Should San Jose Hire Chris Moore?

San Jose City Manager Debra Figone has not yet made a decision as to who will be the city’s next police chief. As the evaluation process goes on, more and more positive stories are coming out about acting chief Chris Moore.

In a recent letter to the Mercury News, Luciano Aldana of San Jose shared the following. “I worked under him in the 1990s. Chris isn’t arrogant, egotistic, dogmatic, nor a cult-of-personality type. He is honest, pragmatic, down-to-earth, fair and objective….he’d do an excellent job when interacting with community and police personnel during times of crisis.”

San Jose attorney Donald Kilmer went to law school with Chris Moore. Kilmer, a civil rights lawyer who has prosecuted police misconduct cases against the City of San Jose says “Chris Moore’s commitment to law and order, the Constitution and the City of San Jose, makes him an obvious choice to lead the city’s police department.”

Chris Moore is considered an international expert in police ethics. Moore was awarded a Fulbright Police Research Fellowship, was a White House Fellow, holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, and a law degree. He has served as a street cop, an undercover cop, and worked as a commander in Internal Affairs.

The San Jose Police Department is not a perfect organization. However, the department must be doing something right given San Jose’s perennial ranking as one of America’s safest big cities.

On Nov. 8, the Merc reported that many believe City Manager Figone is “leaning toward picking a candidate from outside the department.” But why look outside of the city when you already have someone with such an impressive resume and strong background?

The citizens of San Jose have already received a hint as to the kind of leader Chris Moore would be. One of Moore’s first decisions as acting chief was to promote Diane Urban to assistant chief, making her the first woman to hold the rank in San Jose history.

Someday, Chris Moore will make a great chief of police for some city. Let’s hope that that time and place is here and now.


  1. The key phrase in Mr. Campbell’s piece is “more and more positive stories are coming out about acting chief Chris Moore.”

    The man works in the most scrutinized occupation in government (under the watchful eyes of three levels of government, the news media, activist groups, etc.), has for years served near the top of the police department, has worked side-by-side with hundreds of coworkers, and has compiled a record of service that is easily examined, yet his fate will likely be determined by the utterances of a few dozen people in this town, many of them absolute scumbags, who’ve been granted the right to influence the public. Small wonder that everything has gone to hell.

    I don’t know a great deal about Chris Moore, but should Sean Webby or any of the other cancers at the Mercury News endorse him for chief, he’d lose more credibility in my eyes than if he’d made a pass at my 14 year-old daughter. Same thing should an endorsement come his way from Raj Jayadev or any of the other local racists of color. I know enough about what they stand for to understand that their friends are the enemies of fair government and the impartial application of the law.

    Chris Moore is described as “honest and pragmatic,” a man who’d “do an excellent job when interacting with community and police personnel during times of crisis.” Sounds good, though it seems to me, given the department’s record of service, that that would be an apt description of the vast majority of the men and women out there pushing beat cars everyday—the folks who deal in real time with crises involving life and death, as opposed to those of the political shitstorm variety typically bandied about for days at the command level.

    Acting Chief Moore is heralded as an expert on police ethics, a distinction garnered through his academic pursuits, but for my money the real experts are the officers out there on the street, who have to carry their ethics at-the-ready, who are tested during times good and bad, who spend most of their duty hours in the ethics-free areas of the city. These are the men and women whose ethics can be found in the record—in the department’s fine reputation, compiled despite working for commanders who practice an academic brand of ethics, one that makes it right to discriminate when promoting others, but never when promoting themselves. No one adorned in brass has ever considered stepping aside for another as “the right thing to do.”

    It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic, seeing how the qualities that inevitably “come out” about a favored police chief candidate are always those that are most representative of what exists at the street level of policing. The public hasn’t a clue as to their good fortune to have the quality of officers we have here in San Jose (and most of the Bay Area), just as they haven’t a clue as to the extent or depth of the incivility and viciousness of the worst of their fellow citizens (and undocumented lowlifes). Police chiefs don’t protect the public from anyone or anything other than the occasional bad cop; they serve politicians and themselves, and the best that can be said about the best of them is that they are 90% as honest and fair as are those serving under them.

    Mr. Campbell, there isn’t anything you could’ve written about this topic that would more reveal your ignorance about it than to have commended Chris Moore for his decision to promote Diane Urban. Having a first woman for this or that post is scant compensation for how this move might impact the officers under her command, and how it might properly be viewed by them as an endorsement of a host of corrosive personality traits. Ambition plus estrogen should not be confused as a formula for leadership—especially when coupled with a nasty temperament, a distasteful personality, and a scandalous personal life—traits that may well have been tempered decades ago had she been forced to mature and grow rather than been invited to promote and lead (solely because of her gender). Celebrating someone for factors decided while in the womb is a sound prescription for stunting their growth and development once out of it.

  2. Cops need leadership, not management.  A common thing I hear about ex chief Landsdown is “He was an old school cop”  I even heard stories of the guy hopping in squad cars during high speed chases.  He did this to supervise his officers, and make sure they didn’t do the wrong thing.

    I know of Mitch Handa through a bunch of mutual friends.  He was the range instructor for years, and another “Old school cop” as I hear other officers reminisce about him.

    Not sure if he’d take the job as he’s retired now, but worth looking into.

  3. Well Pete,

    Luciano Aldana certainly has nice things to say about Chris Moore. Only problem is I have no idea who Luciano Aldana is or whether I should give any weight to her opinion.
    Moore gets a glowing endorsement from Donald Kilmer, a “civil rights lawyer”. Is that supposed to be a good thing?
    Let’s see. What else. Oh. He has a Masters Degree. Oooh!
    He promoted a woman- that’s right, a woman- to be San Jose’s first female assistant chief. That sort of dovetails with the civil rights thing.

    I never heard of Chris Moore before but it sounds like what we have here is a classic ambitious career politician who knows just the right things to do and say to propel himself along his carefully designed career path.

    San Jose will continue to be a relatively safe, big City whether Chris Moore becomes permanent Chief or not. The relative quality of the Police Department has far less influence on this statistic than people seem to imagine. More importantly, will he preside over the police department of a fiscally sound safe city, or of a broke safe city?

  4. CM Figone wants Police Chief who is 100% loyal,  controlled by her, will do what there are told and will sell their soul for Police Chief’s job, not someone who is local, decent, fair, would work for community good and professionally present public safety issues and solutions

    Look at Figone’s other choices, her insiders and who she has pushed around, gotten rid of or retired

    Chris Moore would make a great Police Chief but unfortunately, IF Figone has her choice, not in San Jose

  5. Acting Police Chief Moore would make a fantastic Chief of Police. I have my paws crossed that he will be chosen to succeed Chief Davis. He is loved and respected by the community as well as his peers.

  6. Sounds like Acting Chief Moore is a stand-up guy and I wish him the best of luck in landing the assigment on a permanent basis.

    Just wondering… will Chris be asked to violate immigration laws, as the City seems prone to do?

  7. Adonna Amorosa was a Deputy Chief of Police.  Diane Urban is the Acting Assistant Chief. SJPD has one Chief, one Assistant Chief, and four Deputy Chiefs.

  8. Buck says two thumbs up for Moore.  Thats what this city needs “Moore” people like him.  Buck has met with Moore at several events recently.  Moore was very easy to approach and seemed to have the pulse of the troops, community and the needs of San Jose in hand.  What buck liked most was the ability for Moore to openly speak and speak from the heart. Buck having delt with many “four faces of eves” type of people hope that the City MGR considers Moore as a viable replacement for the out going guy, (Whats his name?) Buck has worked with new commanders in his history.  On average the new “GUY” takes a couple years just to figure out the members of his organization, community and gain trust by all.

  9. I think it would be fair to say that Chief Moore is one of the most respected members of the command staff and one of the few leaders at any level of San Jose’s government structure who is broadly respected by the rank and file. He is the only person I an think of whom most of us would generally agree that we want in a position of overall leadership of the police department.

    By contrast Debra Figone has to be the LEAST trusted person in city government by the rank and file. Most of us believe we’ve been lied to or deceived (directly or indirectly) by her. We believe that she talks out of both sides of her mouth and anything she says, is subject to intense scrutiny or verification before we would be inclined to believe her. Furthermore, I think most of us believe that we need a strong, fair, intelligent police chief not just for the purpose of leading us in what is arguably a most difficult line of work but also to protect us from the depredations of Debra Figone as she seeks further cuts to our budget, manpower, income and, ultimately, morale. We feel that she has been absolutely complicit in the current budget crisis and believe that she, and others in city government have worked together to perpetuate our budget boondoggles for the sole purpose of redirecting monies that should be used for core city services to pet projects and entitlements.

    Ultimately, I think that any person brought in as chief of police who is NOT Chris Moore will be faced with a nearly insurmountable degree of distrust and cynicism, due to the legitimate concern that he or she will be nothing more than another puppet, complicit in the ravaging of the Police Department. In fact, about the only thing worse for Department morale that Debra Figone could do other than hiring an outsider would be to promote either Phan Ngo or Dave Cavallaro to the position.

  10. Agree completely with OfficerD

    “Debra Figone has to be the LEAST trusted person in city government ” and many residents believe she has lied or deceived us directly or indirectly many times at public meetings and behind closed doors continues to talk and work against residents

    ” We believe that she talks out of both sides of her mouth and anything she says, is subject to intense scrutiny or verification before we would be inclined to believe her. ”

    ” We feel that she has been absolutely complicit in the current budget crisis and believe that she, and others in city government have worked together to perpetuate our budget boondoggles for the sole purpose of redirecting monies that should be used for core city services to pet projects and entitlements.” for special interest or political insiders

    Police Department policy, staffing and budget is run out of City Manager Figone’s office She is not a friend of police officers, residents and is entirely responsible for very negative City Hall attitude in last 3 years

  11. JMC, honestly, I think you’d have to have masochistic tendencies or be incredibly committed to the PD to want the job of Chief of Police. When Davis was COP, he actually looked like a pretty young guy, and we watched as the rigors and stresses of the job appeared to visibly age him over the course of his tenure. It can’t be easy having to deal with ilk like Debra Figone, Raj Jayadev and other representatives of various entitlement organizations.

  12. What I want to know before I make up my mind is:

    —did Chris Moore ever participate in a police barricade of MACSA headquarters and yell “Come out you dirty rat” with a bullhorn?

    I want an “old school” police chief.

  13. I agree with everything BS Monitor wrote.  With regard to Chris Moore, I know him and I do not believe he will make a good chief.  He is extremely ARROGANT and he always seem to think that he is the smartest guy in the room.  He got to where he is because he knows how to take tests, which is one of two requirements to get promoted (the other requirement is to kiss up to your superiors).   
        I do not doubt that Moore is smart.  However, being smart does not make you a good chief.  A good example here is Rob Davis.  I rather Figone picks someone from the outside.  However, if she chooses to promote from within, Chris Moore is NOT THE ONE………….!

    • well, we ceratinly have a wide spectrum of opinion—some folks love Mr. Moore and others hate him.  Ya just can’t please everyone, I guess.

      But as OfficerD notes—why would any sane person want the job?

    • I have had the opportunity to work around Chief Moore and I have to disagree wholeheartedly.  Chief Davis very much believed, and projected, an attitude of superiority.  Davis always believed that nobody could possibly come up with an idea as good as his and if you did, your career was over.  Chris Moore on the other hand has always welcomed input from everyone around him.  He is smart, but I have seen him welcome other opinions and have watched him change his when a better argument has been stated.

  14. Having just read today’s paper, suddenly I have some hard evidence as to the type of police chief we could expect Chris Moore to be. Looks like my initial misgivings were well justified.

    Moore decided that impounding the cars of unlicensed, illegal aliens who have been pulled over for traffic violations, creates too much hardship and expense for this privileged class of people. I can see now why he is so popular among the “civil rights” lawyers.

    So I have to keep wondering. Why should we reward the members of the SJPD with big salaries and benefits when that organization is clearly unwilling to do the job that we’re paying them to do?

    • JG, I and many other officer – most, I suspect – are firmly in agreement with you. If it were merely a manpower issue, I might understand it. But it isn’t. That’s just rationalization. The reality is that it’s pandering to advocates for illegal immigrants. And, it pisses me off. And, guess what? I’m Hispanic too.

      Don’t begin to think that this is a policy the organization as a whole supports. And, don’t use this as a rationale for why we shouldn’t earn what we do. Impounding cars driven by unlicensed drivers is just one aspect of a very complicated, often dangerous job.

    • JG:

      Why is it you seem to resent SJPD so much? Is it SJPD or simply police, maybe authority in general? You are becoming the Webby of SJI.

  15. And as I said before, he appears to be an ambitious political operator who will do what it takes to advance his own career. I’m sure he calculated that this pandering move will be seen by Ms. Figone as a feather in his cap, and may just do the trick as far as securing his job as police chief.

    • Don’t blame the Chief John. He’s only following orders.

      I think the time has come for our government to stop making special concessions for illegal immigrants, and change immigration laws so that they can become LEGAL citizens. It is unjust and unfair to LEGAL immigrants and American born citizens, who follow the law, to see these types of exceptions made for illegal immigrants. Using the race card seems to be the new in thing and politicians are caving into the pressure to ensure votes, and to avoiding law suites.

      The simple truth is that illegals always find ways around following the same laws the rest of us do. Below is a quote from the Merc: 

      “Many buy cheap cars, according to police, and when they lose them to the impound, they buy another.”

      It really disturbs me that instead of changing laws so that these folks can be here legally, they are given a pass to following the law like the rest of us have to.

      We are sending the wrong message to our youth, and we are losing site of what made our country great. I am disgusted that our elected officials are asking/forcing our Police Officers to turn a blind eye, and a deaf ear to lawbreakers, instead of taking this issue by the horns and reforming the law.

      What is the point of having laws if you aren’t going to enforce them equally?

  16. Well lookee here. Chris Moore is NOT standing up for the officer that Ms. Figone wants to fire for his role in the Phuong Ho incident.
    I’m shocked. Shocked!