SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia announced crowd control policy changes in a memo to his officers Monday more than a week after violent clashes between his police force and protesters.
The changes include restrictions on the use of projectiles such as rubber bullets to disperse crowds. The department has been accused of excessive force and misconduct after complaints were filed, injuries were reported and cell phone videos surfaced of violent confrontations.
“Effective immediately in crowd control situations … Projectile Impact Weapons will only be used in situations where a person is actively attacking an officer or another person or when an armed agitator poses a threat to officers or other peaceful protesters,” Garcia wrote in his memo.
He also said, “The current department policy prohibits the use of chokeholds … however, given recent events, we are updating policy language to clearly and expressly prohibit chokeholds using any body part to apply pressure to the neck including the knee.”
Garcia ended the memo voicing his support to prohibit officers fired for gross misconduct from being hired at other departments.
The changes come one day before city council members are set to discuss the force that was used on protesters in San Jose. The discussion will also include the potential cases of police misconduct during the protests, including rubber bullets shot at peaceful protesters and journalists.
“Our police chief gets it, there’s a cry for reform from every urban community in the country, San Jose is no different,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “I appreciate the step that the chief is taking, we may choose as a council to go further, because I have particular concerns about the lack of precision in shooting these projectiles.”
City leaders, including city councilmember Johnny Khamis, said the relationship between the police department and the community is overall positive, but there’s always room for improvement.
“This is what I heard from our police that were there, they were being pelted with rocks and water bottles, and what have you, so you never know what it’s like from their viewpoint, but we have to look at the whole picture,” Khamis said. “I think we can always improve the professionalism of our police, and I think this is one step to do so.”