Eleven months have passed since SB 1421 became law.
The bill requires law enforcement agencies to publicly disclose records of internal investigations into police shootings, severe physical force and proven cases of dishonesty or sexual assault by on-duty cops. While other major cities have complied with such review requests, San Jose Police Department has yet to come clean.
In fact, SJPD officials told the Mercury News that it would take until Oct. 1, 2023, to release everything asked of the agency.
Now, a group representing families that lost loved ones in officer-involved shootings has called the agency out. In a Nov. 6 letter cc’ed to Gov. Gavin Newsom, Silicon Valley De-Bug activists Laurie Valdez, Kimberly Phillips and Jim Showman, among others, have demanded answers. “Every month, families have gotten emails from the San Jose police records unit indicating that they need more time,” it reads. “These emails are usually two lines: ‘The department will require additional time to process your request. An update will be provided by (insert date here).’”
The letter called the emails “canned and heartless” and an example of how families impacted by police-involved deaths are treated with “no compassion.” The letter criticizes SJPD’s point person in the records unit, Monique Villareal, for sending updates that are “unprofessional” and “insensitive to families” and asks that the agency assign someone new to the position.
SV-Debug also demanded that the city comply with the organization’s outstanding records requests by the first week of next month and that it provide an update about what efforts have been made to comply with SB 1421. “The city of San Jose and the San Jose Police Department have spoken publicly about building trust within the community and we are one of the last cities to comply with SB 1421,” De-Bug wrote. “Further delays do not add to building trust.”
SJPD spokeswoman Officer Gina Tepoorten referred Fly’s request for comment to Chief Eddie Garcia’s statement to the Merc. That is: “We’re evaluating short- and long-term solutions to be able to respond in a timely manner, including adding more staff. The process to release records includes reviewing and redacting records for privacy purposes; in fact, a recent request consisted of more than 3,000 pages of documents.”