City leaders want the San Jose Police Department to detail its crowd control measures, review the use of rubber projectiles and amend policies about physical force.
The proposal comes after a week of protests, which began in the first few days with police choking crowds around City Hall with tear gas and pummeling them with rubber bullets and metal-filled bean-bag rounds. Community members have since been calling on the City Council to defund the police and enact meaningful reforms to rein them in.
Next Tuesday, the council may take some initial steps in that direction.
“These past days of civil unrest have been the catalyst to police reform, but not the culmination,” Liccardo said in a news release. “To ensure the reform process is transparent and meaningful, we need to understand where we are starting from. The council and the public to fully understand whether SJPD’s use-of-force, for what is commonly referred to as ‘crowd control,’ meet the high standards for the [SJPD].”
The proposal, which Liccardo co-authored with Vice Mayor Chappie Jones and council members Raul Peralez, Lan Diep and Magdalena Carrasco, calls on SJPD to detail the criteria for using rubber bullets, flash bangs and tear gas. The councilors also want to hear from SJPD’s top brass about whether they should amend the city’s municipal code to ban the use of rubber bullets and other projectiles altogether.
“Our community deserves to understand the challenges our police faced this past weekend as well as the rationale behind their responses,” Peralez said. “As a current reserve and former full-time officer, I have the utmost respect for the difficult job of our San Jose Police officers, but public and transparent review into their actions is not only necessary, it will help us become a better department.”
The council members also want to establish a way for community leaders to formally review SJPD’s use-of-force policies. The proposal is one of four recommendations from the Obama Foundation’s My Brothers Keeper Alliance Mayoral Action Pledge.
“As one of the largest cities in the nation, we have a responsibility to lead the way by ensuring the safety of all our residents who choose to exercise their constitutional right to assemble and to freedom of speech,” Carrasco said. “Examining internal practices is a necessity if we are to continue to serve our city with accountability.”
After a number of videos of San Jose cops circulated online—including a viral clip of Officer Jared Yuen cursing at protestors—the council members are asking SJPD to release any additional footage that that would provide a “fuller picture” of what transpired this past week. At the very least, Liccardo, Jones, Peralez, Diep and Carrasco want SJPD to release film of a police motorcycle running into a pedestrian, cops repeatedly hitting a protestor and of Yuen’s interaction with the crowd.
“I recognize the difficult situation that our police officers are put in every time they answer the call to protect people and property during a protest,” Jones said. “I also recognize that our residents who wish to express their First Amendment rights should also be protected from harm.”
To ensure there is accountability and transparency over SJPD’s Internal Affairs division, the councilors also want to expand the powers of the Independent Police Auditor (IPA).
If the proposal is approved next Tuesday, city officials would return to council by the first week of August with ballot language to give the police auditor more oversight and access to police records. In the last week, the IPA office has received more than 600 complaints relating to officer misconduct at the protests.
“In this moment a large number of citizens are seeking reform of policing methods,” Diep said. “It is imperative that we at the city rise to the occasion by listening, adapting, and changing in response to the wishes of the people whom we are here to serve. We must reexamine the role of law enforcement and the use of force in our society. This must be an ongoing process of reform.”
To review next week’s full council agenda, click here.