SAN JOSE (KPIX) – The mayor of San Jose unveiled plans for police reform in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, which saw several protesters and observers injured by officers.
“I am quite willing to bet that San Jose has some of the finest police officers in the country,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “But our community expects us to do better and we are committed to doing better.”
Liccardo said he is not in favor of defunding the police department. Instead, he outlined a plan that would ban rubber bullets for crowd control, provide for independent investigation of misconduct, expand the authority of the Police Auditor, and give the mayor authority over the police chief.
It would also bring transparency to arbitration when officers get disciplined or fired.
“Unaccountable arbitrators are overturning decisions to terminate police officers,” Liccardo said.
San Jose Police called it a war zone when a Black Lives Matter protest on May 30 turned violent.
As police tried to clear the crowd, some protesters threw rocks and bottles at officers. Police responded with tear gas, flash bang explosives and by shooting into the crowd with rubber bullets, injuring several innocent people.
The police union had a cautious reaction to the mayor’s plan.
“We welcome working with Mayor Liccardo in improving outcomes between the community and the police,” said union Vice President Sean Pritchard.
Black leaders say the mayor is not going far enough.
“The youth are out there every day fighting for something different, not to repackage and repurpose it,” said Rev. Jethroe Moore, President of the NAACP of Silicon Valley.
One person who was shot by a rubber bullet while acting as an official legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild, says more drastic changes are called for.
“All of the training that allowed them to shoot all of us like they were in a video game willy-nilly. That all starts with the chief and the mayor is not addressing any of that,” said Shaunn Cartwright of San Jose.
Mayor Liccardo said the city council will take up the proposal to ban rubber bullets for crowd control at its August 4 meeting.