Downtown Association President calls for Police Advisory Board

The president of the San Jose Downtown Association, the group that represents downtown San Jose business and property owners, has called for the establishment of a police advisory commission. Though his position has not been officially endorsed by SJDA’s board, Art Bernstein says it is consistent with the objectives of the group’s advocacy arm.

San Jose needs “a body in between the police and city council so that every time there are issues of concern to the community, it doesn’t take a city council meeting,” Bernstein told Fly. A “citizen’s advisory group” would fill that role best. In an OpEd in Sunday’s Merc, Bernstein cites recent initiatives to charge downtown businesses for policing costs and notes that police have become “more aggressive with permit compliance, code enforcement and the closing down of some of downtown’s bars and clubs.”

He also points out that the city has “sanctioned a late-night practice of using large numbers of police downtown on weekends.” He called on the city to shift “from enforcement to management when it comes to policing downtown.”

The original version, which Bernstein shared with Fly, ran under the unambiguous and provocative headline: “San Jose needs a police advisory commission.” (The piece can be read in its entirety below.) The Merc softened it for publication, but it is still likely to be explosive. The move is likely to face opposition from the SJPD, which has historically opposed citizen oversight.

San Jose formed the Office of the Independent Police Auditor in September 1993 as an alternative in response to calls for a commission to review police issues. The council appointed Teresa Guerrero-Daley to fill the slot, until Barbara Attard took over in 2004. After Attard sought power to review police investigations, the council restricted her powers and ended her contract last month.

Bernstein’s call for a commission renews the citizen oversight discussion.

The San Jose City Council generally hews to a pro-law enforcement line these days. The council’s pro-labor union majority supports issues dear to police union members who do not want citizens reviewing their activities. And three members of the non-union aligned council bloc include former SJPD officer Pete Constant, ex-prosecutor Sam Liccardo and a former military man, Mayor Chuck Reed. Councilmember Madison Nguyen, who rose to prominence as part of a citizen’s movement that followed a fatal police shooting of a mentally ill woman, is ill equipped to lead the charge. She’s currently fighting to save her political career due to a recall sparked by the Little Saigon naming controversy.

Bernstein’s article, with his original headline, follows.

San Jose needs a police advisory commission

by Art Bernstein

Though many downtown San Jose nightlife gems shine bright, the center city’s overall image still needs work, and seems to take lumps in the media almost weekly.

The latest headlines are about the San Jose Police Department’s high rate of drunk-in-public arrests.  The City Council holds a public meeting on the issue Tuesday night.

Beyond the inevitable statistical rationalizations, city leaders should consider this a golden opportunity to change the city’s emphasis from enforcement to management when it comes to policing downtown. 

No effective or formal layer exists between the police and the city council.  How different would it be Tuesday if council members received an official update about progress on improving the night culture downtown instead of a public hearing to analyze drunk arrests?  Would reactions be different if a standing citizen committee had been meeting all along; bridging police and community issues that put arrest statistics into reasoned perspective?

The city manager has recognized the need for increased community input on downtown police and nightlife issues and has plans to create an “advisory group” for this purpose.  The actual powers and police cooperation with this group will be key, but for now, the manager’s plan is a step in the right direction.

An empowered commission could work with police, businesses, residents and community members on identifying tactics to better manage downtown nightlife, eventually developing consensus on policies for city council review. 

Everyone shares the same goal of a safe, friendly and successful downtown with diverse entertainment and activity options.  However, current city tactics address the goal from a negative perspective – that downtown nightlife is a problem that requires a heavy hand.  To wit:

- Recent city efforts are more aggressive with permit compliance, code enforcement and the closing down of some of downtown’s bars and clubs. 

- The city has sanctioned a late-night practice of using large numbers of police downtown on weekends, with most paid overtime, to help close the “entertainment zone.” 

- More regulation waits in the wings, including a downtown nightclub tax to pay for police, noise monitors and new downtown zoning restrictions.
 
By over-concentrating on a handful of poorly managed clubs and rowdy young adults, we have let a few bad apples taint the whole downtown barrel.  The headlines play out the city’s approach – in fact driving away some of the very customers (and condo buyers) we are trying to attract.

Too often ignored is the predominantly good news about downtown’s nightlife environment and its many wonderful venues:  the neighborhood feel of Trial’s Pub, midnight movies at Camera 12, the sophistication of the Hedley Club Lounge, dancing at Splash, the eclecticism at South First Billiards, after-theater dinner at Original Joe’s, live bands at The Blank Club . . . the list of attributes is much longer than our shortcomings.  It is time for the city to change its focus to the positives.

In familial terms, downtown is still an adolescent.  From every branding perspective – the rational and emotional to the practical and magical – downtown’s nightlife requires nurturing.  Certainly, unruly teenagers need discipline, but when has a singular approach of “laying down the law” been the most effective way to foster positive change in behavior?

Before the city increases its reliance on further regulation and enforcement, it should try a different management approach.  It should allow the proposed advisory group to form and review existing practices.  After collecting more facts, monitoring the regulations already on the books and giving the market a chance to evolve, we may find our collective goal of a diverse, safe and fun downtown night experience is closer than we think.

Art Bernstein is the volunteer President of the San Jose Downtown Association and Executive Director of Hopkins & Carley, A Law Corporation.

 

 

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

31 Comments

  1. It is not surprising that the fly, a bothersome insect whose whole existence revolves around scat and scat related issues, would take up the championing of the manure pile we San Joseans call the downtown nightclub scene. What irritates here is the obfuscation and omission of facts that bear directly on the story told.
    In fact, the San Jose City Manager just created (and filled) a position called, The Downtown Coordinator; whose job it will be to fill the need, as Scott Kneis shill Art Bernstein puts it, “a body in between the police and city council so that every time there are issues of concern to the community, it doesn’t take a city council meeting.”
    Scott Kneis is upset that his Ombudsman idea, an “independent” position that he wanted for the pocket of the nightclubs and SJDA, was vetoed by Debra Figone. The city manager had the audacity to solve the problem without Scott Kneis’ approval….hence, the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the SJDA corner.
    The fly quotes a Bernstein Op-Ed, “police have become more aggressive with permit compliance, code enforcement and the closing down of some of downtown’s bars and clubs.” The police aren’t more aggressive. They are enforcing the law now; whereas before, they (and to be fair – SJRA, Planning, Mayor and Council) just let the nightclubs do whatever the hell they wanted…which is how we got into this sucky downtown situation in the first place.

  2. Great post! I think it’s time we start addressing those who are responsible, starting with the The Mayor, The District 3 Councilmember, and the Police Chief.

    It is time for CHANGE, and CHANGE must start now! If we continue with our failed “Downtown Policies” we will never make it through these tuff times. 

    I look forward to attending tomorrow’s City Council meeting and watching how the chief explains his way out of this one, and to see what position Sam and Chuck take. 

    This is embarrassing to even have to see our tax dollar being wasted here.

  3. A few questions:

    Where can I sign up to serve on the police advisory board? What a dream job: influence without accountability.

    Where can one go to learn how to “manage” a nightclub district? I’m very anxious to know how one “manages” beer-heads fighting in parking lots, drunks driving dangerously, and gang-bangers exchanging rounds in a bandana-color dispute? 

    Is it possible that the downtown’s “nightclub model” was based on outdated assumptions about the maturity and civility of young adults? Should we explore restricting nightclub access to adults over 25 or 30 years of age?

    How realistic is it to expect that a generation riddled with attention-deficit-disorder and other learning disabilities will respond positively to anything but physical control and pharmaceutical intervention? Is it possible that in addition to a sobering station we taxpayers can fund a “time-out corral” complete with a Ritalin dispensary?

    Am I wrong in questioning the wisdom of the Downtown Association’s strategy of making public its disagreements with the police department? When did, “With Problems Even the Cops Can’t Solve!” become a winning slogan for filling restaurant seats and selling condos? Were I invested in Los Gatos, Campbell, or Santana Row, I’d be sending Mr. Bernstein a Thank You card. Were I a downtown condo developer, I’d look into suing.

  4. Finfan as usual you are right on the money. I have been waiting for the developers of those $100 million condo hi-rises to speak out and demand a better environment for their product in pursuit of some sucker willing to spend a lot of money in a place that no one feels comfortable in but the drunks.

    Who wants to purchase a condo with a nightclub in their backyard and puke on their doorstep?

    I will continue to avoid the downtown and spend my money in Campbell, Santana Row and Los Gatos. Yuck.

  5. Like #5 Kenny, I too “passed on the high-rise condos because of the club-driven gang-banger atmosphere of today’s downtown.”  I used to live downtown and ended up moving because on the weekend, it becomes full of rough out-of-towners who cause trouble.

  6. This was on another thread.  Seems interesting.

    From a Bar Owner:

    “What you don’t realize is campbell has all of our customers that the SJPD has chased away. 

    You mentioned four bars and a brewery (sonoma chicken). All have lines and all filled with SJSU students, recents SJSU grads and young professionals who used to come to downtown San Jose until about 3 years ago.

    3 years ago, the SJPD cracked down on downtown.  The goal was to get rid of the small but measurable “gang” member element “controling” the streets and clubs.

    The pressure of the police didn’t and still isn’t working.  All it did was run a lot of good business operators and their customers out of downtown San Jose.  What is left is the thugs who don’t care about the police pressure.

    what campbell and many other areas near San Jose get are our customers and our tax base.  We get left with empty storefronts and thugs.

    Downtown Bar Owner”

    # 9 and finfan, maybe police pressure and compliance enforcement isn’t working.

  7. We do not need a Police Review Board.  We need to control all the drunks that frequent downtown.  A better solution would be a system where nightclubs pay the City to have an officer stationed at each nightclub, weeding out underage drinkers, sending those people that are getting too drunk home, and protecting the peace.  That is the system we had before our dear Independent Police Auditor had it thrown out, and we did not have this problem before the IPA had the system thrown out. Let’s take a lesson from the past, and start controling the problem instead of blaming the cops for doing the job we asked them to do.

  8. According to the above post “Art Bernstein is the volunteer President of the San Jose Downtown Association and Executive Director of Hopkins & Carley, A Law Corporation.” Anyone or anything associated to a law firm in this matter has its own agenda with money at the bottom line. Bernstein’s attempt at a cute analogy, “In familial terms, downtown is still an adolescent” as though it is too young to take responsibility and we should cut it slack is nauseating. The police are already very lenient downtown. Each weekend there are thousands of drunks walking and driving and only a very small percentage are every arrested and very few bar owners are ever cited for serving obvious drunks.

  9. I thought Mayor Reed was supposed to be a pro-business mayor! Wasn’t he the chamber guy who ran against the anti-business commies?

    Why is downtown driving away its most successful businesses, the ones who draw people downtown and generate taxable revenues? When the clubs go because of the police harassment, the restaurants will be empty, like they are on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays when the clubs are closed. More restaurants will fail, like Paragon. The parking lots will be empty and won’t generate revenue for downtown. Hotel occupancy rates will go down even further. Conventions will bypass San Jose in favor of cities with nightlife and gentlemen’s clubs. Housing occupancy will suffer as well, because a large portion of the nightclub sector’s workforce lives downtown. And do you think the highrises will be able to sell expensive units in a dead urban landscape?

    Mayor Reed will go with his hat in his hand to Washington like a beggar looking for subsidies after having stood by and let the enforcement community destroy a viable business sector. He’s making Ron Gonzales look brilliant for trying to bring the House of Blues downtown. What has Reed done to make San Jose a fun and lively place?

  10. J. Walker (#11),

    Frankly, I do not have enough information to say whether or not SJPD’s current nightclub strategy is the right one, but I certainly endorse your questioning it as well as the search for a better approach. As I have posted on this blog a number of times and in great detail, there seemed to be far fewer problems when the policing was done on a club-by-club basis, with club owners having the right to select officers who best fit the demands of a particular establishment. These off-duty cops controlled the crowd at the club (where familiarity bred cooperation) while the responsibility for code enforcement stayed with those officers on-duty and operating objectively under the department’s chain-of-command. 

    But let’s not be too hard on SJPD even if it turns out the strategy in use is the wrong one. “Police pressure” and “code compliance” have traditionally provided the solutions to such problems, but now, in this unique political climate and with this particular generation of young adults, old law enforcement standbys are failing. We live at a time when the first reaction to any policing issue is to question the cops: their mentality, motives, response to lawbreakers, even their mere presence. The media has made “blame the cops” a nationwide sensation, as evidenced by the fact that the same young people who submit to full searches by rude security guards to get into a concert get will turn around and yell “Police State” just because a few cops are standing in front of their favorite nightclub.

    Every weekend night in the Bay Area, hundreds of thousands of mature adults enjoy an evening out without requiring the attention of a single police officer, and I would guess that most of them are thankful to see a patrol car pass them as they walk down a darkened street, stop off at an ATM, or pull into an unfamiliar gas station. These are the folks who know how to drink responsibly, dance without picking a fight, have a great time without ever once vomiting in a parking lot or urinating in a stairwell. These are the folks who make downtowns profitable, exciting, and desirable places to experience and reside. The other kind of people, whether they’re of a particular race, class, age, or occupation, deliver profits only to the club owner and trouble to everyone else. As long as this city tolerates or caters to this “other kind” Downtown SJ will continue its downward spiral, taking along with it its reputation and property values, no matter who does the policing.

  11. Maybe some of the downtown San Jose nightclub owners should go to Santana Row, Campbell, and Los Gatos and ask their patrons why they do not go downtown.

    I imagine the answer might have something to do with the criminal element that infests the downtown area. People (that do not cause problems) want a pleasant experience when they are out with friends. Those folks are less likely to be robbed or assaulted in friendlier places like Los Gatos.

    Some wish to blame the police for chasing away the good law-abiding citizens but the police are simply RESPONDING to the criminal element and activity… and yes disorderly conduct or drunk in public is something our civilized society deems unacceptable.

    Maybe its time for some to take responsibility for their actions instead of blaming the police for responding to their bad behavior.

    After Sharks games I have been approached by several hockey fans that follow the visiting teams. In general coversation they always seem to look around and ask the same questions about their safety. Perhaps they see something that we as “downtowners” have become used to… the thug element.

    The nightclubs themselves cater to the thug element and until that changes we will continue to see the unsafe environment that currently exists. 

    The time has come for the remainder of businesses (that are not part of the nightclub environment) to stand up for themselves and be heard. Enlighten the nay-sayers as to why your businesses are suffering. Your voice matters here too!

    One simple question to those who aviod downtown… Do you avoid downtown SJ beacause of the police or because of the thugs?

  12. SJPD has nearly the lowest pay and worst benefits of any Police Dept in the county. Only one other city pays less. With all the ACLU/Move On.org lovers here who HATE police, I have only one question. WHY would any young officer or lateral applicant want to come work and serve here in SJ? Why should they stay?? Maybe alot of you HATERS would prefer SJPD drive pink cars and pass out flowers. Let’s do that and see how you enjoy the rule of the criminal element. Just a thought…

  13. #4 Hector.

    Let me get this straight—clubs are our ‘most successful’ businesses? By what measure? Guy/girl ratio?

    And let me see if I understand your assertion here—that Paragon’s business is being sustained by club-goers? That getting rid of clubs will drive down the high-rise condo business? (Hint: I passed on the high-rise condos because of the club-driven gang-banger atmosphere of today’s downtown).

  14. Downtowner in SJ: You are correct. SJ has thugs, gang members, and an element that loves to party and prey upon innocent patrons of downtown. The ACLU lobby and their allies will never pay the bills if they ever allow for the fact that the SJPD is a vastly professional force that does, in fact, police it’s own. The criminal element is alive and well is SJ. Police officers work hard to sort them out from everyone else before we are victimized. It simply does NOT pay for some to admit that…

  15. #4.  Hector B.
    re: Your last paragraph. I beg to differ.
    No one can make Ron Gonzales “look brilliant”.

  16. I don’t hang out downtown other than the occasional Shark game, nor do any of my friends.  Who wants to be downtown when you get harrassed on every other corner and your morning walk to Starbucks consists of jumping over puke stains.  No one wants to choose to live in a place where you have to be afraid of which nightclub is having a sky strobe light that night.  Someone needs to make downtown a place where people want to be. Where you can feel safe and actually enjoy yourself.  Any day now….

  17. FinFan #15,

    I agree 100%.  The removel of the the pay job system as a way to deal with increased resource needs is possibly the biggest root of the problem.  When the city council voted to ban the pay officer programs at clubs; things progressively spiraled out of control.  the 4 or 5 policing models since the pay officer program was taken away all have failed.  The most current police model is a huge failure. 

    As a bar owner downtown, I do not have anything against the police; but their policies are killing downtown and causing much more harm then good.

    Downtowner #16,

    Yes, as a business person I always do my best to ask current and former customers why they do or don’t come in anymore.  The customers in Campbell are sick of drunk in public arrests and police intimidation.  A number of younger women (over 21) are sick of being ID’d by the police EVERY TIME THEY COME DOWNTOWN. 

    Think about it, if you were a young SJSU student or recent grad; and everytime you come downtown a police officer would make you go outside so they can verify your over 21; would you go back to that business? would you go back downtown? 

    This practice by the police is what happens every weekend.  The police have a roving team of 10 officers whose job is to ID every young looking female; basically looking for the 1 out of 500 minor with a fake ID.  The big score isn’t the minor but a chance to take a liquor license.  THE OUTCOME IS THE BARS GET TOO STRICT AND THE NICER CROWD HEADS TO A NEARBY CITY TO SPEND THEIR MONEY.

    So much more is wrong with both the police policies and downtown.  It would take hours of typing to explain the rest.  Hopefully this helps.

  18. sooooo lemme get this straight. Ain’t NO ONE in santana row or campbell or some other ‘burb getting drunk in the bars there? And EVERYONE stops drinking alcohol at .079, then merrily climbs into his or her car to go home, sober, and with a MADD sticker on the bumper? And, there are NO incidents of alcohol-related crimes in Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Mountain View, etc.?

    If anyone answers ‘yes’, that means that person’s never been to these places to party, or they were so drunk from the night out in those places that they blacked out and just can’t remember.

    Now, i spend time in these hoods and let me tell you, ain’t a night go by without some fool acting like a fool. Drunk hooligans are an international bunch who can be found in scotland, scarsdale, and santa clara. Booze don’t discriminate against no one (ok, maybe with the asian folks who get drunk off of the fumes). THE DIFFERENCE is in HOW incidents are handled by each respective local PD, how they are INTERPRETED by the local PD (ie, End Times violence or just some drunk guy sex-starved and disaffected), and how it is reported, or if it’s even reported.

    I guarantee there is no show of force like what one sees downtown for the SAME types of incidences in the burbs. Apples for apples. Of course, this doesn’t include the santa clara street ghostriding, but that’s so last year hyphie! In fact, if it’s last year’s thing, you better believe the burbs are doing it now. But does one read articles???

    The issue with downtown policing is one of cause and effect.

    There are people tonight who are in these burbs getting hammered and if you ask them if they go downtown, they say “no, because too many cops”. TOO MANY COPS. Not too many drunks. TOO MANY COPS. Why are they worried about cops? Because THEY INTEND ON DRIVING HOME A FEW SHEETS TO THE WIND and don’t like the idea of sitting on the curb while a cop checks their registration. And nightlife is supposed to be fun, not for taking exams.

    And, funny, they say it’s safer (the word safe used, ironically, to mean a low probability of getting popped by the cops, not of crashing the lexus into the apricot tree) to do this in the burbs.

    A case can be made that policing has had precisely the opposite effect of its intention downtown: that a strong show of force with the intention of making it safer has only filtered out good, nonviolent patrons who, yes, do get above .079 blood-alcohol, and has retained those who are less inclined to be intimidated by some muscle-bound guy in blue ready to crack skulls for jaywalking or stumbling over a cigarette butt appearing to be drunk.

    In fact, the purpose of some independent observer of some sort is to propose and oversee just such a study, one that truly gets beyond the obsession of policing and toward what will bring a mix of folks downtown and what will deter undesirables from coming downtown. In other words, thinking outside of the framework of good cop/ good cop, and approaching it from a necessary larger perspective, the goal being “enjoyable nightlife for all”.

    This study just may validate my point: that policing has pushed away a more pleasant drunk crowd, only to retain the unpleasant blustery type. Distillation seems to be the appropriate term for this phenomenon. What happens when one distills (for all you bootleggers out there who would rather stay home and booze on moonshine than go to Cinebar and buy the stuff only to get harrassed on the way out)? Well, one ends up with a concentration of something. And any concentration of anything means hardcore. In this case, hard core nightlifers.

    In other major cities, their cops are on bikes or foot, walking the beat and showing a firm, but pleasant presence. In downtown, they roll up in intimidating black cars in twos or threes, keep an open, ready palm on the nightstick, and swagger to their corners to await the egressing inebriated like lions to the watering hole. the friendlies egress, see the show of force, mumble that ‘gosh, maybe we’ll get a DUI so next week, let’s go to Santana Row’, and that’s the end of the story.

    You fearful townies need to figure out that there’s a big world out there and our nightlife isn’t even close to being edgy or dangerous. Compared to Provo, perhaps—well, we’ve all heard the executioner’s song, so maybe not. In fact, i’d say it’s pretty banal, uninteresting, derivative, and uncreative.

    So, the police may want to be adults and good Christians, and admit that their costly approach just might not be working, and that they may want to try a more civil approach, one that reflects our good american values of free will, freedom to assemble, checked gov’t agencies, and a place where all people can get drunk and drive home, including the beautiful santana row types.

    And, leave the martial law to commies and dictators.

  19. After attending last night’s Council Meeting on Public Intoxication, I think a Police Advisory Commission is the last thing we need. That would be like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. To address the Public Intoxication problems in downtown, the Council agreed to forma Task Force made up of stakeholders in the community. The Task Force would be on a strict time line of 90 days, and would be solely focused on the issue of Public Intoxication and Police practices. They would return to Council in 90 to submit a report containing their recommendations.

    Here are a few of the excellent issues that were addressed:

    A definition of Public Intoxication was presented to us so we could fully understand the seriousness of what that encompasses. I didn’t know that it included both illegal and legal drug use.

    Statistics of where and how many arrests were made for Public Intoxication. Downtown arrests only made up 30% of those arrests.

    Discussions on a Sobering Station also took place. It was interesting that the Chief was questioned on the safety of these stations, as Council Members expressed concerns about whether a combative, violent drunk would be placed in with non-violent drunks. It was decided that the issue needed further discussion to draw up guidelines to ensure the safety of others.

    Another interesting discussion was on whether Officers were relying too heavily on the Public Intoxication law rather than using other laws that more aptly applied to the situation was addressed. The Chief said he was going to work with Officers on that.

    Several Council Members asked that club owners and other businesses serving alcohol be over seen and be held more accountable for contributing to the problems of Public Intoxication all over San Jose. I think that is a great idea!

    Another very important issue discussed was people taking personal responsibility for their behaviors, as well as, getting more reliable stats on exactly who is getting arrested. More accurate stats on race, age, etc. are being requested, as well as, which event geared toward which demographic is being held at a certain time and place. I think community leaders could work with the Police by educating youth on how to behave when stopped by an Officer.

    Many speakers requested that the Council hire a new IPA immediately.

    The best thing I think that came out of the meeting was that we are all in this together. If we don’t work together to resolve this, and we keep vilifying the Police and pointing fingers at others, nothing will ever change. I think that is very true because it is our community.

    Anyone interested in getting on the Task Force were asked to contact the City Manager, Debra Figona. Or if you just want to submit ideas to help address these issues please send them to the Mayor and Council.

  20. I forgot to add that the Police Chief suggested that people being stopped for public drunkenness be given the option of taking a breath test. The person being given one would cover the cost. A great idea that is being practiced by many cities.

    I also think the City needs to look into funding cameras for Police cars. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

  21. I don’t go clubbing, I don’t even drink!  Nightclubs and bars are a way of life in a city, and although some of you might not want to live above a bar or nightclub there are people who don’t mind it. 

    What makes people not feel safe downtown is the RIOT SQUAD on patrol every weekend.  Anyone not familiar with downtown will look at the SJPD numbers and wonder what is going on and want to get out of the area as soon as they can, for us it is a normal way of life.

  22. How did it get this bad?  Obviously the situation in Downtown when bars close is a nightmare.  It looks like a para-military operation.  Many now go to Campbell, Santana Row, Los Gatos and other places just because they are so sick of the SJPD.

    The remaining customers are those who seem all too familiar with police action.  I don’t mix well with them and I resent the outragious police presence.  This is not sustainable.  The nightclubs down there are going to fail (along with lots of other businesses) before it is all reborn.  I think we’re looking at decades.

  23. If the SJPD were willing maybe they should just pull out of downtown San Jose and see what happens. I imagine the loving and caring (violent) drunks would suddenly stop their bad behavior and become model citizens. If the police department were to ignore the drunk in public arrests (they currently make) that crime would spiral out of control downtown.

    It appears as if some believe the police officers are the cause of the problem. I’m sure those officers just LOVE to write reports.

    Santana Row is in San Jose. Why are the arrests not as high in that venue? It all comes down to acceptable and unnaceptable behavior of those that choose to go out and drink.

    I assume there are just as many people drinking at Santana Row but there are far less assaults, batteries, robberies, and other such disorderly conduct.

  24. Out of a city with a population nearing 1 millions citizens, only 200 show up (unknown if they are are even SJ citizens) for this dog and pony show, IE “Council Meeting on Public Intoxication”. Sounds like there are over 999,000 San Jose citizens who stayed home. That is the number the mayor and council look at for determining if there is a problem before they come up with some knee jerk reaction to pacify a few malcontents while the rest of us are put in danger from their stupidity. Did anyone at anytime in this meeting bring up that there might be a higher incidence of alcohol abuse in the Hispanic community? If not, why? Is that politically incorrect to discuss so we will therefore make the police department a scapegoat as a way of avoiding the issue? The police department nor the chief are racist and there is no agenda targeting Hispanic drunks. The police department has officers of every ethnicity possible including a large number of Hispanic officers including in high command positions. Those that think the police are out to target drunk Hispanics to arrest are sheer morons. I think most of us have been around an out of control drunk who either wants to fight anyone or get in his car and drive off, and these are the vast majority of who is getting arrested for drunk in public. Do we now as a society want the police to now simply do nothing so these fights turn into a murder or a mangled car wreck? I don’t, and apparently so did over 900,000 other San Jose citizens who did not show up for this meeting.

    On a side note, it is no wonder the San Jose Police department is losing veteran officers left and right to other departments and also failing to attract very many qualified applicants. With all the great work these cops do the only thing that is every publicized in the media is from malcontents with an axe to grind. Somebody needs the backbone to tell these people to pound salt.

  25. #25-Steve,
    Very well said. I was at the meeting and I can tell you it always disappoints me when I don’t see citizens living in DT attend. What I did see was a very well organized political gathering of special interest groups gearing up for one hell of a fight. Of course the public comment forum was led by our dear Raj, spouting the usual out rage at the City and the Police.  All the usual suspects complaining about being arrested or harassed were there, along with political wannabes and has-beens demanding justice for the Latino community. Not one person spoke of taking personal responsibility for their actions, nor for their community’s actions.
    I hold little hope for this Task Force making any changes because it is one sided. No one is going to point the finger at any one but the Police for the violence in DT. As long as only one side of the issue is looked at, the problem will never change.
    I must tell you one thing though, as I looked at the faces of the Police Officers sitting there, I felt really bad for them. Imagine putting your life on the line every day for people who scream and yell at you for doing your job. Imagine how Chief Davis felt when Supervisor Alvarado said she was disgusted that we had to sit through a presentation of the facts from him, when the meeting was for the community. I think we deserve to lose these fine Police Officers to cities who appreciate their service. May be once we have an even higher crime rate, people in our community will be angry enough to open their mouth.

  26. #27, you must be reading my mind. I’m willing to bet that if the “entertainment police” of SJPD pulled out of downtown for just one week, there would be about 4 homicides, a multitude of assaults with deadly weapons as well as numerous, numerous drunken brawls. People are not taking responsibility for their own actions. If you get drunk and start a fight, that’s on you. You can’t blame the police for breaking up a fight and arresting the combatants or even using force to stop the combatants. The only thing I saw at the city council meeting was a bunch of ignorant fools that got themselves arrested and then not accept responsibility for their actions which got them arrested in the first place. It’s funny to see how several people got up there any said “I didn’t do anything wrong, I was the designated driver”. I was at the Wet nightclub this last Saturday night. Security had 86’d this one guy because he was too drunk. He was walking around stumbling and telling people that he needed to get back inside the club to get his friends because he was the designated driver! What a Joke! Bar and club owners need to accept a large part of the responsibility for the people they serve. 95% of the problem is that the people are getting over served. Bar and nightclub owners think about one thing and one thing only and that’s the all mighty green back. They could care less about how their bar or their over service of people effects downtown as long as they’re making their buck. The Truth Hurts!