A New Model of Police Oversight

A Historic Window of Opportunity is Open to Improve Police and Community Relations in San Jose

The November 18, 2008 public hearing regarding the suspiciously high and racially disproportionate drunk in public arrest rate was revealing, heart-breaking and inspiring. Anytime City Hall becomes converted into a place for everyday people to bear witness, to pull out their crumpled hand written notes that described stories that were before only shared over kitchen tables, to give testimonials that show how distant policy can be cut through by the deeply personal, San Jose becomes a more considered and inclusive place.

But above and beyond all of this, the evening was a signal—an indication that San Jose has arrived at a historic moment that carries both the urgent need to reform our mechanisms for police oversight and the necessary public will to enact this change.

The hundreds that came to City Hall to discuss the staggering numbers revealed through the Mercury News investigation - 4,667 arrests in 2007 (significantly more than any other California city) with 57 percent of those arrests being Latino (significantly disproportional to their general population)—was indeed a call to action for the city leadership.  And while important, immediate strategies were proposed to address the misuse of drunk in public charges—sobering stations, mandatory chemical tests, alternatives to prosecution—the deeper issue, the one that could bring us out of the circular conversations of community accusations of police excesses, and department defenses of its practices, was not discussed.

The problem with the drunk in public arrest rates are not inherent to the charge, but rather speaks to San Jose’s lack of sufficient law enforcement oversight, thus leaving the city susceptible to police misconduct without any independent mechanism for accountability. While public hearings help inform the discussion, we are often left with piecemeal strategies that may momentarily satisfy the public’s demands, yet fail to move us forward to a healthier relationship between police and community.

As San Jose attempts to develop solution-based policies to respond to the drunk in public numbers, we once again face the danger of confusing the symptom for the illness.

Racially Disproportionate Arrests Found in Other Charges

For those who argue that our current battle over police accountability is about the application of a specific charge (647(f)) rather than merely the tip of the iceberg that pokes above dark waters, think again. In response to a public records request lodged two weeks ago by Silicon Valley De-Bug, the California Department of Justice released information that once again showed an over-representation of Latinos charged with 148’s (resisting and obstructing arrest). Of the 441 arrests in 2007, more than 54 percent were Latinos. In the period of January to June of 2008, Latinos accounted for 58 percent of the arrest—almost double the percentage of the general population—and Blacks represented 17.7 percent—nearly nine times their numbers in the general population. Indeed, racially disproportionate arrests are not only isolated to drunk in public charges, and may be more the “norm” than the exception.

Like the drunk in public arrests, 148 charges also allow for tremendous evidentiary discretion to the arresting officer, leaving the same vulnerability of misuse. Excessive charging on 148’s are particularly worrisome because they can be used on civilians who are trying to exercise their legally protected right of monitoring the police. In this era, that more likely means a concerned good Samaritan with a cell-phone camera trying to do their civic duty, rather than an activist doing a “cop watch.”

As a city trying to improve the relationship between the police department and the public, we need mechanisms that increase trust and confidence by the public and provide a space for concerns to be aired and addressed.  There is a vested interest here for the police as well, as unfounded claims against their practice could not generate the momentum they can in the absence of an oversight system. If San Jose had such a law enforcement oversight model that was effective, trusted and resourced, we would not have to repeatedly find ourselves in these crisis moments.

Where there is smoke, there is fire, and when it comes to police issues, San Jose uses Febreze, when we should use a fire extinguisher. Our history of civic conversations around police issues has made this dynamic painfully clear.
San Jose’s History of Police Issues Shows Need of New Model

In the early 1990s, in a climate of mistrust in police agencies, San Jose civilians pushed for a civilian review board. After negotiations, the Independent Police Auditor (IPA) was formed to work in conjunction with the San Jose Police Department Internal Affairs (IA). At the time, an IPA was an innovative model, an experiment at the birth of the civilian oversight movement that was occurring across the country. While this model relied heavily upon Internal Affairs, in fact relinquishing all investigatory power to IA, the added value was the auditing feature of the IPA, and ability to provide policy recommendations to City Council. Presumably, this model was intended to be the solution to the problem of community issues with the police department. Over time, the inability of the office to be that device became apparent.

By 2005, allegations of racial profiling and abuse by the San Jose Police Department became so prevalent that civil rights organizations such as the NAACP, the ACLU, and the ALA pushed for a Civil Grand Jury investigation. The fact that such a problem between the police and the public (in particular Black and Latino communities) could elevate to such an alarming level is, in itself, an admission of the inadequacies of the IPA model. The grand jury found that there were, “legitimate concerns regarding individual police excesses.” Also acknowledging that all investigation of complaints was done by IA, the Grand Jury recommended that “the IPA’s role and responsibilities should be expanded.” In another finding, they also urged the city to explore if a civilian review board would be an appropriate response to solve the racial profiling problem. No lasting action was taken by the city leadership.

In 2007, Barbara Attard, the current IPA, proposed several policy recommendations to expand the offices powers that were consistent with the recommendations of the 2005 Grand Jury report.

The city manager responded by saying that such changes would mean a “fundamental paradigm shift in the City’s current oversight model.” The council followed suit by not only denying Attard’s recommendations, but actually gutting the office even more in terms of resources and powers. The lesson there was a pre-cursor to an eventual removal of Attard in October of this year. San Jose City Council sent a message to the public through their decision to remove an IPA that was asking for improvements in the office, “Don’t ask for more than what you have, ‘cause if you do, we’ll take what you’ve already got.” Consequently, San Jose actually has less oversight now than it did just a few years ago.

But the message was not directed to Attard—she was merely responding to the mounting calls by the public to increase police oversight. The steady rise in the number of complaints—from 329 in 2003 to 547 in 2007—mandated policy improvements for police oversight.

Our current problem with drunk in public arrests is probably the clearest example of why the IPA model is an inadequate strategy to address the problem of police excesses. This is because the issue has already gone through the IPA problem-solving theory, and it still exists. In a 1994 report, the previous Independent Police Auditor, Teresa Guerrero-Daley, was also confronted with a number of complaints regarding unwarranted drunk in public arrests, what she called “attitude arrests.” Her policy recommendation regarding this issue was to, “Provide chemical testing for drunk in public cases to verify if the person was in fact intoxicated.” The proposal was not adopted by the City Council. On November 18, 2008 San Jose heard the same policy recommendation for the same problem that was already flagged fourteen years ago.

Why is Innovative San Jose Using an Old Technology?

So this is the awkward moment in history San Jose finds itself in. As the rest of the country is making historic strides forward in racial equality, San Jose, a minority-majority city, is retreating backwards, literally finding ourselves burdened with same problems we had in the previous millennium. And what is even more surprising is that our city, which prides itself on its innovative and cutting-edge technology,  relies upon an outdated and proven-lacking technology in terms of law enforcement oversight. Cities across the country have adopted newer oversight models to address the needs of their changing landscapes since 1993. Along with independent civilian review boards, there are independent police auditors that are equipped with investigators and subpoena powers, hybrids of IPA’s with civilian review, even special counsel to county Boards of Supervisors to ensure independent investigation. In comparison to what’s out there, San Jose’s Independent Police Auditor model likens us to using a pager in an age of cell phones. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time when there was no other option available, but now seems tired and out-of-step.

But we are also in a moment of tremendous opportunity for change. With the council decision not to re-instate Barbara Attard as the Independent Police Auditor, the new task force on the drunk in public arrests issue, as well as the possibility of sunshine laws to be supported by the council, San Jose is in arguably the best position it has ever been in to enact improvements that will have a real impact on police and community issues.

And while efforts will be made to get sunshine laws to pry open a police department that has been reluctant to disclose information, perhaps even more significantly, San Jose can take a breath of reflection and planning, before rushing into simply filling the new Independent Police Auditor position, locking us into more of the same—an office that is ill-equipped to be what it is asked to be.

Instead of hiring a new IPA to propagate our current shortcomings, let’s look into other options. If San Jose’s history has taught us anything, it is that if we really want to get to a better place in terms of police oversight. It is not a question of who is driving the vehicle, rather it is the vehicle itself that needs changing. Couple the end of the current IPA’s contract with all of the public scrutiny on police issues on full display at the November 18th public hearing, we have been given the rare opportunity to re-imagine police oversight in San Jose.

But this window, in all likelihood, will not stay open for long. Energies dissipate over time and new emergencies eclipse our priorities. Let’s hope that we take full advantage of this moment to assess what our real current needs are for police oversight in San Jose, and that we have the political vision and leadership to bring on a new model that speaks to those concerns.

36 Comments

  1. Hey Raj:

    You tell us: “San Jose City Council sent a message to the public through their decision to remove an IPA…”

    And go on to even add a quote, supposedly from the council:

    “Don’t ask for more than what you have, ‘cause if you do, we’ll take what you’ve already got.”

    So tell us, Raj, which Councilmember gave you the quote. Or did you make that up too?

  2. Raj, quite the essay.  I respect your right to your opinion but have very little respect for your opinion.  Your hatred for the police is blinding.  You clearly don’t hide the fact that this rant is merely a campaign to gain a larger foothold and control of the police department.  Your views might be “pass the time” reading (in the Metro) as one waits for the bus or train, or perhaps it even might be a great sound byte (bite) on KPIX, however, on this blog… it just illustrates your bias opinion.  It is a mere demonstration why we cannot let the ideologies of the few compromise the safety of the many.  The many I speak of have already voted their representatives into office and have entrusted them in such duties that you request of a “new model”.

    ABOUT THE ARTICLE…Raj, you continue to talk about arrests that are “significantly disproportional to the general population”.  Again, I will tell you that the US Consensus figures are wrong.  Even you began to demonstrate this by pointing out that 148PC arrests comprised of 54 percent Latinos and 57 percent of the 647(f) PC arrests were Latinos.  I see a pattern.  Raj, your right, I think, as you say in your article, it is the “norm rather then the exception”.  It is normal to see these figures in such a highly Latino based community. What are the percentages for Latinos being arrested for 273.5PC, 20002CVC, and 245PC to name a few?  Oh I know, of course, it is the police.  Ok, let me ask you this then. What are the percentages of victims to these crimes (excluding the 647f and 148 of course)?  Is it possible for the police to racially profile victims?  Do we have a high percentage of Latino victims? 

    You mention the steady rise in the number of complaints.  Sure they are going to rise when the population rises, the number of calls for service rises and when you have people coaching criminals on how to go about complaining.  How many complaints were sustained?  Of course, the police cover up again.

    About the drunkenness in this city.  San Jose has always had the reputation for bars and clubs.  We also have had a reputation for having a police department that does not tolerate crimes in our city.  If you want to change the 647(f) California Penal Code to reflex that a BAC is mandatory for an arrest then go to Sacramento.  In the meantime, please leave Chief Davis alone; his stomach is starting to hurt from rolling over too many times this month.

    Finally, you state, “It is not a question of who is driving the vehicle, rather it is the vehicle itself that needs changing”.  I say, let’s not reinvent the tire.  Let’s kick out the back seat driver and get on driving to a better tomorrow.

    For the police officers that are in the car, buckle up it is getting bumpy.  Be safe.

  3. Hey MC, try picking up a basic grammar book. Look up something called a paraphrase. You might learn something.

    To JJ, seems like you have your own axe to grind to top off the bad spelling. This article lays out a clear arguement about problems with the police department and longstanding inaction by SJPD. Too bad your bias and ideology of supporting the police get in the way of seeing.

    The ignorance amd immaturity of the above posters leaves me wondering wondering about San Jose, or at least the small minority who writes snide comments in blogs all day. Hopefully the City Council are a marked improvement over these thinkers, otherwise we’ll all see each other in San Jose’s local upcoming version of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

    Would tear gas smoke from Santa Clara Street reach the seveth floor of city hall? We might be able to find out.

  4. “thus leaving the city susceptible to police misconduct without any independent mechanism for accountability.”

    Here Raj resorts to telling a lie. Police misconduct has always been accountable to the courts, both criminal and civil. The DA’s office has, in the past, charged and convicted police officers of brutality as well as other crimes associated with on-the-job misconduct. In addition, in the allegedly race-based misconduct to which Raj refers, the United States Department of Justice has on numerous occasions served our community as an “independent mechanism for accountability.”

    But Raj isn’t interested in the fair and impartial oversight already available, what he wants is oversight powered by resentment and political animosity. What he wants is oversight that will play as fast and loose with the truth as he does. What he wants is for us to govern our police department by anecdote, and thus render the fate of our officers to the perceptions, beliefs, and bias of every screwball walking the streets; in other words, to the same spectral evidence that convicted the witches of Salem.

    ————————————-

    “Indeed, racially disproportionate arrests are not only isolated to drunk in public charges, and may be more the “norm” than the exception.”

    Racial disproportion exists in many things, most of which are of no interest to Raj and his cop-hating comrades. Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately described and identified as perpetrators of violent crime by victims (can’t blame the cops for that), found responsible for serious crime in disproportionate numbers by juries (of their peers), disproportionately involved in gang violence (typically victimizing their own), and disproportionately represented in dropout rates (according to “School or the Streets: Crime and America’s Dropout Crisis”—a report from the organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids*, dropouts are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested that high school graduates and eight times as likely to be incarcerated).

    Since Hispanics dropout of school at about three times the rate of non-Hispanic whites, the evidence suggests that the mystery surrounding SJ’s drunk-in-public disparity lies outside the police department.

    * http://www.fightcrime.org/

    ————————————-

    “By 2005, allegations of racial profiling and abuse by the San Jose Police Department became so prevalent that civil rights organizations such as the NAACP, the ACLU, and the ALA pushed for a Civil Grand Jury investigation.”

    If the allegations of profiling were so prevalent why hasn’t a successful case been made by any of these alleged victims? After all, how hard is it for a minority, after being stopped for no reason other than his skin color, to go forward with a complaint or lawsuit? If I were stopped for no legitimate reason I’d have no problem at all standing up for my civil rights. Stops are precisely recorded by police departments: who, what, when, where, and why. Any cop stupid enough to make a random, unjustified stop is a cop ripe for roasting. Are we expected to believe that victimized minorities can’t put together a factual case? Bullshit! Minorities sue police departments every day—there are even local lawyers who specialize in doing it.

    What we have here is a UFOologist’s argument: Raj can’t prove profiling exists, but he nonetheless wants you to take drastic measures to combat it. Buy into his bullshit and SJPD will go dormant. Pretty soon a patrolling cop car in your neighborhood will be as rare as a flying saucer.

    ————————————-

    One last thing: does anyone out there know how to print a document on two-ply tissue? There’s got to be some way to put Raj’s column to good use.

  5. Raj –

    Usually when someone has such a strong bias against an individual or group, like you do against the Police Department, it stems from a bad personal experience.  What was your experience?

    Second, who is paying you to write all these stories, to attend all the meetings you do, and to go after the Police like you do? You are clearly well paid, because your entire focus is on discrediting the San Jose Police Department.

  6. I’ve lived in San Jose my whole life and have personally experienced the out of control and heavy handed conduct of the police in the downtown and other areas of the city. It’s mostly directed towards people of color, but even white folks like myself are affected as well.

    Not only is this an injustice (and a racially charged injustice), but many people I know avoid or limit frequenting restaurants and clubs in the downtown. Many go to nearby cities where they don’t have to put up with the harassment and intimidation. The city would be wise to expand police oversight. Further, Mayor Reed ran on a platform of government transparency. He should uphold his promise and like other major cities apply sunshine laws to the police department. If the reality is as the police chief says, then SJPD should have nothing to hide.

    As far as the above posters are concerned, I don’t think you all in any way represent the San Jose I know. I think you are very scared and out of touch individuals. Consider moving to Alaska- the weather and political climate are more up your alley.

  7. Raj,

    Your article is such a bunch of bullshit. You do not represent or speak for the hundreds of thousands of San Jose residents who think our officers are doing a great job upholding the law. You represent a small bunch of rebels without a cause who cause city administrators to run for cover lest they be labeled politically incorrect. Somebody with the ball in charge needs to tell your island of misfits to pound salt.

  8. Hey Adam W,

    People who live in glass houses should not throw rocks! 

    Before you criticize MC’s grammar skills or writing capabilities, maybe you should learn how to properly spell.

    Your condescending remarks are typical of a liberal elite who thinks they know it all, but in reality know very little about which they speak. Just like Raj, you are either wrong or will lie to justify your position as long as it furthers your cause.

    Wake up and stop drinking the kool aid!

  9. Raj:

    Wow, you truly went to great lengths this time to demonstrate your disdain and outright hatred for police. As one reader stated quite well, your hatred is blinding. Just admit that in your first sentence and your articles would make easier reading.

    Adam, you are such a pansy. Whah, the police are meanies and I have seen it too! Ya,…and ALL police officers are mean and don’t kiss your @$$? Too bad. Try to be a man and move on. The police will ALWAYS be tough when they need to be and sissy-boys like you will always whine about it. It you cannot handle downtown move out.

  10. Raj, the Mayor and Council did not renew Attard’s contract because she was collaborating with anti Police groups like yours to expand her powers, rather than doing her job. Attard was paid well over 100K a year. Her self appointed staff were well paid too. The message the Mayor and Council are sending by not renewing her contract is not that you’ll lose your job if you ask for more power, the message they are sending is that if you don’t do the job you are paid and hired to do, and if you continually ignore their directives, you’ll be let go of.  Why you think that Attard is exempt from following her employer’s directives, like the rest of us are, I don’t know.

    Secondly, your stats are skewed and are misleading. In the past three years, there has not only been a huge migration of African Americans from California to the South, but there has also been a huge immigration of both illegal and legal Hispanics into California. Your claim of 17% of African Americans being arrested is very misleading as 17% of the African American race, in San Jose is not that much. When you consider that African Americans only make up 2 and a half percent of Californians, 17% is a spit in the wind! Also, for you to claim that Latino arrests are disproportionate and unfair, compared to other races in San Jose is just ludicrous!  Given the fact that Latinos make up a much higher percentage of San Jose residents than other race, and that Latinos frequent DT more than any other race, it is clear that if more Latino’s hang out down there creating problems, then they are going to be arrested for it. You already know that though because you are down there tapping the Police on the weekend. Why don’t you be more honest about this issue? Or join the Police Department yourself if you think they are doing such a rotten job.

    Just in case all of you don’t know this, Raj is being well paid to write this stuff. He is entitled to his opinion, however bias it may be, and he is certainly entitled to be well paid for his anti Police views. But you have choice to read it or not, and I for one would rather read more credible sources, so these will be my last comments on Raj’s columns having to do with this topic.

  11. #7: Hey Adam –

    Better check that grammar book yourself. Any 4th grader will tell you a paraphrase does not appear within quotation marks. 

    Raj did not paraphrase the City Council. He flat-out fabricated, and attributed to elected leaders, a quote that was never uttered by anyone other than Raj. The fact that he did so in an effort to make a larger point does not excuse the obvious failure to observe basic journalistic standards. (We could debate if blogging equals journalism, but let’s not go down that blind alley.)

    To put it another way Adam, would you find it acceptable if the Merc invented an inflammatory quote and attributed it to you?

  12. Public organizations are ultimately accountable to the public and any effort to hide their funding and policies from the public is corruption and any attempt to silence public criticism of government is totalitarian.

    I find it odd that the wealthy homeowner types who feel entitled to speak for the entire community react so viciously to Raj’s criticism of a publicly (read taxpayer) funded organization being scrutinized.

    I think the reason that there are no young people and few people of color who read or respond to this column is that there is such condemnation for those who criticize the way the police and the economy work against those who are not white or rich. By denying that racism is part of life in San Jose denouncing criticism of police behavior as “communist” “bullshit” or makes one a “pansy” or “sissy-boy”, the commenters on these articles proclaim loudly that they don’t want to hear from those who are concerned with racism or who advocate for full police accountability to the public.

    That essentially cements sanjoseinside as simply an echo chamber for conservatives or those whose empathy extends only to homeowners, rightwing politicians, cops, and the occasional animal (as long as it isn’t human young, poor, and brown).

    I want to thank Mr. Van Zandt and others for including opposing views like Raj since otherwise I would be unable to continue visiting this site’s otherwise antiseptic sterile pro business and pro cop pages.

  13. #14- Downtownster,
    I work daily with organizations to help reduce racism and prejudice. I don’t have a problem with anyone questioning Police practices. What I have a problem with is Raj’s version of what is really happening in San Jose and in DT. If he is going to write something criticizing the Police or any other public safety entity, he needs to present the information in a factual way, not from a bias point of view, if indeed he wants to be seen as credible.

    Many of Raj’s columns either distort or leave out crucial information on the topic he is writing about. That is why bloggers on SJI have found what he writes to be so bias, and questionable; it is not because they are white or wealthy as you claim.  And by the way, your assertion about the race or financial status of SJI bloggers could be mistaken for the very bigotry you are complaining about in your post.

  14. #15 – Kathleen,

    I agree about the ideal of journalistic integrity, and I think that the better cited an article is, the more credible it is.

    In my readings of SJI, I have seen The Fly cite sources since it is part of a weekly newspaper, but none of the other contributors do it consistently. The majority of articles on SJI are opinion pieces varying from whimsy (rants and raves, somali pirates captured on guadalupe river, etc.) to perspective pieces which do not generally include citations unless bringing in extended quotations (Jack’s Thanksgiving piece).

    SJI culture more often consists of long strings of off-the-cuff remarks, relevant anecdotes, and then for a commentator to bring in a longish quote (more than 2 lines) for context or to refute an article and then provide a citation.

    What I have seen is that whenever someone writes something that the right leaning reader/commentators disagree with, they are excoriated for not citing sources or fact checking properly, generally by you, or are called names.

    The standards of journalistic integrity that you want to hold Raj to, while letting Jack VanZandt, Tom McEnery, and others speak freely look like a classic double standard to me.

    So, Kathleen, if you will indulge me:

    1) Please cite one instance when you have demanded citations of finfan, steve, mc, john galt or any other pro-police, pro-business commentator for being too pro-police or too pro-business.

    2) Please hold Raj to the same standards as the other contributors to SJI for consistency’s sake. That way, we can be sure that you are dismissing Raj for what he says (that more police accountability is needed and that racial profiling by police does occur in San Jose and that it is wrong), and not for being a young man of color and not for the way he says it.

    Does anyone else think this is a fair assessment of Kathleen’s loud and oft-repeated objections to Raj’s journalistic style? Do others see him as using a substantively different style than the other writers at SJI, or is it just the content of what he is saying?

  15. Has Raj ever actually held a valid job to witness first hand these things he claims to have seen, or is he really just a clueless “community organizer” making his money writing police hit pieces catering to rebels without a cause, which pays better than writing legitimate and objective articles.

    Lets get rid of the Cinco de Mayo drunk fest which each year brings in hundreds of thousands of drunk hispanics and those drunk arrest numbers would suddenly dive.

  16. #16- Downtownster,
    First let me say that I make no apology for supporting the brave men and women of the SJPD. They put their lives on the line for each and every one of us everyday and they don’t expect anything in return from us other than for us to adhere to the laws on the books.

    Secondly, I agree that any Police Officer caught abusing his or her authority by racially profiling or unnecessarily harming a citizen should be punished to the full extent of the law, and thrown off the Police force. That kind of behavior is unacceptable and reflects badly on any Officer who takes their vow to serve and protect as seriously as the Officers I know do.

    Third, You are very wrong about me holding a double standard. I’ve nailed other columnists, and posters on SJI for saying something I disagree with. I guess you’ve missed the many battles. Lucky you! wink Please go back and read the past year’s blogs and you’ll see that for yourself.

    Forth, to say that I am holding Raj to a higher standard because of his age and race is just plain insulting. I work with youth of color, I have worked with youth offenders and their victims, and I sit on and have sat on a several boards, committees, and commissions that have to do with race issues, youth issues, and public safety a lot longer than Raj has been breathing.

    When I see Raj distorting the truth, putting skewed stats, and giving out misinformation on such vital issues, you bet I’m going to refute his statements!
    One example of this, besides his present column, was a column he wrote about a young man who was facing life for driving a group of young men to an alleged abusive man’s home, to supposedly get a young woman’s belongings. Because several of these young men were known gang members, and the young man he was writing about was identified as one too, the DA added a gang enhancement charge to his crime. One of the many important details Raj conveniently left out was the fact that one of the young men he was helping was arrested for killing an innocent 15-year-old child during a gang altercation. He also distorted Pattie Cortese’s involvement in the issue. Raj has consitstantly shown that his versions of things are not truthful or credible. And that Downtownster is what I base my opinion on, not his age or color.

    Finally let me say this, have you ever walked a mile in a Police Officer’s shoes, or gone on a Police ride-a- long? Have you ever seen a DT small business owner or property owner’s outrage when these drunken idiots have damaged their property? Have you ever had a sister, girl friend, or friend verbally or physically assaulted by one of these drunken sots in downtown? Well I have, and I can tell you that until you have, you are just some unknown blogger sitting in judgment of a situation, and people you know nothing about.

  17. The Building owner Down Town is responsible for the Ants in the kitchen. What do externimators cops have to do with that.
      Clean Your house, Owner!
      The exorcists and Cops will follow the Ants.
      The End.
                    D.O.A.

  18. Aw come on folks. Isn’t SJI SUPPOSED to be a community water cooler where folks can discuss local issues from various perspectives?

    Like other SJI participants I disagree with much of what Raj says, but we’re having a jolly old time poking holes in pretty much every point he makes. It’s more San Jose fun than ice skating under freakin’ palm trees!

    Seriously, this kind of back-and-forth on a community issue provides a healthy exploration of ideas just so long as it remains respectful. While Raj may, or may not, be full of BS, his posts have prompted conversations here that has brought out an interesting range of fact and opinion on a local issue. Score one for Raj, like it or not. 

    We learn some of our most valuable lessons from our critics. Raj may find these criticisms constructive if he has an open mind and willingness to consider other opinions. I find it interesting that he does not chime back in when people question his facts, suggest bias, etc.  I wonder why that is? (That is a serious, not rhetorical, question.)

    From reading Raj’s posts he seems like an articulate and idealistic young man who could mature into a good journalist or community leader. He certainly has the passion. To that end he would do well to arm himself with knowledge, learn the difference between fact and opinion, develop objectivity and get hooked up with a good editor who will slap him silly when he manufactures quotes, presents fuzzy facts or commits other egregious journalistic sins.

    Until then he has us. -;)

  19. #16 – Downtownster: 

    First of all, if your friend Raj didn’t want his stats or arguments questioned, then he should not have put them up in his blog for public scrutiny. 

    Second, I can say honestly, that Kathleen will question anyone she thinks is not being fair or truthful in his or her assessment of a given situation.  She has done so with most of the regular posters on this blog. 

    I have known Kathleen for over 6 years, and I can say that your “assessment of Kathleen’s loud and oft-repeated objections to Raj’s journalistic style” could not be farther from the truth.  You do not know Kathleen enough to make the statements that you do; if you did, you would not have made them.  For you to insinuate that Kathleen is, in any way, disagreeing with Raj because he is, “a young many of color” as you put it, is insulting, and discriminatory on your part.  Kathleen has put in more years fighting discrimination, helping people of ALL races in their struggles, and fighting for justice than you have in your lifetime. 

    To answer your question, it is, in truth, the content of Raj’s posts.  If he would look at all sides of the issue, and present a balanced view, instead of just arguing that his side is right, then his posts might hold more validity.  But by arguing that his viewpoint is the only valid one, he looses credibility. 

    Finally, you sound very idealistic, like I did in College.  You need to pepper that with a dose of realism.  What exactly have you done in our community to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem?

  20. #21- MC- Good post, I agree.

    Downtownster,

    “If the children are untaught, their ignorance and vices will in future life cost us much dearer in their consequences than it would have done in their correction by a good education.”

    Thomas Jefferson

  21. A great quote by an ex president regarding critics such as Raj who blow smoke with no practical experience because the have an ax to grind.

    ““It is NOT the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
    —Theodore Roosevelt

  22. I agree with the original point of the article that the police need a better oversight model here in San Jose. There is no transparency in the SJPD until people in our community ask for it.  If the rest of the folks want to go on believing SJPD’s finest are doing their job, then that’s great.  Prove it with a transparent accountability system that we deserve. 

    To those who think the police are actually held accountable by the courts, the city council, or by the DA, then think again.  What world do you live in?  Now you prove when that’s happened and stop bashing Raj for just speaking the truth that the MAJORITY of us here in San Jose really feel and experience.

  23. #21- MC,
    In fairness, I’m not sure if Raj has any say over whether or not his column is published on SJI. As you know, much to many of our disappointment, the Metro has merged with SJI, and that is how Raj’s column ended up here. The Metro’s blog was a complete failure, so we are now getting columns that were on the Metro blog. Raj may not have a choice but to allow them to publish his columns anywhere they want to. That may account for why he doesn’t respond to questions. 

    Santa Maria,
    Is that really your name? My hope is that the City finds the funds to provide the Police with cameras in their cars. That is the BEST Police and citizen oversight model I can think of. Once the actions of these drunken sots are caught on video, I’m sure things will be different. Seeing is believing! 
    Raj can speak his truth, but we live in a country that thankfully allows us to speak ours too. You want equality for all right, well you’ve got it.

  24. #24- Santa Maria- See Steve’s post in number 19. It might help you see the other side.  If you hate the way our very diverse Police Department acts, join the SJPD. If you think you can do a better job than they do, hey have at it. Then come back and ask us what world we live in.

    #25-B. Young,
    I was at the Council meeting too, and I saw Raj speak. He was as one sided in there as he is here. You can’t expect us to believe that everyone that is arrested is innocent can you? You can’t expect us to believe every Cop is bad can you?

  25. #27 Christian

    No one has said that every person arrested is innocent or that every cop is bad. What Raj and many others are trying to get across in this conversation is that some people who are arrested are not guilty of a crime, that the number of arrests of people of color are disproportionate, and that that is a problem.

    Public oversight for the SJPD (outside internal affairs or whoever the new IPA is) is a possible part of ending the inappropriate behavior of some cops and the racially disproportionate arrest pattern of the department overall, in spite of the diversity of the department’s officers and the merits of many individual cops.

    We need for the community to have the power to challenge inappropriate police behavior as described at the hearing at City Hall and the Community Complaint forums sponsored by the Independent Police Auditor’s office last year.

    It is fascinating how the pro-cop pro-business folks keep trying to shift the discussion of the problem in the relationship between the SJPD and the community from being about inappropriate police behavior to the behavior of the public itself. Surely they are not calling the public at the City Hall meetings and the IPA public forums liars or that the abuse they suffer is acceptable collateral damage.

    What would be so bad about a civilian review board? It would start to address what the public is concerned with.

  26. First of all RAJ!!, if you’re going to quote statistics, get it right. If you honestly believe that San Jose has more public intoxication arrests than cities like Los Angeles and San Diego, than you’re as ignorant as you look. Los Angeles had more than 20,000 public intoxication arrests in 2007. They have their own municipal code for public intoxication and they don’t use 647(f)PC. For you to say that San Jose’s public intoxication arrests are “significantly more than any other California city” is just plain false and a lie. Why are people choosing to ignore the truth in the actual number of arrest made by other cities as compared to ours? I’ll tell you why, because it doesn’t sell newspapers and create unnecessary controversy. You have a handful of people that showed up at the city council meeting on the 18th that bitched and moaned about getting arrested and then blame the cops and call them racist when it was their own ignorance or bad drunken behavior that got them in trouble in the first place. Now you want a civilian review board. Fine, but do it because of a real need based on the true statistics (which have been ignored), not because a handful of misfits that got themselves in trouble and have no one to blame but the cops. Accept some responsibility for your actions.

  27. Great blog Raj.  And I personally saw you speak at the council.  You are very bright and a great speaker as well.

    To those against the idea of more oversight….  if the police are not doing anything wronge, why would they care about oversight????  If they have nothing to hide, why would they care about oversight???

    Just a thought.

  28. Christian I believe in this country everyone arrested IS innocent until proven guilty.  But what do I know.

    Anyhow I think this conversation has been going on for YEARS AND YEARS.  There seems to be no middle ground or compromise.  Either you’re pro-drunk or pro-cop.  What needs to happen is people need to look at this in a more rational manner and maybe there could be some changes.  I believe changes do need to be made.  But no one seems to have the courage to take the lead.

  29. #16, all the bloggers you cited are part of an elite group in San Jose.
    They do not understand what it’s like to be non-white
    They do not understand buying a used car.
    They do not understand what it’s like to shop at Target` or Wall-Mart

    To them, being Mexican is to wear a sombrero and drink a Corona beer.
    To them, being Indian is to wear a turban and drive a taxi.
    To them, being Vietnamese is to drive erratic and be rude when getting in line.

    To them, being white is always right.

    I’ll ask the question again; what is the behavioral difference between a crowd leaving a Shark’s home game victory, and Downtown clients leaving downtown clubs after closing time?

  30. Kathleen, Thanks for the concrete suggestion you offered of putting cameras in police cars. I believe this is the first one given by those critical of the article. While I would support this, I think it bears mention that drunk in public arrests in the down town are mostly done by officers on foot, not in patrol cars. 

    This brings us back to the point that the above article, Downtowner and others have been raising… releasing the public records of arrests made by SJPD (the “sunshine laws” that Mayor Reed based campaigned on) would be a far cheaper alternative. What does the SJPD and the council have to fear? There has yet to be a credible objection to this.

    To the others who responded to me, apparently I’m part of the “liberal elite”? Are accusations of world domination by Jewish conspiracies coming in your next post? Sorry I don’t have the time to deal with your lack of intelligence, which is probably fueled by too many hours watching Bill O’Riely and Sarah Palin speeches.

    I have to say though, this comment had me laughing… “sanjoseinside as simply an echo chamber for conservatives or those whose empathy extends only to homeowners, rightwing politicians, cops, and the occasional animal (as long as it isn’t human young, poor, and brown).” Indeed!

  31. #30- East Side Dre,
    You said: “What needs to happen is people need to look at this in a more rational manner and maybe there could be some changes.” I couldn’t agree with you more! So let’s give it a go shall we?

    Here are the facts as I see them:
    The reason nothing has changed, nor will it change is because everyone is too busy pointing fingers at everyone else instead of collaborating, and taking some personal responsibility for their part in this whole mess.

    Let’s start with the bars and clubs:
    High rents/leases, high business taxes and high permits/fees, and a really bad economy equals the need to sell lots of booze, and hold events that draw large rowdy crowds, mostly from out of town.

    Next, comes the Police problem. Our first IPA got rid of the Pay Cop system, so the Mayor and Council ordered in heavy Police presence to control the problem. The Police being short staffed and made to work over time in DT get stuck dealing with drunks, when they would rather be home with their families. One or two new recruits fresh out of the academy tells some drunken idiot to knock it off, they don’t, so they get arrested, or a new Cop actually does abuse his/her authority and BAM the Mercury News has them on the front page of the paper to increase their slumping sales! The good Police Officers get lumped in with the one or two idiots who aren’t decent Cops. But hey that’s okay because the Merc not only sells more papers; they are on every News Station on TV.

    Then there’s the politician looking for new jobs or positions in government, who take on the supposed racial profiling accusations because hey, it is tough being a used up former Council Member or former Assemblyperson no one remembers! (Somewhat like being a former wealthy, well-known child star!)
    Then there are the non-profits, and the NAACP, ACLU that need funding so they come out screaming injustice! There are plenty of grants out there to fight hatred, discrimination, even if you don’t have proof. They don’t bother to work with youth on behaving respectfully toward Officers when stopped, or even consider the possibility that drug and alcohol abuse is on the rise everywhere, regardless of race, age, or financial status. No that would require real work on their part.

    Now the plot thickens, the Mayor and Council take a strong stand for public safety not only for we citizens, but for businesses who have suffered damage by these drunken idiots, so they’re accused of being in the pockets of labor/unions, and beholding to right winged donors.

    All the while no one is actually looking at the troublemakers in this. The drunken college students, or the drunken out of towners, or the drunken brawlers that live here get to sneak away from taking responsibility for their actions.  They have arrest records for doing this before, but now that the Merc has said it is racial profiling, BAM now any chance of taking personal accountability or doing anything about the REAL problems are GONE.

    They now have a great excuse for pointing fingers at the cops and everyone is happy. The non-profits get money, the club/bar owners have an excuse for selling liquor to already drunken patrons, the used up politicians get in the news again, and on and on.  Yeah, it sure is something to see. The only problem here is that innocent citizens, business owners, and decent Police Officers suffer because a chosen few ruin it for everyone else, and the Merc gets to sell more papers, and the Metro sells more ads.

  32. Downtownster: 

    I have been to almost all of these meetings – the one sponsored by the ACLU, the one sponsored the Independent Police Auditor’s office, the City’s Human Rights Commission, and the meetings at City Hall to name a few, and I always see the same people.  These people always condemn the WHOLE Police Department, not specific individuals.  Additionally about ¾’s of these people have arrest records, according to their own testimony.  Raj does the same thing they do – he is ALWAYS critical of the police, and never looks at the whole problem.  He does not look at the problems caused by having so many drunken people get out in a small area at one time.  He never looks at the issue of public drunkenness; or a code of conduct when a police officer approaches you; or acknowledges that the SJPD are given a tough job to police downtown when the nightclubs let out.  He never gives the SJPD any credit, or respect for all the good things they do in our community.  Point out ONE of his posts where he “sings the praises” the SJPD.  He never does.  He is always critical. And, for me, that is where he looses credibility.  When he starts presenting a balanced argument, and looking at all sides of this issue, THEN his arguments will gain credibility.

    There is a lot the Police do for this community.  Funding after-school activities for kids (at the PAL Stadium, just a few blocks from Story and King) and raising money for victims of crimes (regardless of their race) to name a few.  They get involved in our community, and support our community.  I never hear you, Raj, or any of the SJPD critics acknowledge this, or talk about how we can work with them to help these, or other groups. 

    Public Oversight.  The public (You, Me, Raj, and everyone who is not a police officer) has NO clue what it is like to be a trained police officer in a life and death situation.  We do not know what they go through day in and day out on the job. We have no clue what it is like to stop someone for speeding, or be called to the site of a domestic violence dispute, and not know if someone has a weapon, is on drugs, or is going to harm them or a member of the public.  You never hear the Metro, or the Mercury News write about how difficult it is for a police officer, who scrapes a kid off the concrete, when they are killed by a hit and run drunken driver, nor do you hear about what it is like for them when they are dealing with a child who has suffered abuse, or a rape victim.  Unlike a firefighter, who is everyone’s friend, a Police Officer is like the bad parent who grounds you when you come home late, or don’t finish you homework.  A police officer is charged with keeping the public safe above all else, and that is a difficult job, especially downtown when the nightclubs let out. So how can you really expect a citizens oversight committee to evaluate an officer’s performance?  To give a group of civilians who have no idea what that is like to be a police officer the power to judge police officers is not the solution.  That is my problem with a Civilian Review Board.  Times have changed.  You might want to go see the movie, “No Country for Old Men”.

    About your comment, “…keep trying to shift the discussion of the problem in the relationship between the SJPD and the community from being about inappropriate police behavior to the behavior of the public itself.”  In mediation, there is a saying:  There are two sides to every story, and then there is the truth.  To always attack the police and not address the public’s part in this issue is another way your argument (and Raj’s) looses credibility.  You never deal with the issue of public drunkenness.  To hear the argument from you two, it is the Police Department’s entire fault, and that is just not true.  What about the Club and bar owners that are selling alcohol to people that are already drunk?  What about the events held downtown that attract rowdy people?  What about the San Jose State University drunken college crowd,, and how about the parents of underage kids who are frequenting downtown after hours?  Don’t they have any responsibility in this?

  33. This is a civil rights issue, plain and simple. SJPD are arresting and harrassing not drunk downtown club goers and those who are definately not drunk and disorderly. Latino and African American youths are disproportionately represented. I’ve been down there and its unreal how many SJPD are there—patrol cars lined up on sidewalks; officers lined up glaring at young folks waiting in line to get into the Voodoo Lounge, etc. There are too many given what is actually going on down there—the City’s dream come true = crowds of well dressed young people enjoying San Jose’s Downtown.

    Residents of El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe have called for police oversight and accountability since the 1960’s. We saw CAP in the 60’s and 70s, then ACOPP in the 1980’s because when SJPD officers don’t exercise good judgement and people are harmed there’s been little the victims and their families have been able to do about it.

    Let’s hope the City Council will wise up and finally appoint a volunteer advisory board to perform SJPD oversight. With proper selection and correct training by SJPD and advocacy groups like the ACLU, Silicon Valley Debug and the National Lawyers Guild We could have something that works.

  34. #25 B Young
      “Why would they care about oversite?”
    #30 Eastside dre
      “No One has the courage to take the lead”
    #33 Kathleen
      “Equals the need to sell lots of booze”
         
    #35 Amerika
        “The city’s dream came true”
     
      The political night mare continues zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
                Shark Bite