California’s three biggest police unions—including San Jose’s—unveiled a plan over the weekend to clean up the profession and root out racist cops.
As thousands of people throughout the nation marched against police brutality, full-page ads in the Sunday editions of the Mercury News, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle touted the reform agenda newly adopted by the San Jose Police Officers’ Association and its counterparts in S.F. and L.A.
“No words can convey our collective disgust and sorrow for the murder of George Floyd,” the Sunday advertisement reads. “We have an obligation as a profession and as human beings to express our sorrow by taking action.”
The promise by San Jose’s POA to self-police comes amid a renewed nationwide uprising against law enforcement sparked by the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis cops. Locally, families of loved ones killed by police have led a growing call to defund the institution and reallocate funding to community and safety-net services.
But the San Jose City Council has echoed the city’s police department by backing a reformist approach pushed by the POA.
In a press release announcing its major-newspaper ads over the weekend, the unions acknowledged the public outcry over Floyd’s killing.
“Police unions must root out racism wherever it rears its ugly head and root out any racist individual from our profession,” the announcement read. “There are also some people who don’t possess the temperament to be members of law enforcement, and we must also confront and address the damage these individuals cause to the level of community trust we strive to maintain.”
The news release boasted of “tremendous strides” made by police in recent years that strengthened accountability and transparency and limited use of force. However, the unions acknowledged, more must be done.
To that end, the POA outlined a plan to pursue the following initiatives:
- A national database of former police officers fired for gross misconduct that prevents other agencies from hiring them. (California is one of just five states that has no process for permanently revoking cops’ badges for serious crimes or misconduct).
- A national use-of-force standard that emphasizes a reverence for life, de-escalation, a duty to intercede if witnessing excessive force or misconduct, proportional responses to dangerous incidents and strong accountability provisions.
- An early warning system to identify officers that may need more training and mentoring. (San Francisco PD already has a system like this).
- Ongoing and frequent crisis intervention and de-escalation training of police officers to build and refresh skills to improve police and community outcomes.
- A transparent and publicly accessible use-of-force analysis website so that the public can monitor when and how force is used.
“Our unions are committed to the continuous improvement of policing in America,” the POA announcement states. “We believe that each of our departments has made tremendous strides in strengthening accountability, transparency and adopting policies that reduce the number and severity of uses-of-force. However, we can do more, and we believe this agenda should be adopted across our nation as an important step toward improving police and community outcomes.”