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San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo Rejects Calls to Defund Police, Says Law Enforcement Needs Reform Not Reduction

Post Date:06/08/2020 11:00 AM

Contact:

Rachel Davis, Office of Mayor Sam Liccardo, 408.712.9149, rachel.davis@sanjoseca.gov

  

SAN JOSÉ, CA - San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo today said that efforts to defund police budgets will undermine substantive efforts at police reform, hurting the very communities most in need of help.

 "We have much work to do to confront our long and terrible history of police brutality against black and brown Americans,” said Mayor Liccardo.  "Defunding urban police departments won’t help us do it.  It is the wrong idea at the worst possible time and the budget released tomorrow will reflect that."

 Liccardo cites U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics data showing that communities of color are disproportionate victims of serious and violent crimes, and that any cuts in police staffing will disproportionately harm the very communities that need to see progress.   

 "Defunding police will hurt the very people who have suffered the most from systemic racism in this nation," Mayor Liccardo said. "Rich, white communities and businesses in suburban malls will just accelerate the hiring of private security guards."  

Last week, Liccardo called for a ban on the use of rubber bullets in crowds, expanding the authority of San Jose's civilian independent police auditor, and a full review of San Jose's use of force policies, among other measures.  He has also called for greater accountability for officer misconduct so bad cops can be fired faster. 

 Derrick Sanderlin, a community organizer who has trained San Jose police officers on implicit bias, suffered potentially permanent injuries caused by a rubber bullet at a recent demonstration in the city. 

 As the mayor of America's 10th largest city, Liccardo noted the San Jose Police Department's recent progress in eliminating the longstanding disparity between officers' use of force rates and arrest rates against persons of color but said that the police reforms started in San Jose in previous years need to go farther, including changes to union contracts and laws that create obstacles to ensuring officer accountability—particularly the firing of bad cops. The San Jose reforms that have led to this progress include:

·         Collecting data to track every patdown, stop, arrest or use of force by race, and publishing that data;

·         Hiring external experts to analyze data and make recommendations;

·         Investing millions of dollars in body-worn cameras and video data storage;

·         Imposing mandatory training for officers in violence de-escalation and implicit racial bias;

·         Utilizing data tools to detect misconduct-prone officers earlier; 

·         Enhancing psychological testing and screening in the City's police academies; and,

·         Intentional investment in recruiting officers to better reflect the community's diversity.

Liccardo noted that all of these initiatives require funding, especially to backfill the thousands of police hours that are spent in training classes instead of on patrol. “Defunding police undermines progress on these and other tools to improve accountability, training, and recruiting,” Liccardo said. 

 Mayor Liccardo also noted that “defunding” proponents need to be realistic about what cuts will actually do to programs within many urban police departments. “Any Police Chief or City Council will be loath to cut the lifeline 911 emergency response that patrol officers provide to communities in moments of distress,” Liccardo observed. “Instead, they’ll wring savings from programs that work proactively to build stronger communities in troubled neighborhoods, such as crime prevention, Police Activities League, and community outreach.”  

 The San Jose budget being released tomorrow will showcase Mayor Liccardo’s commitment to his approach. The Mayor reiterated that police reform cannot come at the expense of our obligation to protect every resident, regardless of color. "Safety from police violence is a civil right," Liccardo said. "Safety from all violence is a human right.”

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