Sam Liccardo: Fire Cops Who Lie

A mayoral contender agrees with an audit that says police who lie to investigators should be fired.

Downtown Councilman Sam Liccardo’s proposal, up for discussion at City Council Tuesday, would urge the San Jose Police Department to update the duty manual to make lying during an investigation cause for an automatic termination.

The memo comes on the heels of Independent Auditor LaDoris Cordell’s year-end report, which called out two cops for having sex while on duty, lying to investigators about it and still keeping their jobs.

“It’s not the sex as much as the lying I’m concerned about,” Cordell told San Jose Inside last week. “The integrity of the department is based on the honesty of the officers. You can’t build trust with the community if we have officers lying and getting away with it. Honesty is critical, absolutely.”

In his memo, Liccardo recognizes that there may be mitigating details about the case under wraps because of laws that keep police discipline confidential. But he pointed out that keeping untruthful officers on staff compromises public trust and could discredit court testimony officers would have to give.

“We do not purport to know whether some barrier in state law or a union contractual provision might have prevented their termination,” wrote Liccardo, a former prosecutor. “We do know, however, that we must send an unequivocal message to our workforce that our community expects that our officers will uphold the highest standards of ethics, and we will not tolerate lying to conceal misconduct.”

Cordell’s audit released last week showed an 83-percent dip in internal investigations of alleged misconduct, which could either be because morale issues over understaffing or because officers are actually behaving better. Citizen-initiated complaints, on the other hand, have peaked since 2010.

Cordell will present her report before the City Council at 1:50pm on Tuesday.

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

33 Comments

  1. Good. Lying to the police is a crime but apparently lying by the police is not.

    • Cops can legally lie to crooks and even people during an investigation to get the truth of the matter because people lie to the cops a lot… Hold the San Jose politicians (current and future) accountable to the same Standard that Liccardo and Cordell want. Terminate any lying SJ City politician currently employed if determined they ever lied to voters and public at large. I recall in recent years that happened by the way..

  2. Hey Sam, how about we fire all mayors and council members who lie to us (voters). That seems to be a common trend among those that sit on this current city council. So what you are telling us is that you are above the law? What band wagon will you jump on next so you can be the successor of the worst liar in San Jose history (Chuck) but you are a close second. As a so called prosecutor you should be ashamed, but then we know you don’t give a damn about our concerns.

    My recommendation is you update the council “duty manual” to quit lying to us about all the public funds you are hiding and quit crying that the city has no money. How about opening the books and showing the hidden funds and special projects that are being funded.

  3. Cops can lie to crooks legally -US Supreme Court ruled it legal. What about San Jose politicians lying to public to further their agenda. Shouldn’t they be fired too if we follow this logic?

    • If you think that the police auditor constitutes a “crook” and that lying to that auditor should be acceptable, then your opinion isn’t particularly rational. Sounds like you’re just against whatever Liccardo is for.

      • Clarification for Carthagus- “crook” equals suspect arrested or suspected of a crime. “Politician” equals currently elected city officials and/or one who is politically/administratively appointed to perform a city function… Don’t confuse the two -although sometimes their paths do cross cross each other.. Just saying.

        • I don’t see how that in any way clarifies your defense of these police officers who lied during internal investigations under the premise that the Supreme Court has given police officers the right to lie to criminal suspects.

          • Carthagus – unfortunately we are not of the same ideology and realistic life lessons. People lie, always have, always will.. Such is life. When we lie to the system it’s a big deal, when the system lies to us it’s okay? The system lies to you everyday…
            and probably never will stop lying or feeding you mis-truths… Good day

  4. Agreed , but lets hold All Public Officials to that same standard . Im sick and tired of this Mayor and Council pointing the finger at others , while they themselves are as guilty or more .

  5. “We do not purport to know whether some barrier in state law or a union contractual provision might have prevented their termination,” wrote Liccardo

    Assuming the police officers did lie, Mr. Liccardo has no idea if his proposal would have any effect if a similar situation came about in the future. All the while Mr. Liccardo still has no plan for fully staffing SJPD and SJFD.

  6. “The integrity of the department is based on the honesty of the officers. You can’t build trust with the community if we have officers lying and getting away with it. Honesty is critical, absolutely.”

    If the police manual is going to be rewritten to accommodate the councilman’s wishes the wording better be carefully considered, as it would prove a disaster should it lead some unfortunate young officer to a literal interpretation of such a standard. After all, in a modern police organization there is a time and place for honesty, and the penalty for not knowing when or where can be devastating. Young officers should know to be…

    Honest: in all enforcement-related duties, whether documenting a crime, testifying in court, or answering a misconduct charge.

    Selectively honest: when necessary to spare the feelings of good citizens or deserving coworkers.

    Dishonest: when expressing compassion for dead criminals or respect for politicians; answering public queries regarding the relationship between race and violent crime; addressing parental questions about the prospects of fixing unfixable children; and, most importantly, evaluating the job performance or intellectual abilities of those incompetent coworkers anointed with protected class status.

  7. I’m not a supporter of Liccardo’s campaign, but he (and Ms. Cordell) are absolutely, 110% correct about this.

    • I agree to disagree, One is trying to justify her over paid position and the other is just a flat out liar trying to be our next out lying mayor.

    • If it is so right , then Hold everyone in Public Office and Public service to the same Standard .

  8. Wonderful Lawyer tactic. Accuse or admonish others for something that you, yourself, are guilty of. This guy is a serious slimeball. Deflect and redirect the focus. Everyone here on this board should be smart enough to see what this man is doing…

  9. Interesting choice of photo to accompany this article… One politician / community leader who hates the police with another….

  10. JG,

    That “lady” is Blanca Alvarado, a celebrated local race merchant who spent her decades in elected office representing the prejudiced interests and long-simmering resentments of Mexicans. Among her accomplishments; directing taxpayer money towards the care and feeding of Mexican pride (aka: the Mexican Heritage Plaza); generous taxpayer funding for Mexican parades and festivals (writing off the city’s costs); sentencing the Fallon statue to a relocation camp (for the man’s role in the saving this land from the curse of Mexican rule); transforming the county taxpayer’s modest health care system into an illegal alien megalopolis; and the debilitating “reform” of the juvenile justice system a decade ago (in which her stated goal was to “reduce the disproportionate confinement of minority youth”).

  11. Oh pardon us–we only have all the artists, the writers, the poets and dramaturges, and the politica which brought us out of the second or third-class fruit and vegetable picking status which was our due as “obstacles to civilization”, a civilization which only amounted to self-aggrandizing lies about “superiority”–a myth which we, the so-called “ignorant and lazy” people are putting in it’s veritable grave. Miraculous isn’t it how “worthless” and “incapable” and more to the point, “uneducable” brown-skinned people are advancing in every front, while your side is losing. Have you been long enough in San José to recall one Robert Trout? He was a jitney driver at Santa Clara Packing when I worked there in the late fifties, and drove up to me one memorable day to spew his overt nazi ideology on me. My uncle V.J. Maggi was foreman, so I simply let this exponent of Goebbels methods do his very detailed and memorised spiel for me, “the hated Mexican.” A couple of minutes into this abuse, I realised that everything he was telling me I had already had drilled into my poor teenage brain in Fresno, from various sources: the racist students; teachers, texts, the “liberal” McClatchy Bee, fims, books, you name it. He unintentionally hipped me on my ugly Fresno experience, giving it an ideological perspective on it that he never intended: that of nazism. You have a serious problem, but it isn’t with people like me, it’s with yourself. If this is a “cultural war” and I believe that it is, you should pay attention as to the viablity of your ideas, which are ugly, negative and absurd. Your neurotic notions certainly do not even benefit you. Check out the Southern Poverty Law Center website for studies as to how viable are the nazi, klan, nativist and tea-bagger groups nationwide. You should do so, because you parrot them rather faithfully, and they are diminishing in number and volubility. They are losing, frankly because they are losers, and keep imploding and shooting themselves in the butt, so to speak They are dumb. The remaining ones are getting louder and more violent, but Americans don’t want them in power, which would be violent and strictly top-down authoritarian. A Columbia University study shows that people like you cut years off their own lives by getting overheated about the cultural “Other.” Get yourself to City College and take a Cultural Appreciation course, because racism is social corruption. I was raised by my grandmother, a little Mexican Indian lady who set my feet on a good path. At seven years of age I could have approximated in simpler terms the advice I give you now. What happened to you?