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.