Nighttime Public Meeting on Police Issues

The Public Safety, Finance and Strategic Support Committee, which I sit on, had a special meeting last Wednesday night. Usually, this committee meets during the day. This special meeting was being sponsored by the Independent Police Auditor (IPA) and the City Council stemming from the alleged racial profiling arrests Downtown for pubic intoxication. This is one of two meetings to be held at night to elicit public opinion about our police force. The next one will be spring 2010.
 
The city manager briefed the audience on the background of what San Jose has been doing to address this issue like police training, working with La Raza Round table and the Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity (CPLE) initiative to study our police force by an academic nature. Also, a new revised citizen complaint process is being worked on by Police Internal Affairs and the IPA. Finally, he described a pilot project with the Taser company for their new product called Axon which is a small camera that police would wear and turn on while arresting individuals.
 
A card was given out to each speaker that had three questions:
 
1. What reactions do you have to City efforts to date?
2. What ideas do you have to address policing issues?
3. What do you want to know about police services?
 
Here are some quotes from speakers at the meeting:
 
Question 1:
Kathleen:
Proud that we have looked at all sides of the issue, however city leaving out people that support the police and victims rights groups.
 
Scott:
It is night and day compared to where we were in 2008. It is positive and the vibe Downtown is good.

Thought 2008 was a PR black eye for Downtown. Sean Webby did good reporting. Chief Davis moved on recommendations from the Intoxication Task-force.
 
Gentleman from Church Ministry:
Positive viewpoint of police.
 
Kathy:
Mentally ill woman spoke and made no sense. (She is a regular speaker at Council meeting who introduces herself as the US President.)
 
 
David:
Appreciates the efforts. Felt that meetings should be held throughout city instead of city hall.
 
Raj:
Wanted to applaud city mgr and police with improvements on reducing the arrest rate. We still have a way to go like what is the underlying causes between community and police. Get to true community policing. Would like to see city drop Tasers. Look at other arrests other than drunk in public.
 
Bob:
Not a finger pointer. Feels that some are still pointing fingers at police and that they should communicate and be constructive. Proud of police dept.
 
Question 2:
 
Kathleen:
Hire more police officers as they are tired and overworked. Downtown bars need to be more accountable for who they bring to town. Victims rights advocates should be part of every committee. IPA should disclose who they collaborate with since some groups are not viewed as neutral.
 
Scott:
Constructive conversation is bringing community policing more into alignment.
Downtown Assoc stayed in the conversation with the Intoxication task force and did not walk out like other groups.
Need to keep training up as new people and business come to downtown.
 
Issa:
Too bad city waited ‘till it was a problem. Son’s car was searched without a need. Disappointed with Chief on his meeting with him. Would like police to use consent forms when doing cars searches. He himself was searched at Starbucks by police. Consent forms for searches his priority.

David:
Friends in minority groups fear that police is not representative of the population.  In SF the police are recruiting at street fair parties. San Jose should do the same and recruit police that are more like the population of the city.
 
Teresa:
Husband hit by car on The Alameda and helped by police officer home. Good example of community policing.  Community policing helps rid negative connotation of police. Highlight positive experiences. Police should have longer terms in the neighborhood. More training on dealing with individuals with mental illness. More access to public records.
 
Question 3:
 
Kathy2:
Commend the city of San Jose for addressing this issue head on. Concern with early intervention workplan. How would the city identify the officers and how often. Represents the NAACP.

Kathleen:
What is being done to involve citizens in community policing? Neighborhood watch and crime prevention are great programs. What is happening to bring youth and police together? More peer counseling where youth would shame others youth from doing bad things.
 
Open Forum:
 
Christian:
Disappointed with IPA choices on collaboration with groups that are not neutral. Include victims rights advocates.
 
David:
Human rights commission is made up of 13 community members. Rep from IPA and Police attend the meetings. If you want to make a complaint then coming to the human rights commission is a good place to do it. Likes Citizens Police Academy and feels city should do more. Also thinks the city should fund human rights commission to do outreach.
 
Kathy:
Said we were stealing her body parts. Illegal immigrants are stealing our jobs. Council should be charged with embezzlement. The Fairmont Hotel is my hotel and you have not paid me for it yet.
 
Kathleen:
Thinks there should be more outreach to neighborhoods (all neighborhoods) police do a great job and have caught many of the murderer’s who killed in San Jose. Vigil for police will be an annual event honoring our police.
 
Issa:
Supports the police. To support it is to help improve it. Take the time to ask police in other cities about consent forms for searches.
 
Francisco:
(With New Harvest Christian Fellowship) Did not hear about solutions that attack the problem at hand to become more productive citizens. Churches offer programs like a 12 step program with drug and alcohol abuse. We have a family outreach and intervention program that collaborates with 45 business to have a community event. Invited the police however did not attend/support (unclear).
 
Bobby:
Include the police officers, the Police Officers Association. spoke to 200 youth about opportunities. Sat down with Raj and ACLU to talk and listen. The POA is available to help. Willing to attend the Human Rights commission. Straight Talk.
 
Paul:
Support the committee’s work. Best city council that we have had in a long time. Sometimes the police are asked to change but are not part of the change; agree with Bobby. Otherwise police get squeezed in the middle. Overall doing a good job since your trying.

On a separate issue and with much sadness but happiness for him and his family, Jim Helmer, the Director of Transportation, retired from the City of San Jose. I personally enjoyed serving with Jim and his supporting team whose main concern is safety for pedestrians and drivers. He will be missed. But have no fear as our new director is Hans Larsen who has a great background and is very capable.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

15 Comments

  1. I believe Kathy had the clearest points of all.  She is more than qualified to be a high ranking city official!

  2. What an incredible waste of time and money for a non issue. Where is the mention of studying the behavior of those getting arrested, rather than assuming the officers are doing something wrong? Political correctness gone crazy. Our officers do a great job, too bad there are about 500 too few of them though.

  3. Gosh, I sure do miss that s**t disturber, Raj… Not!  Wondering if SJI removed him from the list of active columnists.

  4. PO,
    Wow! Are these notes rather short and incomplete! One major correction, Christian and I asked that the IPA’s Office be subject to more accountability and sunshine because THEY, the IPA, has not, nor are they being neutral. They have collaborated with anti-Police groups on a regular basis for many years now and that needs to stop. That the IPA has never collaborated with victim rights advocates or pro-Police groups.

    This was the very first time I’ve attended a meeting on this issue where the majority of speakers were pro Police. Secondly, I found it very odd that Bobby of the POA disclosed meeting with Raj, and Skyler of the ACLU, but that Raj has kept that a secret. I wonder why? Does he want everyone to keep thinking the POA is not willing to work with anti-Police groups?

    And Steve is correct. It is time to look at the real problem. People getting arrested aren’t getting arrested for no reason~

  5. Kathleen Said:

    “This was the very first time I’ve attended a meeting on this issue where the majority of speakers were pro Police”.

    Maybe everyone is sick on meetings on the issue of the police and downtown.  The police are not much to be prowd of in downtown.  yes the police are needed and do a dangerous thankless job; but in terms of downtown, thier policies and procedures are just wrong. 

    They deter many more good poeple and in some odd way attract a bunch of lowlifes to square off agianst them every weekend night.

    This issue has had so many meetings; seems the city, as usual, is going to force endless meetings until opposition stops coming.  Then declare their is not a problem.

    • I agree 100%! The City has spent too much time, money, and resources on this issue and not enough time on why these folks being arrested aren’t held accountable for their actions that result in arrests, nor have they heard enough from people who boycott downtown thanks to the rowdies down there. In the Council Meeting last night, one man testified that just this past weekend his friend took his family DT and was beaten senseless by 12 guys, right in front of his family. I guess the Police are to blame for that too huh?

      My understanding of why Raj stood alone in the special meeting last week had to do with the fact that his and the ACLU’s out reach to his usual supporters went ignored. But that didn’t stop Raj, or his followers from using the horrific death of the Pham family’s son to further his/their cause in last nights meeting on opening Police records. I guess the term re-victimization is a foreign one to him and his followers. Very sad indeed the lengths some will go to, to get their way.

      When the Pham family has to face the upcoming pain of the media blitz about their mentally ill son slitting his brother’s throat which resulted in an Officer assist 911 call by the FAMILY, and the behaviors he displayed that got him killed, when the 911 tape is finally released, I don’t think they’ll be too happy with the public’s reaction to their son, or them. Some of the comments on the Mercury News comment section when the story first came out were hurtful, unkind, and far from compassionate concerning the Pham’s son. There’s a good reason for the saying, “You better be careful what you ask for or you just might get it.”

      I applaud the Mayor and the majority of the Council for FINALLY putting the rights of victims and witnesses FIRST for once! BRAVO! It is about time!

      • I wanted to add one very important comment, I am deeply sorry for the loss the Pham family has suffered. They are in my thoughts and prayers. May God watch over them, their family, and friends in the coming months.

        May Daniel rest in peace. May his death not be in vain. My hope is that our State, City, and County increase funding and resources for those who suffer from mental illness so that needless suffering like this comes to an end. 

        My thoughts and prayers are also with the Officer/Officers that were involved in this shooting. I can’t imagine their pain either. May God watch over them as well.

      • Raj is no longer relevant and his attempt to become a recognized and respected activist has been met only with contempt and disgust.  He really ought to move on to a new locale, change his name and start all over.

  6. I do feel that Kathleen and Christian are examples of activists whether you agree with them or not, try to work for a better community.  There are also people out there critical of the police who need to be heard.  Well, I guess San Jose has one better on us.  All we received in Santa Clara, when some of us tried to work for slur free society was Steve Hazel saying that Jed York’s birthday is the day where people die and the stock market tanks, and then he boasts about the death of attorneys as his doing a supreme being.  Whether I think JMOC or Peter Campbell, or John Galt, are people that I agree with, I do commend them for one thing, their sense of community.  It is said that our council meetings in Santa Clara are held hostage by a nut in a flannel shirt claiming to be God.  Campbell, for all the things we have said, is at least trying to achieve a better San Jose, as is Warner, as is 90% of the bloggers here.  Too bad we have few mental health facilities, this guy, Hazelnut belongs there.  He even boasted about people machine gunning cops, and some of the leaders of the anti stadium and controlled development groups encourage him and give him support.  I have come to the conclusion that despite anything else, Peter, Steve, and a lot of other people who post here are part of the solution as are others.  We just hope in the Mission City we can find a solution to the problem.

  7. That was an interesting and entertaining post by the council member.  I haven’t been to a City Council meeting in years, let alone sat through the crush of public comment on a “hot issue” but I kind of felt like I was there.  Was the guy with the roller skates there?

    About the subject matter, I have a lot of experience having lived downtown for an extended period.  I made a point of visiting downtown on a few occasions this summer and fall, and noticed some marked changes from past practices.

    At one point, cruising was a big deal on Santa Clara Street, and now its not.  At one period of time, the enforcement tool of choice was to force everyone into there cars and out of downtown onto the freeways at closing time (blocking streets and waving everyone toward on-ramps.)  This is no longer done.  At some times, police would mass outside a particular club at closing to move crowds into smaller groups and avoid the “flash point” that occurs when drunk losers try to look tough for the girls outside the club when its there last shot at not going home alone.  This worked well, but I noticed it was only targeted at certain shows or venues with certain crowds (racially unintegrated.)

    I noticed downtown is still largely segregated, with ethnic groups self-selected for certain venues or music types.  I noticed that drunks still walk, drive and bike the streets from early evening until last call, but not in overwhelming numbers such as sometimes occured in the past.  I noticed enforcement occurs (I saw a yuppie couple getting cuffed and since there was no car and both were fall-down drunk, I commented that it was our ‘affirmative action arrest for the night’ to a friend, which is probably unfair.)  I noticed that as a result of factors unrelated to the police, the overall activity level downtown is diminished.  I suspect this has to do with the economy and greater awareness of the damage that binge drinking and drug use cause in our increasingly health conscious society.

    In terms of enforcement, this summer I saw foot patrols and positive interactions between officers and half-drunk people who were given simple guidance (your alright if you let your friend drive, just stay in the car and you won’t get in trouble) that seemed to be well received by the carload of ethnically diverse people who were clearly loaded on alcohol and other substances.

    I liked having uniformed officers enter the clubs under the old system where off-duty uniformed officers were required to be hired as private security for clubs as a condition of their use permits.  I did not like the implicit “private/public” blurring of the lines of who they were protecting when on the payroll of club owners.

    My only suggestion is that outside of that foot patrol this past summer, I haven’t seen any foot patrol officers during Friday and Saturday nights this fall.  I kind of believe in the community policing stuff and think having officers freely wander in and out of clubs and around the streets would do more to deter “Club Wet” style violence and also make everyone who isn’t looking for trouble feel more welcome and safe.

    As far as random, non-consensual searches, how about some old school DUI checkpoints once or twice a month around downtown corridors?  Since everyone would be equally treated to examination by officers, it seems fair and would probably do more in terms of restricting peoples behavior (driving drunk and/or carrying weapons/drugs on their person or in their vehicles) than random enforcement.  I’d also suggest running through the city garages and streets and running plates through the NCIC for warrant/parole/probation checks and zeroing in on potential troublemakers long before closing time.

    And my final recommendation, which I hate to make, is network all the cameras in downtown and provide the recordings to both the police and police auditor so that enforcement (and trouble) is tracked.  If the police don’t already capture that video streams from traffic and other cameras, I’m sure they could do so easily with a little high-tech investment.  It’d be important that the police auditor and other non-biased observers also be able to review the footage (and that we don’t end up with some Nixon style missing 13 minutes that some flunky at the DA has under seal pending an investigation.)  Let’s post the cameras to the web so anyone can tap into them to check out the nightlife action (cloud computing and social networking merged into a new form of democratic engagement.)

    I vote for a web cams at SoFA, Santa Clara & 3rd, San Fernando and 2nd, San Pedro Square.

    • Steve,
      Thank you for your kind words. Victim’s rights have never been considered important. Anti-Police groups have yet to produce the names or badge numbers of these supposed taser/trigger happy, racist, murdering Police Officers. Protests against the Police and claims of racism, and the civil rights of offenders have always taken precedence over the abuse of victims/witnesses rights to privacy, and protections under the law. I plan on changing that.

      I hope those of you who agree with me will start attending Council Meetings or writing your Representatives demanding that they stop caving into groups who put the rights of victims and witnesses secondary, or not at all, to further their own agendas. The press wants to sell ad space and newspapers so they hold a big hammer guised with “the public’s right to know,” and the First Amendment over elected heads and many times succeed at the cost of innocent people’s privacy, reputations, and yes, even their lives.

      This irresponsible behavior of the media needs to stop, and the press really needs to be held accountable. Stop buying their magazines, newspapers, watching their TV stations, and listening to their radio stations until they start acting in the “best interest of the public,” with honesty and integrity.

      I also hope you will join me next summer for the 2nd annual candle lit vigil I will be holding at City Hall. Victims of violent crime need to know they are not alone, and that their community supports them. Have a great weekend.