San Jose police adopt more scrutiny on use of force

SAN JOSE — In a groundbreaking move inspired by civilian oversight, the San Jose Police Department is instituting a new policy to increase reviews of officers’ use of force and intensify investigations into the most serious instances, officials announced Tuesday.

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Before the new policy was adopted, use-of-force reviews for violent but non-fatal police encounters typically occurred only in response to a police complaint, made with the department’s Internal Affairs unit or the city’s Office of the Independent Police Auditor.

Police supervisors and commanders will now be expected to launch force investigations on their own based on what they observe in the field. Additionally, violent incidents will be graded on a new four-tier scale where a higher risk of injury or death triggers a corresponding increase in scrutiny from police brass, instead of being evaluated uniformly with no consideration for severity.

Chief Eddie Garcia said the policy was crafted in conjunction with the San Jose Police Officers’ Association to ensure maximum buy-in from his rank-and-file amid a national landscape marked by high police skepticism in disenfranchised communities.

“We are trying to be more progressive, but we also want to ensure that we’re not stymieing proactivity by forcing this down our officers’ throats,” Garcia said. “Being proactive, and being fair and just, are not mutually exclusive.”

Revealing the full picture of use of force in San Jose has been an ongoing pursuit for police watchdogs; the IPA’s office contended in its annual audit report released in June that a huge volume of incidents were escaping sorely needed examination.

“It appears that of the thousands of …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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