SJPD Agrees to Tighten Rules on Riot Guns, Review Controversial Crowd-Control Measures

Amid fierce public backlash over its heavy-handed reaction to recent protests, SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia issued a memo today saying he would voluntarily enact a number of policy changes to show the department’s commitment to “continuous improvement.”

In the face of mounting calls for San Jose to slash police funding, however, what he proposes seems mostly symbolic or marginal.

The chief’s letter includes his latest promise to ramp up community outreach (something notably lacking ahead of recent protests) and to bring SJPD in line with state law when it comes to officers alerting superiors about a colleague’s misconduct. And though just about half the City Council already proposed a ban on rubber bullets, Garcia says he wants to tighten up standards for so-called less-lethal weapons.

Then there’s the timing of the whole thing, which makes it come off as reactive.

Chief Garcia issued the memo just a day ahead of a council hearing where he’s been asked to justify his department’s aggressively response to the first few days of local demonstrations against George Floyd’s killing and systemic injustice.

In the two-page communique, the chief says that from now on, he will require officers who witness a colleague use excessive force to report what they saw to a supervisor. It’s a standard set by SB 230, which California lawmakers passed last year and which becomes mandatory statewide in January 2021.

By adopting the standard immediately, Garcia argues, SJPD could avoid what happened in Minneapolis, where multiple cops watched Officer Derek Chauvin kneel on Floyd’s neck until his dying breath eight minutes later. “I am issuing a department-wide order with this language in it,” the chief explained, “and will speak with every officer in my command to reinforce the moral imperative of following this law.”

Though he already banned chokeholds years ago, Garcia says he’ll revise the proscription to expressly state that it applies to knee-on-neck contact as well.

The memo goes on to say that SJPD will put officers through additional training on facilitating peaceful protests and media access (that last pledge comes in response to officers detaining two reporters on the first day of a blunderous citywide curfew).

One of the final prescriptions relates to SJPD’s use of riot guns, which fire off rubber baton rounds (colloquially known as rubber bullets) and left numerous protesters bloodied and battered since the Floyd demonstrations kicked off on May 29.

The Garcia memo states: “Effective immediately in crowd control situations, when addressing agitators within a crowd, projectile impact weapons will only be used in situations where a person is actively attacking an officer or another person or when an armed agitator poses a threat to officers or other peaceful protesters.”

That would change existing policy almost imperceptibly.

Basically, it would update Section L 2629.5 in the SJPD duty manual to take away officers’ ability to use riot guns in response to property damage, and only allow them if there’s a threat to someone’s personal safety.

The chief ends his memo by pledging to prevent officers fired for misconduct from being hired elsewhere, and by affirming his own willingness to do better.

“Our dedication to continuous improvement did not start today and it will be ongoing,” he wrote. “We have never been afraid of criticism or shied away from better ways of doing our difficult job. We will continue to be thoughtful in our approach and move swiftly where needed. This department’s love for our community is unwavering and will be the foundation from which we build a bridge through these difficult times.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

18 Comments

  1. Too little too late comes to mind after reviewing “promises” from the Cheif of SJPD. Reactionary at best to head off Tuesday’s Council Meeting. I’m not hearing getting rid of Riot Guns or Riot Gear. I’m not hearing needed Bias and Tolerance Training as a priority.

    We need to de-militarize our officers when it comes to public displays of protest by the citizens. Several Civil Rights violations by the police we’re video recorded and published on Twitter and elsewhere. I just don’t see an earnest response in police reform by the “Mayor” or his Chief of Police. Systemic change throughout our government needs to happen. Never, never, again should the public be put down like animals. The police need to be with us or against us.

    They are not Washington D.C. political goons and puppets to be governed by a Nero in the White House. Use Common sense, as we are the “People” not the enemy. We have the right to protest in order to show grievance with our elected leaders or our public safety officers and police.

    Sunnyvale, unlike San Jose, uses Public Safety Officers. That is they do both the jobs of a Fire Fighter and Police Officer. The same person rotates between jobs. It seems to me the more a person saves lives like Fire Personal do, then while policing they may be more empathetic to the people they serve and protect.

  2. “the police we’re video recorded” Please change we’re To were. Also, “ The police need to be with us or against us.” Chang or against us to not against us.
    Thank you.

  3. Jennifer, I think you (and other posters on here) should go on a ride along on the East Side on a Friday night. Or perhaps attend some of the P.D.’s training like active shooter, or in their “sim” room like reporters have done in the past. Everyone i have ever spoke too who attended such events came away with a totally different view of the world. Perhaps the P.D. should open more of those things to the Public? Perhaps the Public needs more training on how to behave in a civilized society?

    • Work90, I’m not the sheltered suburbanite you must think I am. I grew up in the Balkans amid war zones and ethnic conflicts. More recently, I *have* actually participated in simulated active-shooter training. I’m no stranger to gunmanship, having learned to shoot around the same time I began learning piano, w/my brothers, one of whom became a Marine scout sniper. Finally, East Side—where I’ve lived for the past eight years—doesn’t faze me.

      • What do you mean by “grew up in the Balkans”? You were there as a child, or you were there as a young reporter on assignment?

      • Jennifer,

        Did you participate in active shooter as a “cop” or in some other capacity? Personally I don’t think simply living on the East Side is anywhere near the same as being a cop and going to 911 calls on the East side. So have you been on a ride along and gone to 911 calls before?

          • Yes, the active shooter training cast me, the trainee, as a cop. Yes, I’ve been on multiple ridealongs in multiple cities. Yes, those ridealongs involved responding to 9-1-1 calls.

          • I find that very interesting. With that in mind I am curious as to why you went to “gunmanship” in your response rather than “deescalation”. Gunmanship is an etremely minimal part of Policing and was certinaly not refered to in your article or our conversation. Is “gunmanship” what you came away from the training with? What you think of police work as? That could explain a lot.

    • > Perhaps the Public needs more training on how to behave in a civilized society?

      True dat.

      My estimate is that only about thirty percent of the world’s population is functionally and emotionally “civilized”. And the U.S. is really not much different.

      A civilized society is based on production and trade, which require markets and private property. and trust and reciprocity. Bottom line: civilization is capitalism.

      I base my estimate on the number of people who win large amounts of money in lotteries and then blow through it in short order. Roughly seventy percent of lottery winners are bankrupt after three years.

      This tells me that seventy percent of people think only in terms of present consumption and are incapable of anticipating and planning for their futures. They are “hunter-gatherers” and not “civilized” producers.

      The number of “civilized” producers increased form zero percent of the population to thirty percent in the last 14,000 years (since the last ice age). But we could definitetly use more civilization.

      Hopefully, in the next 14,000 years we’ll get the number of people engaged in civilization up to seventy percent.

  4. Very sad that San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia is justifying this “Bad Behavior” by his officers during the George Floyd protesting.

    Please see Videos below of the 5/29 protest….

    Please also take a look at a Video from several days later when a SJPD Captain that was in charge pushed a women almost to the ground that was protesting police brutality.

    I have been reviewing all of my footage and I have hundreds of videos of officer misconduct by the San Jose Police Department.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzB7ZIebjus&t=763s

  5. Video of San Jose Police Captain (In charge of the scene / highest ranking officer there) pushing a women protesting police misconduct.

    Filmed on 06/01/2020

    What are you going to do about this Garcia?? Sam?? David?? Anyone?? Bueller??

    Time to start firing these bad apples….

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXYehYP_VjY

    • > pushing a women protesting police misconduct.

      A nothing burger.

      The woman rushed the cop. The cop protected himself.

      The “police misconduct” narrative — or at least this instance of it — is right out of the hymnal of the “antiracism cult”.

      Since we are likely in for an onslaught of malignant ideological warfare, it’s probably a good idea to brief yourselves on the battlefield terrain and learn what to expect in the way of the adversary’s likely attacks.:

      It’s useful to understand “Critical Race Theory” and the significance of the “antiracism cult”.

      James Lindsay offers a concise explanation:

      https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1269289604643008513.html

      If you were yearning for a re-run or a retrospective of Jim Jones’ infamous “People’s Temple” cult, the “antiracism cult” will probably give you a sense of “deja vu”.

    • That woman should have gone to jail for assaulting an officer. In my opinion she’s lucky the cop didn’t arrest her on the spot. You and I see the world very differently Scott.

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