Independent Police Auditor Report Goes before City Council

Despite an uptick in crime and a top brass changing of the guard, fewer people logged complaints against the San Jose Police Department in 2012 compared to previous years. There was a 7-percent drop in citizen complaints last year, according to an annual report by the Independent Police Auditor’s office, which is on the agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

IPA LaDoris Cordell, a retired superior court judge, and her team agreed with the department’s handling of 247 cases, or 74 percent, in 2012. Cordell’s office noted concerns in 9 percent of cases last year, and it also found that fewer officers were disciplined after internal audits into alleged misconduct, dropping seven percentage points to 3 percent last year.

Cordell called on acting Police Chief Larry Esquivel to start tracking incidents of “curb sitting” to find out whether minorities are disproportionately subjected to the practice. Mayor Chuck Reed and council members Madison Nguyen, Sam Liccardo, Pete Constant put out a memo asking the city to look into the cost of taking on more bilingual officers to avoid discriminatory situations, like placing kids in protective custody situations.

“The conveyor belt to prison begins early in life for some children who are removed from difficult or unsafe family situations and placed into the child welfare system,” the memo says. “Sometimes there are better alternatives available, such as placement with relatives. Such alternatives can be missed when language barriers prevent officers from being aware of an alternative. These barriers may also be a contributing factor to the disproportionate number of Latino and African-American youth entering the child welfare system.”

Auditors made some other summary recommendations based on some complaints:

• Officers should get parental permission before driving a kid who’s not a suspect in a patrol car. Apparently, an officer at a school safety presentation let a kid hop in the car for a short drive and a parent complained.

• Have officers record their city vehicle use in a log, even if they’re driving to and from home, the report says. Make sure police who ask for Social Security information tell residents that it’s an option to oblige.

• In one case, a complainant’s father was shot and killed by an officer after being Tasered, but since the stun gun hadn’t been recalibrated in years it was tough to figure out if it was actually deployed. Cordell suggests recalibrating Tasers on an annual basis.

• Another time, a transgendered woman was offended when, she said, police called her “muchacho.” The audit calls for some sensitivity training to better deal with LGBT residents.

• In the same vein, Cordell says the department should update its website to make it easier for people to find out how to report hate crimes.

Overall, though, Cordell lauded the department for cooperating more with the independent auditors. After years of public outreach, more residents lodged a complaint with Cordell’s office than the police department, the report notes.

Police compiled their own annual report about the prior year’s department-initiated complaints, which also has dropped in the past few years. In 2012, the department investigated 27 sworn officers compared to 66 in 2010. That report goes before the council this week, too.

In 2012, the department investigated 80 allegations against sworn officers—70 percent of those accusations were sustained. Most officers receive oral counseling in response to an investigation, according to Esquivel.

The most common complaints in the past five years were for “conduct unbecoming an officer,” which is an allegation that a cop’s on- or off-duty behavior reflected adversely on the department.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for April 30, 2013:

• Through a federal-state agreement, California’s Employment Development Department can collect confidential information, like wage data, from employers. If the city wants to buy an ad hoc report to get a peek at some of that information, it has to enter into a contract with the EDD and pay $5,000 per ad hoc report. The council will consider whether to OK that kind of a contract to obtain quarterly employment data about San Jose-based firms. The information could help in coming up with a new economic development strategy, as the old one is about to expire.

Lie detector tests will cost SJPD nearly $160,000 this next year if a contract gains council approval.

• Construction of the San Jose Environmental Innovation Center project continues to be pricier than anticipated. Some change-orders will add up to about $1.1 million more than projected.

WHAT: San Jose City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

12 Comments

  1. The portion about needing more bilingual officers “to avoid discriminatory situations, like placing kids in protective custody situations” is utterly ridiculous.  Firstly, it is a very rare occurrence for San Jose officers to take kids into protective custody, and it would never occur without a full understanding of the circumstances.  If translation is required, bilingual officers are usually available.  If a bilingual officer is not available, an officer can call a translation service and have a bilingual person help conduct an interview over the phone.  Further, in any situation where taking children into protective custody is being considered, Child Protective Services is called into the case, provides its input and usually handles the transportation.  Placement with responsible relatives is almost always the first option.

    Bilingual officers are a great idea, and San Jose has hundreds (as a side note, bilingual officers receive a whopping $10 or so per week extra for their skills).  What is completely erroneous is the idea that discrimination is occurring because a lack of bilingual officers. This is another example of Cordell trying to justify her professional existence.

    • “The conveyor belt to prison begins early in life for some children who are removed from difficult or unsafe family situations and placed into the child welfare system,” the memo says. “Sometimes there are better alternatives available, such as placement with relatives. Such alternatives can be missed when language barriers prevent officers from being aware of an alternative. These barriers may also be a contributing factor to the disproportionate number of Latino and African-American youth entering the child welfare system.”

      Yes, and how does the language barrier contribute to a disproportionate number of African-American children entering the child welfare system?  If they want to look for common causes, one would think that a language barrier isn’t going to be one of them.

      • That’s a fair point and one well worth raising. However, given LaDoris’s blatant prejudices and membership in organizations which traditionally – I daresay reflexively – take an anti-police position (NAACP and ACLU), and which just as reflexively rationalize and cover up for the bad (criminal, anti-social, anti-family)behavior which statistically occurs in vast disproportion to population representation within the African-American community; I wouldn’t expect a reasonable, logical or responsible answer to that question.

        My dad – never one to mince words and always one to call it as he sees it – would describe LaDoris’s summary recommendations as ‘chickensh**’, and he’d be right. But then, in a city with one of the most professional police forces in the nation, regardless of staffing levels, that’s about what you’d expect from a petty, prejudiced, overpaid, generally useless, mid-level government functionary that’s about what you’d expect. Clearly she’s desperate to rationalize the exorbitant raise she got along with an increase to her department budget.

  2. WHAT A FRICKING JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is what we pay millions of dollars to the IPA’s office for? Oh, and ‘curb sitting’ is to reduce the chances of being killed or injured…..it has NOTHING to do with wanting to humiliate anybody. Jesus Christ. Every police department in the United States does the same thing….God what a joke

  3. “Officers should get parental permission before driving a kid who’s not a suspect in a patrol car. “

    Senario:  A sixteen year old girl is in tears on the corner of Santa Clara Street because she is in town to see her friends compete in a volleyball tournament.  It is getting late.  She can’t remember where she parked her car and her parents aren’t answering the phone.  The officer sees that she is not okay. Oh no, the officer remembers a new policy just came out that says she can’t drive this young lady around looking for her car.
     
    Senario:  A fifteen year old lost track of his friends after a house party just ended.  He lost his phone a few weeks ago.  The fifteen year old can’t get a hold of his parents (even after borrowing the officers phone). Oh no, the officer remembers a new policy just came out that says he can’t drive this fifteen year old home.
     
    Bad policy, Bad outcomes.  Just because one person complained.  Is this the best she can come up with?  What does she get paid a year?  Really? 

  4. LaDoris Cordell is an over paid ,know nothing of Police work ,Petty , Reed Stooge.She is as worthless as they come , only trying to justify her idiotic position. people want to complain about P.D.  ……….all the way up until they need them. it is a job that most people do not want to do or cant do . this once proud dept has been decimated and the exodus will continue , so what ever these officers have to do to secure their safety , they should do. regardless of what the great and powerful LaDoris says

  5. I suggest the citizens of San Jose open the report and read the “Audit Summaries” starting on page 40.
     
    Also:
    1.55% of the complaints were sustained.  Of those sustained complaints only .221% were other than procedural. (page 22) 

    24% of the complaints came from District 3.  This is Liccardo’s district which contains the “Downtown”.  (page 16)

    23% of the complaints came from “Unknown/Outside City Limits” (page 16)

    How many Police/Citizen contacts per year?

  6. LaDoris Cordell is a cancer eating away at the body and soul of the San Jose Police Department. Introduced as a relatively harmless “monitor” of the department’s internal affairs investigations, she has insidiously mutated and metastasized into an invasive, systemic infection from which no healthy component is safe. Her annual report, which should confine itself to the performance of those investigating misconduct, doesn’t; it instead reads as if she’s confused her hardly important position for that of an all-powerful Police Czar.

    To those who actually know something about how to police a city such as ours, Ms. Cordell’s bean-counting approach and black and white analysis of citizen complaints is laughable. Complaint totals measure nothing, as they are far too subjective to treat quantitatively. One single legitimate and disturbing complaint can trump a hundred nuisance types. Nonetheless, Ms. Cordell hungers for bigger numbers and more news coverage, lest the public begin to question the legitimacy of her office (which has yet to discover the internal investigation lapses for which it was created). And don’t for a minute buy into her “outreach” cover story, that our residents—even the dumbest of whom have conquered the formidable public benefits bureaucracy—being somehow helpless when it comes to pitching a bitch about the cops. That campaign is really about encouraging dissatisfaction and demands, about generating the false, frivolous, procedural-picking, petty complaints that open the door for her race-obsessed analysis and Looney Tunes-quality speculation.

    The irony is that over the decades this city has endured several complaint-generating campaigns organized by radical elements with the intent to discredit the police department and undermine its effectiveness. The goal was always the same: find a way to blame “minority” arrest rates on police bias. The city has spent millions defending itself against numerous alarming, but ultimately discredited, charges against its officers. To this day the radical’s goal remains the same—vilify the cops, but thanks to the council morons who hired Ms. Cordell, we taxpayers are footing the bill for their latest effort. 

    LaDoris Cordell will, in her time fleecing the taxpayers, do absolutely nothing to help any of this city’s hardworking and decent residents. Instead, all she will accomplish is the perpetuation of the fraudulent, race-obsessed, decades old blame-game that has left entire neighborhoods cowering in fear of gang warfare, filled our prisons with career criminals posing as victims of a “racist legal system,” and saddled entire cities (like Oakland) with problems that may be as insurmountable as they are tragic.

    But she’s set her focus on the trauma of curb-sitting… dedicated to solving this city’s great problems two cheeks at a time.

  7. It appears to me that Ms Cordell is grasping at straws to make it look like she is earning her HUGE salary, which is totally out of proportion for the work that she does. Curb sitting has nothing to do with minority issues. It is about safety of the officers and others and putting the suspect at a disadvantage while the officers conduct their interview and criminal checks. Suspects can’t get up and run too fast or hurt someone when they are in a sitting position. You can very well see that this STUPID new policy has come from someone who is not in the know about police fieldwork and that is pretty sad being that she is in the position she is in. They need a person in that position who knows what it is like to police the streets. Then maybe there wouldn’t be so many STUPID policies coming out of this office.

  8. Less Cops = Less contacts = Less Complaints…….And the police EXODUS continues…….Why isn’t the city doing anything about it????

  9. Why are so many of you under the impression that cops are in the habit of giving kids friendly rides to their homes..this is San Jose not Mayberry. Stop whistling that damn song in your head and wake up! Its an intimdation method not a taxi ride home. Some of you may be book smart but you are not street smart.

  10. Solution #1.  No more rides for juveniles, period.  Sorry kid, the IPA says I have to get in contact with your parents before I can give you a ride.  I may carry a gun, a taser, baton and handcuffs and have a badge for the city of San Jose Police Department, but I am not trust worthy enough.  I still have to put out my location and mileage, but “1 parent” complained so we had to change OUR WHOLE POLICY.  Go inside that Walgreens and call your parents.  We have 4 officer’s in this district and i have 5 calls pending.  My once 10 minute ordeal, now takes 30-45 minutes.  No more free rides.  Problem solved. 

    The IPA’s lack of intelligence is pretty clear when she states that, “Sometimes there are better alternatives available, such as placement with relatives. Such alternatives can be missed when language barriers prevent officers from being aware of an alternative. These barriers may also be a contributing factor to the disproportionate number of Latino and African-American youth entering the child welfare system.”  What a stupid comment.  Police department policy requires CPS response on all juveniles situations of alleged abuse or other type of crime involving a parent.  The Police and CPS work “together” in finding a safe place for the juvenile if he/she is removed form the parent. The IPA is coming up with anything to somehow justify her position.  There is no language barrier problem.

    Curb sitting?  That was a term the IPA created.  It’s a practice done all across the country and it is done for officer safety reasons.  Problem was, Moore was puppet and had no backbone at all when it came to standing up to the IPA.  The IPA was the one who swore in Moore.  Truth be told, the memo from Moore in regards to curb sitting was put out “ON HIS LAST DAY.”  It was never implemented.  Like the spineless snake he was, he went slithering out the door and left the mess behind him.  All he boasted about in the end was not retaining officer’s, but rather getting officer’s video cameras and curb sitting.  The 2 major topics the IPA wanted implemented before he left.