016 not yet published) http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/55841 see pages 49-52.

        Since 2011, enforcement actions and complaints have declined by about 1/3rd to 1/2 (depending on on the metric). Only 1 bias complaint has been sustained within the same time period.

        We don’t know how SJPD ranks to comparable PD’s, but seems likely that SJPD ranks among the best in overall improvement and in measured categories. But our crime rate has reached a 25 year high.

        I’m left scratching my head: what data merits these forums? Is our record breaking crime wave due to Garcia’s misplaced focus on public relations instead of public safety?

        Would be nice if SJI were more diligent in their coverage.

        • It’s due to not having nearly enough cops to police a city of more than a million people, which is the direct result of choices made by city government and the voters. Measure B was so radical that it left the city unable to be a competitive employer of police officers. The problem could’ve been addressed in a much more reasonable manner, similar to this year’s Measure F, without causing such devastation to SJPD. The blame lies with Reed, Liccardo and their cohorts, with an assist to all those in city government who, over the years, created the residential/commercial imbalance that makes paying for services more challenging for San Jose than it is for other local cities.

  6. Tomorrow’s SJ City Council meeting has details on the Accountability in Policing forum. Source: http://sanjose.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=&event_id=2666&meta_id=610038

    Cost: $181K from grant by Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
    Duration: Jan 1 2017 to June 20, 2018.

    “Projected Grant Outcomes:
    • Host a Community Trust in Policing Forum (with a minimum of 250 community leaders and stakeholders).
    This will be a full day conference that focuses on topics of high public interest such as policing,
    transparency, and implicit bias. (Jan 21st – press event from 8-9 am).
    • Host the “Barber Shop” series. The IPA will host a convening in partnership with the Police Department and
    community organizations, in each of the four policing divisions in the City of San Jose, where youth of color
    congregate (barber shops, nail salons and gyms).
    • Develop a report with a baseline measure for community trust and satisfaction on specific policing activities
    and, a report out of community proposed solutions.
    • Increased community awareness of the challenges and opportunities for law enforcement to improve
    quality, effectiveness, and community trust as measured by survey results.
    • Develop an action plan that describes strategies to build community resiliency and ensuring connectedness
    to vulnerable populations. Includes strategies at the division level. Identified solutions to serve as a springboard for future and ongoing dialogue between the police department and community members.
    • Develop a dashboard of key performance indicators and incidences in the community.”

    The good news is that taxpayer money isn’t used. The not-so-good news is that the baseline measure report is already available from the SJ Auditor’s survey as is data for the last KPI dashboard. No mention of comparative data.

    Interesting to learn that “youth of color” congregate at “barber shops, nail salons, and gyms”. No mention of schools or youth centers or even the definition of youth.

    Important to note that the Projected Outcomes fail to address SJPD’s fundamental mission: public safety.

    • Maybe the “Youths” that need reaching are at juvenile halls, malls and railroad overpasses.

    • “Taxpayer money isn’t used” only if you discount the payroll costs associated with the presence/participation of representatives from government agencies.

      The underlying fault with these forums is that no one can or will speak the truth about these statistics. Simply put: Latinos and Blacks commit crimes – primarily crimes of violence, drugs, various street crimes, and property crimes – at rates which exceed their population representation. Any community action or forum is pointless and useless if it fails to recognize this fact and which fails to develop meaningful remedies which address these realities.

      And “implicit bias” is just a way of deflecting responsibility for these facts. I think paraphrasing a Facebook post I read a while back best sums up the underlying premise of ‘implicit bias': “If you’re a white person, you have racist attitudes. If you deny this, that just means you can’t acknowledge your racism”.

      • Officer A, Thanks for your service, and you are absolutely correct. I misspoke. There are abundant indirect and probably some direct costs that probably aren’t captured in the grant and consequently borne by taxpayers.

        The 2014 FBI UCR stats show Arrests by Ethnicity. The Census Bureau shows US population percentages.
        White Arrests: 67.1%, White Population: 77.1%
        Black Arrests: 30.0%, Black Population: 13.3% Ratio: 2.25
        Latino Arrests: 20.2%, Latino Population: 17.6% Ratio: 1.15

        CA’s Black percentage: 6.5%. Black + serving CA 3 Strikes convictions: 48%

        I don’t find CA Dept of Corrections 3 Strikes breakdown by race & gender. I’d imagine that 3 Strikers are almost entirely male. If so, we have about 3.3% of CA’s population (Black males) that comprise 48% of our 3 Strikers.

        Seems pretty clear that few criminal behaviors are changed by incarceration.

  7. ‘Youth of color’?

    Let’s call the next one ‘White youth’, ‘K? Because that wouldn’t be racist, would it?

    Or… instead of wasting all that money on criminals-in-training, maybe they could have some meetings on ‘Guiding Colored Youths Toward Being Productive, Law-Abiding Citizens…

    …Nah. No ‘youths’ would attend.

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