Amid New Reports of Police Misconduct, San Jose Mayor Calls for Tough Prosecution, New Screening

In March, the San Jose Police Department was stunned by the Fentanyl overdose death of 24-year-old rookie officer Dijon Packer, a former San Jose State football star.

Then early this month, it was revealed that the FBI had turned in an officer who had been found drunk while working at the scene of the Baby Brandon kidnapping April 25. San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata, in reporting the incident, declined to identify the officer, but said he was “disappointed and dismayed” by the incident.

“When any officer tarnishes the badge,” the chief said May 3, “we all suffer the consequences.”

Things for his department only got worse, as the month progressed.

An off-duty officer was cited by the California Highway Patrol for driving while intoxicated, causing an accident in Hayward. There were no injuries.

Then on Thursday, a police spokesperson confirmed to local media that a San Jose police officer is on administrative leave after he allegedly traded a meth pipe to a woman in exchange for information.

The alleged incident happened late last year and the unidentified officer has been on leave since December, the department confirmed, without identifying the officer.

Also on Thursday, District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced that San Jose Police Officer Matthew Dominguez, 32 was charged with masturbating in the home of a family where he and other officers had been dispatched for an April 21 disturbance.

Dominguez, a four-year veteran, was arrested May 12 and is to be arraigned on a misdemeanor indecent exposure charge on June 22.

“The charged behavior is beyond disturbing,” Rosen said. “Law enforcement officers respond to our homes to help crime victims, not terrorize, traumatize, and create new victims.”

Rosen said evidence shows that after initiating the investigation, Dominguez sent the other officers away to locate the subject. Shortly thereafter, Dominguez touched himself in front of two female family members, then exposed himself to the mother.”The shocked and scared victims fled and reported the officer’s behavior to two male relatives nearby,” according to a press release.

That was enough for San José Mayor Sam Liccardo, who took to the podium on his Facebook page today, and said he will push for changes to the contract with the San Jose Police Officers Association for random drug and alcohol testing of all officers. “To their credit, they’ve indicated a willingness to negotiate on that issue,” Liccardo said.

“I’d like to respond to yesterday’s news about the San José Police officer who was placed on leave many months ago for allegedly offering a meth pipe to an informant in exchange for information,” Liccardo said on Facebook May 12..

“This officer’s conduct amounts to a severe violation of the ethical and professional standards of this department,” the mayor said. He said the officer was placed on administrative leave more than six months ago, “and I’m confident that the department will do whatever is legally necessary to ensure he won’t again wear an SJPD uniform.”
“Obviously, this is the latest in what has become a drumbeat of serious transgressions by young officers in SJPD.” the mayor said.

“In my view, two things are equally true. First, we have a serious problem in SJPD that requires remedial action immediately. Second, these officers do not represent the very high moral and professional standards upheld by 99% of the hardworking SJPD officers protecting our community today.”

“In the days ahead, I look forward to the specific, actionable steps the department will be taking to improve screening and backgrounding of new applicants to the police academy, as well as supervision and investigation of officer misconduct,” Liccardo said.

“For two years, I have very publicly urged reforms in both investigation of police misconduct as well as in the arbitration process for officer discipline. Although some improvements have been made as a result, several others remain subject to state law requirements for negotiation with the police union and possibly, voter approval.  I will continue to push forward with these proposals.”

 

5 Comments

  1. Some of this is beyond belief, but when you continually do not support your police force, and actually turn your back on them when they are out in the streets trying to maintain law and order, especially during the mass rioting and looting events in 2020, the best and brightest on the force know it is time to retire or find a city that will support their efforts.

    Get with it San Jose and
    Refund the Police!

  2. How about a little bit of equal justice. The same bail and the same prosecutorial vigor for the same crime — Be the defendant SJPD or antifa/blm.

  3. Maybe this SJPD officer will get a Lead Commentator job on cnn?
    After all he was just “Toobin” it.

    Equal Justice? If only….

  4. Mayor Liccardo is correct in his judgement of reported egregious behaviors by Police Officers.
    As long as ‘Due Process’ is afforded to the alleged ‘bad-cops’…No problem.
    David S. Wall

  5. Ending qualified immunity should be at the foundation of any serious policing reform. Legislation intended to modify California’s qualified immunity law failed in 2020 but passed in 2021 largely as a result of public pressure stemming from Black Lives Matter activism (https://www.businessinsider.com/california-bill-could-mean-the-end-of-qualified-immunity-2021-8). That activism, and the threat to public stability that the months-long protests portended, was apparently enough to get state-level legislation passed despite the powerful lobbying of organized police and other law enforcement unions.

    Locally, the Police Officers’ Association (POA), local business elites and the compromised city leadership were strong enough, and apparently confident enough, to thwart any significant reform of the San Jose Police Department (SJPD) (https://sanjosespotlight.com/san-jose-city-council-police-use-of-force-hiring-new-chief/#comment-21706). The cops even got a hefty raise, even though it was postponed by about a year for purposes of decorum, after their hideous performance during the spring and summer of 2020 (https://sanjosespotlight.com/san-jose-police-officers-are-getting-a-raise/). All this is another way of saying that our local reform movement has been relatively weak and ineffectual up to now.

    Other cities with larger and better-organized protest movements have been more successful in achieving policing reform. In March 2021, Scientific American reviewed a study on the impact of BLM protests between the time of their inception in 2013 and 2019, the year before George Floyd was murdered. In other words, the study covered the period before the unprecedented explosion of protest activities nationwide in 2020.

    The study found that: “…[P]laces with Black Lives Matter protests experience a 15% to 20% decrease in police homicides over the ensuing five years [2014-2019], around 300 fewer deaths. The gap in lethal use-of-force between places with and without protests widens over these subsequent years and is most prominent when protests are large or frequent…Protests also influence local police agencies, which may explain the reduction. Agencies with local protests become more likely to obtain body-cameras, expand community policing, receive a larger operating budget, and reduce the number of property crime-related arrests…” (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3767097).
    The study also found fewer police killings of Whites as well as Black and Brown people during the 2014-2019 period, again reminding us that the movement for Black lives has important positive consequences and by-products for White lives and all lives.

    Given these circumstances, Mayor Liccardo’s tepid response to recent revelations of misconduct and corruption in the SJPD is laughable posturing. He’s engaged in public relations leveraging of what the police leadership will do anyway, which is to slap some wrists, put some police on leave (with pay), and perhaps get rid of one cop responsible for sexual misconduct. We may now have rules against police choke holds on residents but it looks like the POA’s choke hold on city officials is still as strong as ever.

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