San Jose Employees Accused of Serious Crimes to Be Placed on Leave Immediately

The City of San José will immediately begin enforcing a new, tougher policy for city employees accused of serious crimes, “given recent incidents involving [city] employees.”

“The revisions identify clear triggers for credible criminal allegations that immediately place accused employees on administrative leave until a preliminary investigation is complete,” according to a city announcement. The triggers include crimes such as, but not limited to, alleged sexual misconduct, assault or battery, theft or bribery.

City Manager Jennifer Maguire is to be immediately notified when any city employee is accused of any of these crimes.

“We have taken immediate action to protect the safety and financial health of our community with this new policy that applies to all city employees,” Jennifer Maguire said in a statement. “This preventive measure will help us ensure that potential crime against our community by the very people whom they trust to keep them safe will not occur again and are swiftly acted on. The policy provides safeguards so the public will have confidence in how we handle these situations when criminal or administrative investigations are underway.”

The San José Police Department has worked with Maguire’s office to immediately change the way the city handles “criminal allegations against city employees that have the potential to impact the safety or financial health of the community or other city employees.”

“I appreciate the swift action by the chief of police and the city manager to ensure that we do not subject members of our community to any foreseeable risk of harm while investigating future allegations of criminal misconduct by city employees,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement.

Liccardo on May 12 announced he would press for stricter, more consistent policies like the one announced by Maguire and that he would also 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 at the time.

The mayor was responding to reports that an unnamed San José police officer was placed on leave many months ago for allegedly offering a meth pipe to an informant in exchange for information.

In announcing the new policy, Maguire said it was prompted by two other cases in particular, a city code enforcement officer convicted of soliciting bribes and a police officer charged with a sex crime.

San Jose Police Officer Matthew Dominguez was arrested May 12 and charged with masturbating in the home of a family where he and other officers had been dispatched for an April disturbance. He is to be arraigned on a misdemeanor indecent exposure charge on June 22.

Former code enforement officer William Gerry was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted of soliciting bribes and extorting sex from massage parlor owners, and also was .

found guilty of molesting two people years ago when they were children, it was announced May 20.

"These revisions reflect our deep commitment to doing everything possible to prevent similar incidents in the future,” Chief of Police Anthony Mata said in a statement. “In every case, immediate action and collaboration with the city manager’s office will ensure that decisions to remove an officer or city employee from contact with the public are made at the highest levels and with the greatest urgency. Protecting the public is paramount; that is what this policy intends to do.”

Under the new policy, after a preliminary review of the allegation, a determination will be made to keep the employee on administrative leave or to reassign the employee to other non-public facing duties, if applicable, until the criminal and/or administrative investigation is completed. The determination will be reviewed and given final approval by the city manager. The city may reevaluate an employee’s leave status or assignment as new information becomes available or as other circumstances change.

Other allegations of criminal misconduct by any employee will be considered on a case-by-case basis, according to the city. Determinations as to whether an employee will be placed on administrative leave, reassigned, or permitted to continue in their current assignment will be made by Mata or Maguire’s office following the review of the facts immediately available.

 

Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.

5 Comments

  1. Respectfully, when Santa Clara County government officials violate the US Constitution
    and US Federal laws, there is a flow-down
    organizational effect in City of San Jose
    Police Department operations—it becomes
    tougher for the SJPD to perform their
    job responsibilities.

    Example: Organized CALPERS crime rings,
    violating laws, with each accomplice,
    concerned about whistleblower’s retaliation,
    effects on career. Is it society see, society
    do-a very serious question, as it is the
    SJPD (and other PD’s, dependent upon
    jurisdiction, who need to respond).

    SCC Board of Supervisors need to take
    action to assure US Constitution and
    US Federal laws are respected. (Scienter
    Laws would help dissipate the aforementioned
    CALPERS organized crime rings).

    Thank you.

  2. Attorney and Honorable Mayor Liccardo,

    Respectfully, does the City of San Jose
    Manager’s approach violate “guilty
    until proven innocent,” rights to due
    process, prior to anyone being penalized
    with City of San Jose job dismissal
    and/or Administrative leave? Will
    it cost taxpayers? Should this be on
    the November, 2022.ballot? Thank you.

  3. Why should police officers be exempt from random drug and alcohol testing? They need to set a good example. And since there’s a union, why does the Mayor even have an issue with this? Just demand it in negotiations. If the police strike over that issue it will destroy any remaining credibility they might have with the public. They certainly have none with anyone they arrest for drug crimes (and to answer a question that might have occurred to both my readers: No, I’ve never been arrested. For anything).

    Another union issue that’s almost never discussed is the almost universal feeling among the public (that isn’t a union member or have one in their family): labor unions should not be allowed to represent government employees.

    Like his predecessors, President FDR kept labor unions out of all federal jobs even though he was pro-labor. He knew both electeds and appointees would negotiate with unions using taxpayers money. Government workers, and their numerous supporters add up to a lot of votes. That matters in elections. He knew that eventually, electeds would cave in and agree to the union’s exorbitant pay and benefit demands.

    He was right, as his successor JFK proved when he agreed to allow labor unions to organize federal bureaucrats, and many states followed JFK’s lead. Now the cat is out of the bag. Getting it back in will be difficult, but it is the right thing to do.

    The public has to pay when the electeds or their hand-picked negotiators aagree to a contract that’s very bemneficial to the union members, but very costly to the taxpaying public.

    A contract is typically signed after the usual Kabuki play — with a wink and a nod. The union always gets more pay, and better benefits. The unspoken quid pro quo is union votes, and even better: the union tacitly agrees to not attack the incumbent.

    That isn’t representing the public; it’s corruption, and it happens all the time.

    But how could it be any other way, when unions are involved and the public has no say? That’s a lot of votes, and electeds are only almost human. But anyone reviewing their city’s pay scale for police officers, from the Chief and his several Deputy Chiefs, down to a rookie patrolman would have to say that thishas gotten out of hand, when even a Police Chief’s deputies in this Countyare paid close to a half million dollars every year in pay and benefits.

    It’s no wonder that just about every local city operates in the red. Their union scale employees is a city’s #1 budget line item; far more than any other expense. Over the past couple decades the “peer group” pay argument has held sway in negotiations since every city opens contract negotiations at different times.

    Each union in turn argues that the pay for (whichever bureaucrat group is being discussed in negotiations) lags the other cities — their “peer group.” And it’s true. That’s because every contract gives the current group a pay raise that’s as high as the highest “peer,” and often it’s more. That raises the bar, which the next city’s negotiators either match or exceed.

    This merry-go-round has been going on for a long time now. Even the local Chiefs have caught on. They aren’t in the union, being administrators — but their argument is hard to resist: “I can’t be paid less than the people I supervise!”

    As a result, taxpayers are paying their police chiefs a half million to nearly a million dollars every year (typically including a 3% per year of service pension benefit; after the usual 35 – 40 years on the job, a police chief’s retirement pay is significantly higher than his current salary. It also includes lifetime medical insurance and other expensive benefits).

    Each side scratches the other’s back. Chiefs use statistics to argue that “Crime is down under my watch!” And the patrolmen and women argue that “We risk our lives!” Which is true. But no one forced them into their occupation. That being the case, it was something they wanted to do — and they would do it regardless of their pay. There are other perqs to the job, and the dangerous part is pretty much over once they’re past foot patrolling, responding to domestic abuse calls, liquor store holdups, and similar crimes.

    Electeds negotiating the city’s side of a contract should be acting in the city’s best interest. But are they? They typically roll over when a union demands higher pay and greater benefits than comparable private sector jobs. How is that representing their city’s residents?

    Take a look at your local streets some time, then ask yourself if your taxes should be raised so the city’s bureaucrats get the pay raises they demand, or should more be spent on local street maintenance?

    That’s just one example out of many. There are other benefits that would come with a non-union city workers as well. Without a union running interference, the Mayor would be their exclusive administrator.

    In the event of a school shooting, for example, without a union to contend with the Mayor, s/he would have a free hand to fire any police officers or security personnel employed by the city, if s/he decided it’s in their own best interest to huddle for an hour discussing what to do about all the gunfire, instead of doing what’s in the kids’ best interest by promptly eliminating the threat.

    After all is said and done, the children’s safety is their job, is it not?

    But when a union is involved it’s the usual story: any discipline is extremely moderate, to non-existent. Most of the time there’s not even mild scolding. Then everyone goes back to their job, waiting for the dust to settle and closer to collecting a fat pension.

    When a union is involved in government employment, the workers serve two masters: the administration and the union. But that never works.

    No worker can serve two masters in a fair and equitable manner. Which one will they cling to whenever they feel threatened? They prefer the master that protects their job, not the one that might be a threat to their job.

    But what about the overtaxed public? Who represents them? Anyone? (and please don’t say ‘their representatives’. The electeds might represent us in most things, but when it comes to votes the electeds always look out for #1).

    And what about the distraught, grief stricken parents in the next school shooting? Who represents them? They’re only a handful of votes, compared to thousands of votes that might go against the electeds, if they try to keep their city’s budget in the black.

    If the officers who preferred to sit out the action had been summarily fired for failing to protect the kids, cowardice like that would be far less likely the next time gunshots were heard in or around a school.

    But the way it is now, their cowardice was rewarded. It convinced other officers that there’s no downside to belly-crawling except for some temporary media shaming, which will quickly be forgotten by everyone except a few parents. That’s a small price to pay to assure the officers own safety, isn’t it?

    Also, this is not intended to be an anti-union rant. I support the right of all private sector employees to join a labor union. But when a negotiator has someone else’s money at stake, the final outcome always ends up with profligate pay for the work performed. And there’s always the unspoken… ‘You won’t mobilize your XX thousand union members to campaign against me next election? So, how much do you want…?’

    That’s unfair to those paying the freight, no?

    Yes, it is. And it’s got to change.

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