Coto Calls for Investigation of SJPD

Assemblyman Joe Coto (D-San Jose) isn’t happy with what he’s been reading about the SJPD in the news recently. Joined by Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), he is calling on State Auditor Elaine Howle to investigate San Jose’s police force.

Among his concerns—whether policemen are properly trained, and whether the department does enough when faced with complaints about the use of excessive force. 

Coto’s decision surprised Mayor Chuck Reed. He says that the city’s Independent Committee to investigate the SJPD is doing precisely what Coto wants the auditor to do “and more.” Police Chief Rob Davis says that the SJPD is already reviewing its practices and learning about best practices and procedures from other communities across the state.

On the other hand, Coto and Fong are getting the support of both the Latino and Asian communities. The Silicon Valley Latino Democratic Forum says that “The statistics regarding the disproportionate number of arrests of Latinos are compelling and undeniable,” while Asian Americans for Community Involvement has expressed concern about how force was used in such recent cases as the arrest of Vietnamese student Phuong Ho last year.

One issue that might undermine the audit is its cost. While audits often investigate inefficient financial practices, the cost to the taxpayer is anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000 for about six months of work. The state will have to decide whether that is justifiable, given the current economic climate.
Read More at the Mercury News.


  1. Can California afford this nonsense?

    These two elected officials want to spend up to a QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS of your tax dollars “investigating” something that has already been shown to be false.

    All they need to do is look at the findings of the independent report done by the Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity which showed the Merc’s manufactured statistics and BS journalism are completely, 100% wrong.

    Or, they could look to the Grand Jury’s findings in the Pham case, which also found in favor of the police.

    Nope, not these two big spenders. they want to blow our taxes on a frivolous “audit.” 

    California is laying off teachers, our freeways and levees are crumbling. Yet these two “legislators” want to blow a small fortune to score political points with the Mercury, Asian Law Alliance and La Raza Lawyers.

    We cannot afford this sort of political grandstanding. This is the People’s money they want to spend.

    I expect better from my representatives in Sacramento.

    • It is also nice to be financially secure and light skin. Why clutter your mind with the disenfranchisement of those without good jobs, health care. Those who don’t dress the part of your suburban professional. The reason San Jose has so many more “take downs” than San Francisco, who endures a much higher ratio of street people, is training. Cops living the suburban dream do not relate well with the peripheral folks they deal with day after day. It takes careful training to overcome the inevitable contempt that develops. I have seen it multiple times first hand. A case I reported to the police auditor of undeniable excessive force resulted in a phone call from PD that the mentally diminished man was convinced by them not to pursue, without legal representation. On the other hand I have observed SF PD in the tenderloin. It’s like night and day. As to Pham, note that in some jurisdictions, say Sac State Police, there is a lower incidence of shoot to kill. I have heard PD excuses why they have to aim for the chest. $250k is a small price to protect the powerless that most care nothing for, as PD and the DA never ever find wrongdoing. The natural result of self-auditing and prosecutors obvious interdependency.

    • All the tax paying dollars is going to the bad officers unfortunately the good cops suffer.  As a taxpayer their excessive force behavior is a free ticket for the bad officers.  Wait until you see the sjpd pensions…

  2. Here is a copy of the Audit request letter:

    January 20, 2010

    Honorable Alyson Huber
    Chair, Joint Legislative Audit Committee
    1020 N Street, Room 107
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    Dear Chairperson Huber:

    We respectfully request the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to complete an audit and evaluation of the policies and practices of the City of San Jose Police Department, in regards to enforcement of Penal Code section 148(a)(1).

    Penal Code section 148(a) (1) states the following: Every person who willfully resists, delays, or obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency medical technician, as defined in Division 2.5 (commencing with Section 1797) of the Health and Safety Code, in the discharge or attempt to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment, when no other punishment is prescribed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

    Within this past year, there has been an influx of incidents where interactions among police officers and citizens have escalated into violent encounters. San Jose’s large number and percentage of arrests for resisting or interfering with a police officer exceeds those of other major California cities. The San Jose Mercury News articles, analysis and editorials have documented this trend for quite some time, and called for action and change. San Jose officials have now asked that roughly 200 cases be reviewed in order to establish whether or not officers used excessive force when making arrests.

    We ask that the State Auditor investigate, to the extent possible, and report on:

    1.  Does the San Jose Police Department have policies and procedures to ensure that officers receive adequate training and supervision regarding the appropriate use of force? If so, how does the department monitor the effectiveness of these policies and procedures?

    2. Does the department track arrests involving the use of force? If so, identify any trends or patterns that may exist related to the use of force during arrests?

    3. Determine what training regarding the appropriate use of force has been provided to officers involved in each of the incidents which culminated in a suspect being arrested for a violation of Penal Code section 148, subdivision (a)(1), where the suspect was injured and/or where a complaint about excessive use of force was filed.

    4. How do other metropolitan police departments train, supervise, and monitor police officers regarding the appropriate use of force? Are there best practices in this area that San Jose can adopt from other departments?

    5. Determine the San Jose Police Department’s process for tracking and addressing citizen complaints concerning the use of excessive force? Does the department follow its process for addressing complaints? What has been the disposition of the complaints received over the past five years? What corrective actions have been taken by the department in response to the complaints received over the past five years?

    Thank you for your attention to this request.


    Joe Coto           Paul Fong
    Assemblymember         Assemblymember  
    23rd District       22nd District

  3. Our State is loosing teachers, jobs, businesses, medical care, in home care assistance for the elderly, and disabled, and schools are being closed down, etc., but these two spend thrifts can ask for hundreds of thousands of dollars for an investigation that isn’t warranted. The City and the DA are already investigating this issue.

    It must be nice to spend other people’s money whilst collecting a huge salary, and collect lifetime benefits care of taxpayers.

  4. ” San Jose’s large number and percentage of arrests for resisting or interfering with a police officer exceeds those of other major California cities. The San Jose Mercury News articles, analysis and editorials have documented this trend “.

    You should look at the complete 2008 California resisting arrest data to understand the issues and where San Jose ranks

    1) Understanding the Problem

    “Along with a story on the use of force by San Jose police in resisting-arrest cases (front page, Nov. 1), the Mercury News presented the bar graph below (which does not appear with the online article).  This graph shows arrest rates by racial groups but does not account for each city’s population or demographics:”

    ( go to Understanding the Problem for graph “

    As you can see from the graph, San Jose ranks second out of the cities listed in terms of overall arrests.

    But when you use California Department of Finance population estimates to calculate the resisting arrest rate per 1,000 city residents, San Jose drops to fifth:

    1.  Fresno 2.228
    2.  Bakersfield 1.993
    3.  Stockton 1.921
    4.  Oakland 1.362
    5.  San Jose 1.126

    (For a complete table of 2008 comparative arrest data, )

    While we don’t want to speculate as to why, but notice in the table that:

    a.  arrest rates per 1000 and the rate of Latino arrests by population for Fresno (2.22/1.13) and Bakersfield (1.99/0.85) are substantially higher than San Jose’s (1.12 / 0.72); and

    b.  seven of nine Mercury News-selected California cities had higher Latino resisting arrest rates per 1000 than their percentage of Latino residents (data not available for San Francisco).

    2) Look Closer: Resisting Arrest

    “According to a DOJ spokesperson, the arrest data and arrest group data is not available on the DOJ web site but only by public records request. “

    ” It is true that San Jose police file a higher total number of charges for resisting arrest than other cities examined during a Mercury News investigation — except San Diego.  However, when you use California Department of Finance population estimates to calculate the resisting arrest rate per 1,000 residents, San Jose drops to fifth:

      1. Fresno 2.228
      2. Bakersfield 1.993
      3. Stockton 1.921
      4. Oakland 1.362
      5. San Jose 1.126

    For the complete table of comparative arrest data used in my previous blog, click here.

    When my blog was originally published, I had not yet received data from the Department of Justice.  Now that I have those numbers, I can present a fuller picture of how skewed the Mercury’s analysis truly is.

    Ten of the 15 largest California cites (by population) were listed in the Mercury’s Nov. 1st article, but this did not include three cities with equal or higher Latino resisting arrest rates than San Jose’s 64.25%. In addition, two neighboring cities, Gilroy and Watsonville, were also not listed despite having higher Latino arrest rates:”

    “Not included in this chart are five more of the top 50 California cities (by population) with higher Latino/Hispanic arrest rates than San Jose:

    21.  Oxnard 87.2%
    22.  Fontana 67.23%
    26.  Garden Grove 64.80%
    28.  Ontario 69.29%
    29.  Pomona 72.22%

    You can click here ( )  to view a table of all the 2008 California resisting arrest data that I received from the DOJ.”

    “The FBI lists a number of “Variables Affecting Crime” on its website, including the transience of a city’s population, its racial and ethnic makeup, its composition by age and gender, educational levels, and prevalent family structures.  These and others are “key factors” in assessing and comprehending crime in a certain city.

    The Mercury News failed to factor in these variables in order to provide the public with a complete and accurate comparison of resisting arrest rates.  The results are misunderstanding among community members and incorrect conclusions by City leaders tasked with solving a very complex problem they may not fully understand.”

  5. I think it’s a great idea.  We lose more than money when we have law enforcement out there who isn’t trained well and has issues with public.  After all they are there to protect and serve the public. 

    Maybe this will help weed out the bad eggs in SJPD and save more in the long run since most in SJPD make that amount in a year or more with overtime.  I say VOTE YES ON COTO AND FONG!  Keep up the good work.

    • “most in SJPD make that amount in a year or more with overtime”

      Can you please provide some proof of this, some link where we can verify most officers make more than $250,000 a year, or is the rest of your post just more erroneous hyperbole?

    • If this link was meant to verify that “most” San Jose Police officers make more than $250,000 a year, as Richard claims, it certainly doesn’t verify anything of the sort.

  6. This is pretty much a slap in the face to SJPD and Reed from Nora Campos via Joe Coto. It’s an election year…what else would you expect?

    As for The Silicon Valley Latino Democratic Forum, what else have they’ve done? Their Chairperson needs to hush-up. Go back to doing to your little get togethers and leave it up to the big boys that ACTUALLY do something.

    Yours truly,

  7. Here is an example of our state morons at work. State Senator Lowenthal wants employers to start charging all employees to park on company property to encourage taking mass transportation. Maybe these jokers, including Fong and Coto, should wake up and take care of the basics instead of driving the car over the cliff and grandstanding all at once.

  8. It’s very nice to know that our ‘friends’ in Sacramento have their house in order. We really do need their expertise in order to get our fair City in order.

  9. I think that it’s a good idea for San Jose to take a good look at some of the police officers.  It isn’t any different with them; we have some good and we have some corrupted ones that take advantage of the badge they wear.

  10. Finnally.  We need an external evaluation with objective monitoring of the changes and implemetation of new policies. Talk is cheap when you are doinh your own investigation and auditing. Reed simply doesn’t want bad PR.

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