If leadership change provided an opportunity for police reform, it doesn’t look like that’s in the cards in Silicon Valley’s biggest city. San Jose’s nationwide search for its next police chief turned up just one external finalist: Medaria Arradondo.
Yup. That Medaria Arradondo—the guy in charge of the Minneapolis Police Department at the time of George Floyd’s death.
While Arradondo wound up dropping out of contention at the 11th hour, the fact that he was even an option rubbed civil rights leaders the wrong way.
Raj Jayadev, founder of Silicon Valley De-Bug, said Arradondo landing on the short list showed just how “mind-numbingly out of touch” San Jose is “with the political temperament in our community and country.”
He sarcastically added: “They literally deliberated and thought, ‘Where was the epicenter of a racist killing of a Black man by police that was so egregious it triggered an unprecedented national outrage? Yeah, let’s get that chief to lead our department. That represents our values. What could go wrong?’”
As San Jose grapples with its own law enforcement issues, including fallout from an alarmingly violent response to local demonstrations against Floyd’s murder, activists and the city’s elected leaders had hoped to find a broader range of candidates.
But, here we are.
With Arradondo out, the remaining five finalists either work for SJPD or had worked there in the past. Namely, SJPD Acting Chief David Tindall, deputy chiefs Anthony Mata and Heather Randol, Capt. Jason Ta and SJPD alumnus-turned Piedmont police Chief Jeremy Bowers.
A few PD insiders who spoke to Fly say their money’s on Randol or Tindall—although, as one noted, it might be a bit awkward for the latter if he was passed over for an underling. If Randol gets the job, as Fly’s noted before, she’d become San Jose’s first female chief.
Of course, that’s up to the City Council to decide, and the public will get a chance to watch some of the interviews play out in a public forum this weekend. Judging by memos issued this week by Mayor Sam Liccardo, Vice Mayor Chappie Jones and council members Sylvia Arenas, David Cohen and Maya Esparza, the remaining finalists will have to answer some tough questions about race and policing.