San José wants to limit city bodies that can discuss police reform
San Jose activists on Monday pushed back the city’s top administrators who want to exclude them from a police reform process.
In a letter sent Friday to Fred Ferrer, chairman of the Charter Review Board, City Manager Jennifer Maguire advised leaving policing matters to the Community Advisory Committee Reimagining the City’s Public Safety, a 46 member group of leaders of different non-profit groups and activists whose main mission is to deal with police reform and oversight.
The 23-member Charter Review Commission recommends changes to the San José Charter, which serves as the city’s constitution and determines the powers of the mayor and how residents vote.
The commission ultimately decided not to respond to the letter at Monday’s meeting, but not before hearing angry residents.
“I think the letter that was written by the city manager was honestly cheesy and shows their hidden intentions to silence the community,” said Pamela Emanuel, vice president of the non-profit group BLACK Outreach SJ. new here today to say that’s what the community wants I don’t understand how many times we have to shout it in your face.
In his letter, Maguire wrote that having too many city organs to analyze police reform would result in less public engagement. She called for the topic to be limited to specific entities such as the city council, the security advisory committee and the independent police auditor.
Maguire told the San José Spotlight that she just wanted commissioners to be made aware of the other “efforts currently underway to reinvent the police in San José.”
“I also gave my perspective on how best to coordinate these efforts to engage our residents on this important issue,” she said.
Commissioner Magnolia Segol, who heads a subcommittee on policing, said the letter was a “shock”. She says Maguire did not consult her or the Security Advisory Committee before sending the letter, published Friday night.
“(Maguire) has not obtained (Reimagining Public Safety) permission to comment publicly on their process or wishes. If she had, she would have learned that the Charter Review Commission subcommittee was following the recommendations of Reimagining Public Safety, ”Segol said. “The Reimagining Public Safety committee and our subcommittee are symbiotic. “
The Public Safety Advisory Committee, formed last year following the murder of George Floyd, has sought to examine issues relating to police reform. But the committee has run into problems, with a number of high-profile resignations due to its perceived lack of focus. The group reformed the committee in June after consulting with various community groups.
Several members of the advisory committee were concerned that stopping their review of police reform would avoid residents’ voices and reduce police oversight.
“The city manager says the study on police surveillance conflicts with the mission of the reimagination committee. I don’t agree, ”said Sandra Asher, committee member. “I am convinced that our two entities should collaborate on this issue. Our communities are counting on us to work together to defend true police responsibility. The life of our community depends on it.
Activists have criticized the San Jose Police Department in recent months for paying its officers millions of dollars in overtime over the past decade, its treatment of residents during the Black Lives Matter protests in May 2020 and the Police Chief Anthony Mata’s failure to support a transgender officer he worked with.
The Charter Review Commission has recently played an active role in discussions on police reform. He already discussed a possible amendment to the city’s charter last week that pushes to include racial and social justice standards for budgets and major political decisions to ensure that groups such as racial and ethnic minorities are not disproportionately harmed by the proposed laws.
“After all the difficulties community leaders have had in pushing for a real community process of the Public Safety Reinvention Committee, did the City Manager release this letter without even consulting this community-led group? ? If not, why not? Aaron Zisser, a former independent San José Police Auditor, told the San José Spotlight. “Given the importance of this topic and given where we are in terms of policing review, why not put it high in the Charter review process and of the Reimagining Public Safety Committee? The two efforts can be mutually reinforcing.
Although dozens of residents opposed Maguire’s letter, a handful of speakers backed the city manager’s statements.
“I support the CEO in the sense that there is another group working on this,” said Sandra, who did not give her last name. “Let this group finish their work. If this group is dysfunctional or not functioning properly, let’s fix this committee. If you decide to continue, let’s make sure we have a balanced entry as well.
Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.