Police Chief Selection Causes Mixed Reaction

With word that Chris Moore will shed the interim tag to become the permanent chief of police in San Jose—he was reportedly selected by City Manager Debra Figone over Oakland chief Anthony Batts—reactions are as varied as they are passionate.

Jim Unland, Vice President of the San Jose Police Officer’s Association, said if Moore is in fact the next chief of police, Figone made a great choice.

“Chris Moore is a star, so if he is the pick, yeah, we’ll be very happy about that,” Unland said. “Quite frankly, as the community gets to know him better they’re going to be real impressed with him.”

Moore, 49, has been with SJPD for 26 years and has worked in nearly every division of the department while being groomed to become chief by the recently retired Rob Davis. Figone will be informing the City Council of her selection in a closed session Monday, and the council would have to ratify her decision with at least six votes out of 10 in favor.

Not everyone seems to be quite so happy, though.

Several ethnic community groups held a joint press conference Friday at Silicon Valley DeBug’s office on Lenzen Avenue and called on the council to veto Figone’s selection, if it is in fact Moore.

“We want to send a message to the City Council, Mayor Chuck Reed and ask that they re-open the process next week,” said Richard Konda, executive director of the Asian Law Alliance and DeBug’s chairperson. “Moore’s been here a while but most of us haven’t had any contact with him.”

Walter Wilson, who was representing the NAACP and the African American Community Services Center at Friday’s presser, said Figone failed to follow-through on her pledge to accept the information she was given at forums voicing the concerns of minority groups. Wilson added, however, that Moore “deserved credit” for steps he has taken as interim chief.

San Jose Councilmember Pete Constant said he understands not everyone will be happy with Figone’s decision, but he added she has gone “above and beyond the call of duty” in getting community input.

“Their job is to help inform the decision, not make it,” Constant said.

While Moore has yet to comment on the situation, Batts took a defiant tone in his first interview since it was announced he was trying to leave Oakland just a year into a three-year deal.

“This police department is underfunded and is in need of the very basics to get the job done,” Batts said according to the Oakland Tribune, which also reported that Batts wanted to be quoted by name alone, not as the chief of police. Outrage over Batts’ attitude has resulted in restrained headlines such as this.

Here in San Jose, though, the attitude is one of optimism now that the process appears to be near completion. Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold offers praise for Figone’s selection. It shouldn’t be long until he offers a new column with his keys to success.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. Richard Konda, Raj Jayadev et al; please get a life.
    To Eric Johnson, editor of SJI; please don’t fall into the trap of what makes the Mercury so lacking in credibility. That is providing a one-sided drumbeat of all that is wrong with the SJPD. They do an awful lot very well with not very many resources. I have noticed that Josh Koehn has similiar rants as Sean Webby. Please ask someone from the other side to present another view. I am sure you could find somebody from the POA that would be willing. It would just keep SJI credible and filling the void that the Mercury abandoned.

    • Steve,
        When I saw a weekend TV newscast about a group of “community leaders” protesting Moore’s appointment I just about fell out of my chair.
        The “community leaders” in their story were Raj and the usual handful of complainers. (“Community leaders?” Give me a break! Who do these people speak for beside themselves?)
        By now we expect the Merc, with it’s anti-police agenda, to elevate any whack job with a grievance to “community leader” status, but it’s disappointing to see such shoddy reporting elsewhere.
          Other than Raj (non-whites only need apply) and maybe the job-hopping Anthony Batts himself, is there anyone who doesn’t support Moore’s selection? If so I would like to hear some valid reasons for opposing Moore. The candidate’s race, by the way, is not a valid reason.

  2. “…Richard Konda, executive director of the Asian Law Alliance and DeBug’s chairperson. “Moore’s been here a while but most of us haven’t had any contact with him.”

    This is a blatant untruth. Raj Jayadev, AND Richard Konda were at the last American Leadership Forum (ALF) community meeting AND Konda sat on a panel with Chief Moore discussing Community Policing. Chief Moore has participated in EVERY forum held by ALF, and co-sponsored by De Bug and the Asian Law Alliance!

    Also, Raj was invited to meet with Chief Moore, and knows full well that Chief Moore publicly stated that he would be more than happy to meet and work with Raj, AND ANY group wanting to meet with him.

    WOW! Unbelievable!

    • Unfortunately as a person of color myself I find myself almost always being on the other side of an issue than these so-called community leaders.  They’re self appointed and self proclaimed community voices.  They claim to represent the voice of the people yet to quote Konda “most of us haven’t had any contact with them (sic)” 

      Most of the people of San Jose want less crime and safer streets.  That has nothing to do with color or race.  Being born and raised in the Eastside I am fully aware that most crime there is perpetrated by people of color.  I never had made the jump that all people of color are criminals.  Never in all my years living on the eastside have I been harrassed, profiled or unjustly treated by police yet I have very brown skin.  Its not my skin that would alert the cops but the gang attire and posturing that many of these “profiling victims” embrace. 

      Good choice Figone.  Congratulations Chief Moore.

    • Thank you Kathleen,

      I was just going to make the same comment.  These guys are flat out lying.  The funny thing is, Moore is much more likely to make the changes these groups have asked for than Batts would be.  It’s super sad that the two of them are acting so irresponsibly as so called community leaders.

      • Steve said, “The funny thing is, Moore is much more likely to make the changes these groups have asked for than Batts would be.”

        That is 100% correct. Chief Moore is participating in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Association’s yearlong community meeting series beginning in March.

        These forums are going to be covering everything from shootings in the Vietnamese community, bullying, gang violence and prevention, mental health issues, to the DA’s Office giving a presentation on how and why they prosecute certain citizens, AND Officers involved in shootings cases, and why they don’t prosecute others.

        I have great respect for Chief Moore because he is willing to take on these community concerns in a public forum and provide feedback, and an explanation on Police practices, and training. To my knowledge, no other Police Chief has ever been as willing and open to discuss these issues as Chief Moore.

        For these groups to base their decision of his qualifications as Chief of Police on his race, and because he “isn’t an outsider,” is just plain ignorant and bigoted. It is also hypocritical because when the City and ALF held forums on what qualities the new IPA/Police Chief should have, these groups were up in arms when it was suggested that someone outside of San Jose be brought in! I wish they make up their minds already.

        I must say I’m very proud of the Mayor and Council for refusing to cave into their outrageous demands to re-open the hiring process, and dump Chief Moore for someone these so-called minority groups approve of. I know that there are very valid reasons to choose Moore over Batts, and so do these activists!

  3. Seems to me that, for those interested in reading between the lines of what Jayadev and Konda have said, it’s ok to be a racist as long as it’s not toward ‘people of color’. A few days ago, the Mercury News quoted Raj, “It’s symbolic, an indication that the city is realizing we are a minority-majority city and that they take issues of race as important. Nothing against Moore, but it would be a bad indication in 2011 to have another white man.’‘

    To me, as a person who is of bi-racial descent, I have to wonder when Raj and company will start looking at the qualifications a person might possess making him or her suitable for a given position. I have to wonder when, for Raj and company, content of character will matter more than race and when Raj and company will start trying to genuinely work towards Rev. King’s dream as opposed to building their success on the politics of race-baiting and division.

    • When Raj is quoted as saying San Jose is a “minority-majority city,” he is entirely correct, and this has been the case since the US Census of 1990.  But he and some commenters here think that the word “minority” means “helpless victims,” instead of “less than 50%” which is what it means.

      What it means for San Jose is that by numbers, the Hispanic-, Asian-, and European-American communities are equal in size, that each one contains about 30% of the population of the city.

      But this doesn’t mean a person of color automatically qualifies over a person of white.  It seems to the MWC that the question is:  Can a black or yellow or white or brown candidate for a position work with his or her own demographic, and equally well with the remaining two large demographics, as well with the remaining small demographics.  There is no guarantee that an African-American police chief would work well with Latinos or Asians, Raj notwithstanding.  It is not something to take on faith.

      The same misunderstanding applies to teachers.  Right now the Silicon Valley Education Foundation is advocating the replacement of white teachers to make the face of the future teacher match the face of the students.  But how does one document that a person from X demographic necessarily teaches better than a person from Y or Z demographic when the classroom is made up of all X, Y, and Z?  The assumption that people of color will automatically teach people of color better than a person of white is an open question, and would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis.  Likewise, police chiefs.

  4. > To me, as a person who is of bi-racial descent, I have to wonder when Raj and company will start looking at the qualifications a person might possess making him or her suitable for a given position.

    Good question.

    Let me take a stab at answering it.

    Thinking… Thinking… Thinking…

    OK.  I have an answer:


  5. The Police Chief selection process clearly shows that 2 different standards were used to select the final 2 candidates – a higher standard for 1 candidate and lower standard that ignored serious disqualificatng or illegal behavior for other

    Many self proclaimed community leaders while claiming to represent diverse communities were
    – unaware of serious disqualifying behavior or illegal of 1 candidate
    – or think that it is ok to use different lower behavior standards for candidates of color

    Mercury, Metro, TV and radio stations are either

    – unaware of past alledged illegal behavior
    – chose to ignore past behavior that normally would be part of public and media discussion of any candidate for Police Chief

    What this media non disclosure another example of sloppy journalist, another purposeful lapse of journalist ethics or media decision to apply double standard ?

    Accusations of racism in view of many San Jose residents are frequently used to stifle community discussions about important issue without looking at is racism actually involved are the accusers themselves racists and trying to prevent needed community discussion

    Why has there not been a fully discussion of complete backgrounds of both Police Chief candidates, reason for non selection of 1 candidate or does political correctness and possible accusations of racism by community activists prevent public community discussion ?

  6. Apparently no one at City Hall bothered to check Police Chief background by doing a simple Google search until last week

    Or did they check but still put him in as finalist for Police Chief’s job or knowing he had a fatal flaw that would cause him to be unacceptable to San Jose and their finalist was the choice

  7. I didn’t have a horse in this race but the drawn-out process suggests that the biggest knock against Moore was that he was white. Now that it’s 2011 maybe we can start to get over this.

    We’re still going to have community policing issues but Moore has shown he can take commitments to the complete community seriously.

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