Remember when Mayor Chuck Reed received a traffic ticket for not using his turn signal? It seems that story refuses to die a timely news cycle death.
In his normal Monday morning talk with KLIV this week, Mayor Reed was asked how he planned to handle the citation after it was reported that officers within the San Jose Police Department sent messages gloating and congratulating the officer who stopped Reed’s car on his way to work. Rather than cast off the reported messages as juvenile, Reed suggested that police might be profiling drivers. Some listeners even took it as Reed playing the race card.
“I was planning to just pay the fine and go to traffic school,” Reed said, “but with the recent revelations of what went on when the ticket was being written and afterwards, I’m getting concerned that perhaps the police department is deciding to selectively enforce the law based on who people are. That’s a concern. That shouldn’t happen in the city, whether it’s the mayor or a young black guy driving through our city. So, I think there’s some interesting issues there, so I’m rethinking what I’m going to do about it.”
Now, that’s pretty broad swath. The mayor and a young black guy are about as similar looking as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. And it should also be noted that the officer who pulled over Reed mentioned in many of the messages with his fellow officers that he didn’t know it was the mayor he was citing.
But, as Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold detailed, the officer said in messages to other officers that a lack of turn signal use is one of his “pet peeves,” yet he didn’t give another turn signal citation in the previous five months. Based on that frequency, it’s the equivalent of saying daylight savings is a pet peeve.
But getting back to the more salacious claim—that police are profiling drivers and selectively enforcing the law; a claim Councilmember Rose Herrera hinted at in a mailer—Sampson asked him what he thought of Councilmember Pete Constant’s claim that police overstepped bounds by asking about his political activity.
The mayor answered that the police union is “playing mean and dirty,” before adding, “I don’t think the San Jose police officers are buying into it. They’re getting blamed for a lot of stuff the union is doing. They ought to do something about that internally, but I still think that the vast majority of police officers in the San Jose Police Department are doing their jobs professionally ever day, working hard despite the fact they’ve had to take a 10 percent pay cut, despite the fact that they lost Measure B ballot measure in June. Seventy percent of people said we have to change pension. Most of our officers are still doing their jobs, just being professionals, and we appreciate that.”
So did the mayor just walk back those comments about officers “deciding to selectively enforce the law,” or does it take just a minority to prove his point?