San Jose mayor reveals plan to reform police department

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – There are plans in the works to reform the police department in San Jose in response to calls for change in the wake of recent protests.

While many cities across the country are being urged to defund their police departments, the plan being pushed by the mayor calls for reforming the department but not defunding it. 

“Our community expects us to do better and we’re committed to doing better,” Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

In a virtual news conference Wednesday, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo announced plans to reform the city’s police department. 

The action follows the mayor’s refusal to give in to protesters’ calls to defund the department while addressing calls for change amid outrage over police brutality nationwide.

“These are several receptive changes which are proposed for how we’ll ensure that San Jose continues to be at the forefront in police accountability and how we can ensure that we are providing equal protection for everyone under the law,” Liccardo said.

The mayor laid out an ambitious 9-point plan.

Included are steps to improve transparency and accountability in arbitration and disciplinary decisions, independent investigations of alleged police misconduct, the expanded authority of the independent police auditor, college money for low-income youth who want to join the department, the separation of criminal and non-criminal matters, a ban on rubber bullets and a review of use-of-force policy, expand the authority of the mayor over the police chief, leveraging data for hiring and an audit of the department’s budget and spending. 

The mayor says the plans reflect his commitment to reforming the police department without defunding it.

“I believe the overwhelming majority of our residents want us to continue funding the police because they want police officers to show up, particularly in communities that are heavily hindered by crime. Our residents are overwhelmingly telling us we want more police, not less. The costs for defunding are rooted in something that is absolutely true which is that we need to take a hard look at our police department as we think about policing in the 21st century and identify ways in which we can better respond, maybe not with a person with a badge and a gun but for example, as somebody whose experiencing a psychotic episode with a mental health worker,” Liccardo said.

The mayor acknowledged that enacting these reforms will take time and it won’t be easy, given the fact that San Jose has one of the most thinly staffed police department in the country.

The reforms will also include the creation of a public database that will track everyone who is detained or stopped within the city.

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