Secrecy Surrounds Search for San Jose Police Chief

The Coalition for Justice and Accountability, a citizens group which includes Silicon Valley DeBug’s Raj Jayadev, released a report this afternoon declaring that there is “a significant problem with the SJPD’s use of force and arresting practices.” The report included a survey that focused on various San Jose minority communities.

The coalition, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, as well as a host of community activists, have called on the city to open up the interview process for San Jose’s next chief of police.

But City Manager Debra Figone, citing confidentiality as key to attracting the best man or woman for the job, has decided that she will not release the names of candidates. There will be several community panels in which candidates are vetted.

At yesterday’s council meeting, 21 questions for the candidates were submitted into record — 19 from the council, one supplemental question regarding oversight from Figone and an additional query submitted by Councilman Pete Constant.

A small sampling of the 21 questions include:

No. 6 — What are the key elements of a sound contemporary community policing philosophy?

No. 10 — In a diversity rich community like San Jose, language skills and cultural competency are very important. What experience do you have in this area?

No. 13 — What is your view of racial profiling of community members by police? What are the various dimensions of this issue, including reasons why some people believe is a significant problem in law enforcement, while others believe it is not? What are some “best practices” that you believe are most effective in countering racial profiling, whether it is “real” or “perceived”?

No. 16 — From your perspective, what is courageous leadership and how do you demonstrate this quality?

PDFs of the three memos entered into record regarding the statement of policy and questions can be found below, as well as a PDF of the Coalition for Justice and Accountability’s report.

City Manager Debra Figone’s Statement of Policy and Questions for Police Chief Candidates.

Additional Question Submitted by City Manager Debra Figone for Police Chief Candidates.

Question Submitted by Councilman Pete Constant for Police Chief Candidates.

Coalition for Justice and Accountability’s Report for San Jose’s Next Police Chief.

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

27 Comments

  1. “The Coalition for Justice and Accountability, a citizens group headed by Silicon Valley DeBug’s Raj Jayadev”, can shove their BS up their collective asses.

    • <Raj is irrelevant>
      That’s where you make your mistake Greg. Regrettably, Raj is far from irrelevant. At least he and his gang are out in the open giving us a clear view of the forces that are at work influencing the way in which our PD is staffed and run.
      You’re kidding yourself if you think the ‘progressive’ ideas that he espouses don’t permeate this City’s entire power structure.
      To silence Raj and his ilk won’t make them go away. It’ll just make them go to ground and become more difficult to challenge in a political forum.

      • John,

        Sadly, you’re correct.  The number of insane politicans and movers and shakers may indeed be to DeBooger’s advantage. 

        Oh well, “Starve the beast,” I always say.  The ever-dwindling City revenues may choke off the nut cases and those who might listen to them.

      • John Galt makes a very good point. We should never try to silence opposition to our beliefs. Change will never happen if we view things with a closed mind. If we can’t handle someone challenging our ideals, well then I think we need to re-examine our beliefs. While I agree 100% with Ms. Figone on this issue, I don’t think concerns about who is appointed as our new Chief of Police is without merit.

        Having said that John, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Association of Santa Clara Valley, along with Council Member Chu’s Office, will be holding a series of informational community meetings beginning in March. They will be 2 hours long, and in the evening so everyone can attend.

        There will be one hour set aside for presenters, and a one-hour question and answer period. These meetings will be focused on the information given and no one will be allowed to hijack the meetings into a complaint/finger pointing session.

        The reason the Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr., Association decided to conduct these meetings is because they feel it is time to move forward and leave the blame game behind. It is time to empower our communities with information and to educate them, so they can understand, and build their own relationship with Law Enforcement and agencies that can assist them during difficult times. There will be lots of information, and resources available at these meetings as well.

        Experts in Community Policing, Neighborhood Associations, Neighborhood Watch Programs, Prejudice Reduction, Hate Crimes, and Domestic Violence, Mental Health, the workings of the Judicial System/DA’s Office, Gang Violence and Prevention, Bullying, and many more topics with be discussed.

        The IPA’s Office along with Police Chief Moore will be giving a training on how to conduct themselves when stopped by the Police, and how and where to file a complaint if they feel they were mistreated. 

        There will be presentations from Chief Moore, and other DP experts, AACI, Silicon Valley Faces, the Crime Prevention Unit, The Network for a Hate Free Community, the County’s Juvenile Welfare Ombudsperson, the IPA’s Office, the DA’s Office, Mental Health experts, Pastor Sonny Lara from the Firehouse, community members like Robert Sipple, and Alofa Talivaa, just to name a few. There will be a different topic each month for 12 months.

        I will be posting those meetings dates/times/place on this blog. Hopefully, you and others will attend.

        • Mr. Potato Head- When I was a kid, I loved the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head toy! LOL!

          Anyway back to your post. You said,” Isn’t it sad that the IPA and the police Chief feel teh need to have to educate the public on “how to conduct yourself when stopped by the police?”

          The MLK Association has requested that the IPA’s Office and the Chief to provide this training. It was not THEIR idea. The training is for everyone who wants to learn a more effective way of handling being stopped and to see things from Law Enforcement’s perspective, and for Law Enforcement to see things from our side.

          Secondly, by hearing the reasons why an Officer asks us to do something specific when stopped, we begin to understand things from their perspective and vise versa. The goal is to create a way for the community to come together with Law Enforcement so we have better relationships with one another. Remember too that immigrants don’t always understand our culture and customs; therefore they will gain insight into our way of doing things.

          “Is it the case that the segment of the community that this training is directed at is ignorant of the way to behave if/when you legitimately have nothing to fear from contact with the police?  OR is it the case that this segment of the community has been done a grave disservice by being taught ineffective and inappropriate methods for interacting with the police?”

          I’m not sure how to answer that since there is no one being targeted here. It is training like any other training. It is there to educate and assist you, if you chose to take it. The goal is to address, in a positive constructive way, complaints that have been made by a small segment of the community. The time for finger pointing and complaining is gone. It is time to be responsible for our own actions and to move forward TOGETHER.

          I hope that this explanation clears up your confusion.

        • Isn’t it sad that the IPA and the police Chief feel teh need to have to educate the public on “how to conduct yourself when stopped by the police?”

          Is it the case that the segment of the community that this training is directed at is ignorant of the way to behave if/when you legitimately have nothing to fear from contact with the police?  OR is it the case that this segment of the community has been done a grave disservice by being taught ineffective and inappropriate methods for interacting with the police?

          No doubt there is a need for this training, I just wonder why that need exists.

        • Kathleen, I think we are on the same page. The training will be good for the public and good for the police. My point was more a question of how we as a society go to the point where the police are at a point where there have to be classes on how to act when the police stop you. 

          I can’t tell you the number of times in my life when I have had converatsions wiht people of all races/cultures regarding different styles of dealing with the police.  The majority were commmons sense – so common sense that they were actually common across all boundaries
          (1) if you get stopped it is probably because the poice have a really good reason.

          (2) even if you disagree with the reason be polite and cooperate while preserving your rights.

          (3) If the officers aren’t clear – ask questions (politely) to clarify.

          (4) if you aren’t satisfied as for a supervisor – if that doesn’t settle the matter there are other options IA, IPA.

          (5) if you get a ticket – sign it and take your case to court and argue – court is the proper forum to address disagreements with he law not at the roadside.

          The disservice that certian communities – and maybe more TELEVISON/MOVIES than communities have done for the public is the idea that every cop is racist, enforces the law based on prejudice against particular race, that every police contact has to be an “in your face” confrontation. That cops are stupid and don’t know the law while everyone the police come in contact with is well schooled in their rights and the law and police procedure …

          I think the classes will be a great outreach as long as they don’t turn into finger pointing sessions.

  2. Re SJPD Reserves question:

    How many reserves would remain if pay jobs were eliminated and mandatory hours increased?

    If SJPD Reserves were disbanned how many security jobs would open up for the private sector and how many full time officers and staff assigned to SJPD Reserves can be reassigned?

  3. Tried to get through CJA’s propaganda. Couldn’t. Need anti-emetics before I attempt to continue. As with the horse and water, so too is the relationship between debug, and facts, studies, statistical analysis and learning comprehension.

  4. Many of us do not agree with Raj and DeBug’s nutty supporters believe Raj has a very good point about 2-4 final Police Chief candidates should be an open public process like other cities

    The non final candidates should have their privacy protected so as to not endanger their current jobs

    City Manager Figone is partly right that early Police Chief selection process should be closed to get best and largest number of candidates so candidates can

    1) find out what the jobs is about and if they are interested and want to do the job,

    2) are they a viable candidate compared to other candidates and if a final candidate are willing to have it disclosed they are looking at other jobs while taking the real chance of be forced out or early retired politically by their enemies for ” disloyalty ” which frequently happens

    3) has the Police Chief already been picked and closed non public selection process is really a dog and pony show for public and Council by City Manager

    The final 3-4 candidates need to agree to go forward and be subject to public questions, background checks by city, public and community groups and open public meetings otherwise San Jose sunshine open government

    Does SJ have Open or Selective Secret City government ?  Yes or No – sometime means NO

    In the opinion of many,  San Jose government should not be allowed to selectively apply open government while keeping secret when the final 3-4 candidates for public jobs like Police Chief are commonly done in the open at public meeting by other “open governments “

    What do you think?

    • The problem lies in not the silence for the sake of the city but the applicants themselves. Many a career was ended early or affected by a city (current employer) finding out you were looking elsewhere. While it is often common practice to seek a higher position at another city as a PD officer or in fact a Fire Officer but if your current employer finds out or even the public… there is a cost and often times a significant one.
      We talk about transparency in this venue but how many times were you privy to your new boss, or CEO or anything for that matter. Citizens do have a say and often the candidates are interviewed by members of the community… but in this city as well as others the whole of the voice is not heard. In my only 65 years on the earth I have found that many people, mostly the ones that feel an organization or person is doing fine, never speaks up or shows up at meetings. So then does that mean we govern our selections by the voice of a few????? I always hear that we need to have representation from all of the community and I agree with that. However what I see missing is consideration that in order to become Deputy Chief or assistant Chief or Chief… it takes years of tenure. Often, whether it be the hiring times, the availability etc… there may not be someone ready from a portion of our community so to some… when a promotion is made the selection is poor. We don’t want to fall prey to being politically correct and have yet have a governing force without experience. A good example… it has only been about 25 yrs since the women really entered into Police and Fire, and they are now at a point (rightfully so) that they are being promoted. However it took a bit of time to get the experience. Such is the case across the board. While we need to care… we also need to use common sense which is something I see lacking allot these days. I could go on forever but won’t. Thanks to all who post.

  5. Does SJ have Open or Selective Secret City government? Here is what I think:

    One of your most important questions should be:
    WHY do the same people, like Raj, Jethroe Moore, and others get put on these hiring panels, over and over again, when the city should allow for a more open process to select WHOM will be appointed to these panels?

    It seems to me that if the City allowed different people/groups to be appointed to these panels, instead of the SAME people over and over again, the community’s interest would be better served. It is not only unfair to cave into special interests groups, it is not open government!

    By being more inclusive, it would also lesson the strong hold of these groups pushing their own personal agendas, and allow for open honest discussion in our community. They are dominating these choices and discussions made at City Hall. They should be a part of the discussion not the only voice that is heard.

    It would also make our electeds more accountable to all of us..

  6. This whole process has turned the stomachs of many on the police department as well. So many of us distrust and feel marginalized by both Figone and the city council that it’s hard to trust a process conducted as much in the dark as this one.

    For myself, it’s enough to make me wonder about the merit of making the position of Chief of Police an elected one, as it is in Santa Clara. At least then, the candidates would be a known quantity and would remove city hall politics from Mission Street politics.

    • Officer D

      That is a good suggestion on one hand, but bad on another. Elections draw out lobbyists, and special interest groups in even larger numbers. It seems like you just can’t win when it comes down to open government, integrity of the process, or fairness.

  7. Freedom Train Tickets on sale NOW!

    Cost: $10.00 per person
    Cost: $10.00 per child

    Date: Monday, Jan. 17, 2011.

    Where you board the train:
    Diridon Station
    65 Cahill Street, San Jose, Ca.
    408-861-5323

    Riders board the train in San Jose for a peaceful journey with stops in Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, San Mateo and arrives in San Francisco.

    You can NOT buy Freedom Train Tickets from the train station!

    Please be advised that you can only buy tickets for the train two ways!

    Buy them at the Diridon Station on Monday, Jan. 17th, between 8:00am to 9:15 am. The train leaves promptly at 9:30am. 

    Or go on line to Brown Paper Tickets!

    https://www.brownpapertickets.com/editevent.html?e_id=130504

    NOTE: You must bring your Brown Paper Ticket proof of purchase to the Diridon Station, Monday, Jan. 17th, between 8am and 9:15 am, to get your Freedom Train ticket from the MLK Association booth!

    Tickets are non-refundable. 

    They sell out fast so buy your tickets TODAY!

    You may obtain information on MLK events being held in San Francisco by going to:

    http://www.norcalmlk.org, or calling (415) 295-4450.

    We will be selling Freedom Train Tee Shirts at the Diridon Station! Sizes from Large up to 2XL!Great prices! Youth Tees will also be available!

    For more information please call 408-861-5323. Or go to http://www.scvmlk.org

    Thank you!

  8. Kathleen and Does SJ have Open or Selective Secret City governm etc

    Agree with you about the same special interest groups are picked for selection panels that many times do not represent voters, taxpayers and community are time after time on selection panels

    Why is that ? 

    Who city staff or Council have control of these frequently selected panels because groups or selected people are:  either friends, too trusting, reliable followers,  owe city staff and Council, don’t question what is going on and why, have no idea what they are doing not too bright, or know how to select city management that is responsible to public ?

    Who is on Police Chief selection panel or is that another City Hall secret rather than open city government ?

    Who selected the panel members and what groups do they represent or is that secret ?

    What groups that should have been on the panel were left off ?  Why were they left off ? 

    The 1 question left off the candidate question

    Who does the Police Chief report to ( City Manager ) but is accountable to ( Council and Public ) for his / her amd department’s performance ? 

    It seems to be lost or ignored by city staff and Council appointees that they are accountable to both Council and public

    • Questions,
      Great questions!

      If someone reading SJI knows first hand how this is done, please, tell us.
      I don’t have all the answers but here is MY understanding of how panel members are chosen. If I am not mistaken, the Mayor and each Councilmember can submit a few candidates’ names to the City Manager’s Office for consideration. They try to get folks from all organizations, neighborhood associations, and different sects of the community to create balance. I think ultimately, the City Manager chooses who goes on these panels. 

      The problem with this process, as I see it any way, is that no real community outreach is done to bring in new people.  There is no real oversight, or attention paid to who sits on these panels or how they are chosen, hence the reason you see so many of the same people sitting on them. (I appeared before a Council Committee headed by Vice Mayor Nguyen, a year or so ago, and specifically asked that a more inclusive process be done. I specifically requested that pro-Police groups be included. I must confess, I don’t see much change!)

      I will contact the City Clerk’s Office tomorrow and get that info. I would like to know myself. I’ll post what information I get.

      The Chief of Police reports to the City Manager AND the Mayor and Council. The City Manager, as I understand it, does oversee the Chief but so do the Mayor and Council when it comes to policy. The City Manager’s suggestions carries a lot of weight though, especially under Mayor Reed, have no doubt!

      On hiring, the City Manager submits her suggestions for the new Chief after the selection has been reduced down to 2-3. (The wants of these community panels may affect her decision on whom she submits to the Council. It certainly did when it came to our new IPA.) I believe it then goes before the Mayor and Council for a final vote/decision on who is chosen.

      You said, “It seems to be lost or ignored by city staff and Council appointees that they are accountable to both Council and public.”

      You are 100% correct and that is because members of the public don’t write in, or attend Council Meetings and complain about it. The only time I see regular citizens pack the Council is when they are angry about raised garbage bills, or something else that hits them personally. It is a sad state affairs for sure.

      Raj and his cohorts are paid through grant money, and donations to their non profits to lobby the Mayor and Council on a regular basis, hence why they are heard and you aren’t~

  9. One of the principal reasons that the candidate’s names are kept secret is that Debra Figone does not want everyone to see who has applied, who has withdrawn and more importantly, who hasn’t applied.  The latter is quite revealing as San Jose is the tenth largest city in the U.S. and the third largest city in California.  One would think that the SJPD police chief’s position would be a highly desirable post.  Logic would dictate that the amount of qualified candidates applying would be significant. 

    But what if the amount of applicants were actually rather small?  What if the quality of the applicants were not commensurate with the supposed reputation of San Jose as a big city and the Capital of Silicon Valley?  What exactly would that reflect, or more accurately who would it reflect upon?  Perhaps keeping the candidates secret allows Debra Figone to hide the fact that being the chief of SJPD is not generating high profile qualified candidates.  Perhaps the reputation of San Jose as a big city with a small town mindset has tainted the applicant pool.  Perhaps the knowledge that Debra Figone consistently micro-manages the SJPD has dissuaded good applicants from applying.  Perhaps the knowledge that the city council frequently kowtows to a very small but vocal minority of snivelers has turned away some great potential chiefs.  Perhaps the absurdity of San Jose’s political environment, mismanagement of public funds, and the decimation of public safety morale by a mayor and his cronies in an effort to re-direct public angst about the economy is keeping potential hirees from even submitting an application.

    Wouldn’t it be telling if all of the applicants from the outset had their names published and the list did not include the dozens of established candidates that one would assume would apply for what should be a prestigous job?  That would reflect directly on Debra Figone, and we can’t have that.

  10. How many Police Chief applicants are Police Chiefs, Assistant or Deputy Chiefs from TOP 25 US cities ?

    New York, 8,391,881
    Los Angeles, 3,831,868
    Chicago, 2,851,268
    Houston, 2,257,926
    Phoenix, 1,601,587
    Philadelphia, 1,547,297
    San Antonio, 1,373,668
    San Diego, 1,306,301
    Dallas, 1,299,543
    San Jose, 964,695
    Detroit 910,920
    San Francisco 815,358
    Jacksonville 813,518
    Indianapolis 807,584
    Austin 786,382
    Columbus 769,360
    Fort Worth 727,575
    Charlotte 709,441
    Memphis 676,640 67
    Boston 645,169
    Baltimore 637,418
    El Paso 620,447
    Seattle 617,334
    Denver 610,345
    Nashville-Davidson 605,473

    Police Chiefs or less from smaller cities than Top 25 are probably not qualified

    Maybe what is City Manager wants so she can dictate budget, staffing and policies to her new puppet Police Chief

    Selection of new Police Chief should be done in the open not in secret

    It is wrong and makes a mockery of Mayor’s and Council’s claims of having open and transparent city government when important selection decisions are hidden from public

  11. There is no secrecy regarding the next Chief, in fact the decision has been made. Running SJPD for the foreable future will be,….yes,…you guessed it, no surprise: City Manager Deb Figone! No suspense. Regardless of the name filling the office this will always be true…

  12. Officer X,

    Your city manager statements are as pointless as the “merky news” reference I have been hearing for years. Minions should not be allowed to post. Their comments are pointless and counter productive.

    Step up post a worthwhile comment.

  13. The name of new puppet Police Chief does not matter since City Manager runs police department

    Public believes that San Jose government and city labor unions are only interested in their own greed not public’s good or public safety while city deteriorates trying to pay for pension costs

  14. Realist: LMAO, minions?! Look in the mirror Realist, you are a minion of the first order you genious. Buy a clue.

    Secondly, if BATTS from OPD is tapped for SJPD I’m in. We need new, strong, bold leadership. MOORE rolled over for Licardo on the 30 day impounds in a bow to illegals. MOORE was trying to look progressive, practical, and compassionate. Instead he showed himself WEAK. He may have Licardo’s support but that is like trying to buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks for fifty cents. Then FIGONE rejected MOORE’s decision to suspend Officer Siegel for 30 days. FIGONE will seek a termination of Officer Siegel. FIGONE does not want MOORE. MOORE is the mandatory inside candidate. FIGONE will appoint BATTS to appease minorities and make history with the first black Chief in SJPD history. Snakes, errrr, politicians like FIGONE, like to leave a legacy. Guaranteed, BATTS WILL BE THE NEXT CHIEF AT SJPD. Whether he would or could stand up to Figone is another matter, but I like it, at this point. BATTS is sharp, vibrant, and this agency needs someone from the outside NOW!

  15. (01-16) 19:17 PST OAKLAND—Word is that Oakland’s highly popular police chief, Anthony Batts, is one of two finalists for the job of top cop in San Jose.

    Batts told the Oakland Police Officers Association on Sunday that the other finalist is San Jose acting Chief Chris Moore.

    Batts declined to comment other than to confirm that he is a finalist.

    “No decision has been made either by San Jose or by the chief,” said Oakland police spokeswoman Holly Joshi.

    San Jose city spokesman Tom Manheim said he could not confirm Batts is a finalist “because we are not talking about it.”

    Manheim did say that the city manager hoped to have a final pick by early February.

    “We still have more interviews and background checks to do,” Manheim said.

    In Oakland, even the possibility of Batts exiting sent shock waves through the community.

    “It’s really unfortunate – he really is well liked,” said Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid. “The people in the neighborhoods had so much faith in him being able to do what needed to be done.”

    Oakland Police Officers Association President Dom Arotzarena – whom Batts called with the news Sunday afternoon – said, “It’s very unfortunate that his time here may have been so short.”

    Recruited from Long Beach by former Mayor Ron Dellums in 2009 with the promise of a fully staffed police force and the support of City Hall, Batts has spent much of his term watching the department steadily shrink, from a nearly 800-officer force to 657.

    The biggest blow came in July when the cash-strapped city laid off 80 officers.

    And while Oakland’s serious crime rate has continued to drop under Batts, it remains one of the highest in the nation.

    In recent months, Batts had privately voiced concerns about how long the reduced crime trend can continue given the diminished size of the department.

    The disclosure that Batts is looking elsewhere – with two years still to go on his contract – presents newly installed Mayor Jean Quan with the first big challenge of her term.

    Quan, who could not be reached for comment Sunday, has had a shaky relationship with the police rank and file, in part over her insistence that they pay more into their pensions and in part over the perception that she is not supportive of the department.

    On her first full day on the job, Quan tried to mend fences by meeting with the rank-and-file cops at roll call. The move fell flat with many officers, however, when – after giving a short talk and asking all the officers to introduce themselves and state why they wanted to be on the force – Quan left without taking questions.

    She also raised eyebrows with the recent appointment of her personal lawyer Dan Siegel as her unpaid adviser on police and other matters.

    Siegel’s law firm has been fighting the city’s gang injunctions on behalf of an alleged Norteño gang member, saying such tactics will serve to “justify the belief in many neighborhoods that the police are simply an occupying army.”