San Jose Mayor Asks SJPD to Justify Projectiles, Tear Gas, Other Crowd-Control Tactics

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

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

13 Comments

  1. Is “protestor” a word? It reminds me of draft resistors in thermoelectronic device components.

  2. Good job mayor, your trained thugs continue to violate the rights of your constituents.
    We all know nothing will become of this because you and your corrupt city and county officials are too busy swilling at the public trough.

  3. So, if the use of rubber bullets and beanbags is banned altogether, what do the police do, go straight to lethal force?
    As to those “community members”who want to defund the police, get back to us all again after you get your wish and you are robbed, your home is burglarized, your wife and daughters are raped, and someone beats your dumbas* to a pulp…and there is no one to respond.

    • That happens already. I’m guessing that it’s only a threat so these types of problems don’t happen again.

  4. I think from a purely political perspective Liccardo is 100% blowing this crisis at a time when SJ desperately needs political leadership. This crisis for me has really laid bare Liccardo’s weakness as a politician, which is that he is wooden and incapable of truly speaking from the heart. I have always known Liccardo as a very careful politician, someone who is very calculated about what he says. There are pros to that approach, and I suppose it serves the kind of technocratic role Liccardo tries to serve, but we need a moral leader and not someone who comes across as a CEO watching how his comments affect his shareholders. But I’m not sure he’d be capable of a genuine response on this even if he tried. I don’t think Liccardo has spent much time with the sort of regular everyday people that the police have been interacting with. He has spent his entire life in elite institutions. I try to assume the best in people, but sometimes I wonder how much he looks down on us, and I’m not sure if that reflects more on my own insecurities or if I’m correctly identifying that subtle emotion in his face I’ve been seeing as disdain.

  5. Arm the citizens to protect life and property and this will all stop fairly quickly. You want to defund the police, then we the people need to police our neighborhoods and businesses for our safety.

    • There are a couple of stories about how the folks In Snohomish WA thwarted an Antifa invasion by showing up on the streets carrying their weapons. Open carry is legal in WA state.

  6. > SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — A community activist, who has worked for years to promote understanding between San Jose police and the public, was seriously injured by a riot gun in the George Floyd protest one week ago.
    – – – –
    Just across the street, Sanderlin saw police shooting rubber bullets at protesters, including young women at close range.
    , , ,

    “I really just couldn’t watch it anymore,” Sanderlin said. “And just kind of made like a parallel walkover, put my hands up, and just stood in the line of the fire and asked them to please not do this.”

    The video shows the officers’ training their riot guns on Sanderlin.
    – – – –

    “Stood in the line of fire”? During a riot?

    Well, DUH!

    Self inflicted injury.

  7. Take away those tools to quell a riot and the only thing left is batons. A lot of rioters will be going to the hospital with broken bones……Brilliant, Liccardo. If you want to see what that looks like, watch some of the riots from the 1960’s.

  8. To listen to City leaders cited in this article, you’d think they have no say in the matter as to how the police operate in their City. Liccardo openly says that the City Charter does not allow him to fire any City employee, including police officers. In fact, the City Council is responsible to set and oversee police doctrines and methods in the same way that the federal civilian leadership in the Congress and the foreign service enable and supposedly oversee the doctrine, aims and methods of the armed forces.
    The very labor agreement between the City and the Police Officers’ Association, the so-called Memorandum of Agreement (January 1, 2017–June 30, 2020), states this clearly: “…[T]he City retains all rights, powers and authority granted to it or which it has pursuant to law or other provisions of the City Charter including, but not limited to: the right to direct the work force; increase, decrease or reassign the work force; hire, promote, demote; discharge or discipline for cause; or reclassify employees; provide merit increases; assign employees overtime and special work requirements, and to determine the necessity, merits, mission and organization of any service or activity of the City or any City Department Agency or Unit” (p. 26) (https://www.sanjoseca.gov/home/showdocument?id=32017).
    Even section C 1307 of the Police Department’s own Duty Manual states: “Department members will strive to be responsive to the needs and problems of the community consistent with the Department’s mission. While the law governs the Department’s task, the policies formulated to guide the enforcement of the law must include consideration of the public will. This responsiveness will be evident at all levels of the Department by a willingness to listen and a genuine concern for the problems of individuals” (http://www.sjpd.org/records/dutymanual.asp, p. 64).

    (Neither the Memorandum of Understanding nor the Duty Manual say anything about the proper purpose, role or function of the police or policing. They are silent on the most consequential of questions; namely, why should we have police at all and why should the police force be structured in the way that it is. Try searching for the word “purpose” in either document.)

    Yet City leaders demure and defer to the Police Department in the same way our “leaders” in Congress do to the Defense Department and the intelligence agencies. The last time a checked, the U.S. is neither a military dictatorship nor a police state, although the compromised political class that takes money from the very same interests that they supposedly command and oversee is playing footsie with those scenarios all the damned time. As this article implies, 6 of 11 council members did not sign on to the very timid proposal to review police crowd control measures, even after a week of some serious events with serious implications for the well-being of our city.
    That the majority on the Council couldn’t bring themselves to support this measure is strongly suggestive of the obvious conflict of interests: the Police Officer’s Association is a campaign donor to the very same politicians who are responsible to oversee their mission and organization. You can dig through some of the data on such contributions by the Association, and by every other major vested local elite interest using the data sources used in https://maplight.org/story/campaign-funding-in-silicon-valley-spotlight-on-san-jose/. Police violence and brutality are merely by-products and reflections of a local and national power structure engendered by and committed to a vastly disparate distribution of material wealth. Ultimately, the masses in the streets are up against that power structure. The police are merely the first line of defense in and for that structure.

    • >As this article implies, 6 of 11 council members did not sign on to the very timid proposal to review police crowd control measures, even after a week of some serious events with serious implications for the well-being of our city.

      If this is in reference to the fact that 5 out of 11 council members signed the memo, that’s because it’s illegal for a majority of council members to discuss an item among themselves prior to a public meeting. It would be considered an admission of a Brown Act violation to have more than 5 signatures on a memo.

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