Outraged by hateful Facebook posts allegedly made by San Jose cops, Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen vowed to take what would be an unprecedented course of action.
“What I just read sickened me and made me sick for our entire community,” he said in response to a story published earlier this evening by San Jose Inside. “No one who expresses these type of disgusting, racist comments should ever wear a badge. This Office’s Conviction Integrity Unit will immediately begin a comprehensive review of every case in which these officers—active or retired—played a role. Anyone who writes this kind of trash has no role in our criminal justice system.”
Rosen is the third high-ranking official to react directly to SJI’s reporting on the matter.
In statements issued within minutes of each other, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia called for the investigation and firing of officers responsible for posting hate speech on social media.
“I have previously responded with discipline up to termination after an investigation into off duty online activity that runs counter to our standards of conduct,” Chief Garcia said. “While I have no control over what former employees post online, I can voice my outrage after hearing about these comments made online. Any current employee involved with bigoted activity online will promptly be investigated and held accountable to the fullest extent in my power. We have no place for this.”
The mayor echoed his outrage.
“I demand and expect a full investigation, and further expect that racist, anti-Muslim or menacing comments expressed by any current SJPD officer will be met with termination,” Liccardo said. “Our chief fired an officer for tweeting a similar statement in 2016, but an unaccountable arbitrator—immune from public or court review—reversed the termination, and forced the department to reinstate the officer. For that reason, as I articulated in my police reform proposal this week, I will push for changes to a disciplinary process that allows unaccountable arbitrators to reverse termination decisions of the Chief, and I will further push for independent investigation of all racially discriminatory conduct. This is precisely why these reforms are so important.”
Some hours later, Sgt. Paul Kelly—president of the San Jose Police Officers’ Association—joined the growing chorus of condemnation.
“I am announcing tonight that I am taking swift action against any member of the SJPOA that has participated in this online ring of hate because there is zero room in our department or our profession for racists, bigots or those that enable them,” he wrote in a statement emailed by a spokesman. “These are initial steps, more will follow in the coming days. To the community we serve, we are sincerely sorry and our actions must rise to meet this terrible stain on our profession.”
The plan of action, Kelly said, is as follows:
- Immediately file charges, pursuant to the union bylaws, to expel from membership in the San Jose Police Officers’ Association EVERY retired or active member participant in the Facebook group. As required by our bylaws, charged members must be provided an opportunity to establish that they should not be expelled by appealing to a three-person hearing committee.
- Immediately suspend any board members who are involved and file charges seeking to expel them from membership.
- The union has determined that the alleged conduct, if true, is NOT within the course and scope of any active member’s employment for the San Jose Police Department. Accordingly, the union will expend no monies and will offer no support to any involved officer in defending against any charges brought by the department.
- The union will take emergency steps to change its bylaws to create specific procedures that allows the board to immediately expel members in the future.