SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Voters in San Jose will have their say on whether or not to expand the powers of the Independent Police Auditor when it comes to deadly force and police brutality cases, this November.
In cities across America, there is growing concern about officer-involved shootings or cases of excessive force when citizens are seriously hurt. People want to be sure they can trust their police to be accountable and transparent when those cases are investigated.
In San Jose voters are being asked to decide on a police reform issue called Measure G.
“I like the police. And I think I want to be able to call on them when I need them. But I’d like to see the reform happen, yes,” said Linda Sherry of Los Gatos.
“What’s critical about Measure G is the expansion of the police auditor’s responsibility over all police involved shootings and uses of force resulting in serious injury,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.
Measure G would make a change to the city charter to allow for expanding the powers of the Independent Police Auditor’s office.
If approved, the city council would then have to decide what exactly those powers are.
Mayor Liccardo wants to give the office full investigative authority.
“I proposed a couple of months ago to move investigations out of the police
department and into the police auditor’s office,” said Liccardo. “After the death of George Floyd, there is broad recognition that in major city police departments, there must be greater accountability, greater transparency, many officers will be the first to say this.”
In fact, the San Jose Police Union said it’s in favor of Measure G. However, the union’s membership is wary of the potential for anti-police bias in the auditor’s office.
“Reasonable oversight of our police department by a truly independent police auditor is something the POA supports,” said a statement from the Police Officers Association.
Over the years, San Jose’s Police Auditors have sought to expand their own oversight abilities, but those efforts have either died at the City Council level, or the auditors moved on before any changes were made.
This is the first-time voters will be allowed to weigh in. If approved, the measure would allow the first significant changes to the office since it was formed in 1993.