SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is calling for the city’s Public Information Office to release the San Jose Police Department’s use of force records after the office failed to release the records under California’s new transparency law.
On Thursday, Mayor Liccardo ordered the city’s Public Information Office to release all primary reports within 30 days and all other responsive records such as video and audiotapes, within 90 days after multiple news outlets submitted their request for the records more than a year and a half ago.
“There’s a lot of righteous frustration right now about transparency in police departments, around accountability and around responsiveness,” said Mayor Liccardo.
“We need to meet this moment by providing all the information that the public deserves to see about each of these cases and we need to do so quickly.”
The Mayor also calls for the Public Information Office to request the assistance from the District Attorney’s Office to help with additional records-producing resources and staff to speed up the process.
Public records request unfulfilled
On Jan. 1, 2019, a request for records on numerous police shootings and use of force by SJPD was requested by multiple news agencies throughout the Bay Area but till this day have yet to receive all requested records.
Under current City Charter, Mayor Liccardo is unauthorized to direct the City Manager or Police Chief to release the public records.
“We need to meet the moment by providing the records that the media and the public clearly deserve access to and I intend to do so rapidly,” said Mayor Liccardo.
“I am using my limited authority to get the Public Information Office to push forward and I hope that it will spur others to get these records out into the public domain.”
When the records requests were submitted over a year and a half ago, the Mercury News reported that SJPD responded by saying it would take them up to four years to produce 86 requested records — which also include records about officers who committed acts of dishonesty and sexual assault.
Amid recent local and national outcry over police brutality and systemic racism, the Mayor wants the public to know that the city and is committed to being as transparent as possible.
“It’s moments like these that we need to be more responsive, providing more public records ensuring that we are responding quickly when the media and public come to us and ask what happened in this case,” said Mayor Liccardo.
“That will help us as understand as a city how we can improve to improve our policing, to improve our responsiveness and also to help the public better understand all these dimensions of these complex issues.”
Mayor Liccardo also talked about recent petitions to “de-fund” the San Jose Police Department despite having one of the smallest police force in the country.
“We reduced our police budget by seven million dollars cause of budget constraints, we didn’t embarace what’s commonly known as defund because we already have the most thinly staffed police department in any major city in the nation,” said Mayor Liccardo.
“We have engaged in defunding you might say involuntarily for the last decade as we’ve lost nearly 600 police officers starting around 2009,2010.”
Alternative responses to 9-1-1 calls
Instead, the city is focusing on alternative ways to respond to police calls to ensure the best qualified personnel is fit to assist certain calls in an effort to decrease police misconduct.
“We’re trying to encourage more mental health workers to ride along in police cars with us so that the first person who might be encountering somebody in destress will be somebody other than with a badge and a gun.”
“But one way or another at the end of the day is we are still going to need a police department.”