Rules to Discuss Confidential Police Arbitration Records Request

A Menlo Park cop’s fling with a prostitute prompted one local newspaper reporter to dig a little deeper, extending her investigation to San Jose. Sandy Brundage, of local South Bay weekly the Almanac, wrote a story about how Officer Jeffrey Vasquez, 46, of the Menlo Park Police Department, got caught with his pants down (well, off, technically) in a Sunnyvale Motel 6 with a catsuit-clad sex worker, who answered the door with a bunch of $20 bills stashed in her cleavage.

Apparently, per court records cited by Brundage, the detective got bored, looked up 32-year-old Natalia Ramirez on and met up for a little motel room rendezvous. Unluckily for Vasquez, a Sunnyvale officer had Ramirez under surveillance. Once the arresting officer ran the Vasquez’s driver’s license, he realized he was citing a fellow policeman.

“Asked why he didn’t immediately identify himself as a police officer, Detective Vasquez reportedly responded, ‘I don’t want to be a dick and ask for preferential treatment,’” Brundage writes.

Vasquez was reinstated to his job late last year, after San Mateo County courts dropped the case, according to Brundage’s story published in January.

This tale doesn’t have anything directly to do with San Jose, per se but Brundage’s investigation into confidential police arbitration cases led her to file records requests in other cities, including San Jose. The city’s Rules and Open Government Committee seems ready to deny her second request, according to the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting.

“As you know, I’ve been researching binding arbitration decisions in police misconduct cases throughout the state,” Brundage wrote to the city on March 25. “Does San Jose maintain copies of the cases and arbitrators rulings?”

If San Jose does keep copies, she continues, could she see at least redacted version of the decisions?

Sorry, no can do, says city public records manager Tom Norris.

“The city will not be providing you with the records you have requested,” Norris writes in response. He can, however, provide discipline logs with the number, type and disposition of complaints against San Jose officers, he offers.

More from the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for May 22, 2013:

• For the past year now, the city’s been trying to come up with some better ways to deal with its homeless residents. It hired a new project manager to deal with the legal complexities presented by homeless encampments in 2012. And to this day, it’s trying to re-shape policies and strategies to better deal with the problem.

The Rules Committee will add an update on homeless programs and its search for outside firms to help deal with local homelessness to the agenda of an upcoming Neighborhood Services and Education Committee meeting.

• Councilmembers Sam Liccardo, Rose Herrerra and Johnny Khamis want to make it easier to install speed bumps and other traffic-calming devices. They’re asking the city to look into changing protocol to allow engineers to skip certain studies, which bogs down the process. They also want to look into ways to make it simpler for neighborhoods to fund their own speed bumps or other traffic controls.

• David Wall harps on the Santa Clara San Jose Water Pollution Control Plant’s advisory board for collecting $100 stipends while “sitting around on their collective dead-asses of non-performance.” There’s more. Read the rest of Wall’s letter to the public record.

WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

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