Council to Decide IPA’s Job Status

In closed session Tuesday morning, the City Council will discuss the work of Judge LaDoris Cordell, San Jose’s Independent Police Auditor since April 2010. The discussion between the mayor and 10-member council will focus on whether or not to grant Cordell a 4-year term.

Cordell came into the position after a series of poor selections left the job looking like a turnstyle.

Inheriting the final 2 ½ years of a term that began with Barbara Attard, Cordell was immediately forced to handle a crisis when Bobbie Lopez, former president of the Police Officers Association, boasted that he had a spy in the IPA office. An investigation determined that claim to be false.

Since then, crime has risen the past two years in San Jose as the ranks have diminished, but it seems some level of trust has been restored. The IPA’s office conducted far more outreach while taking steps to quell many of the criticisms that plagued the San Jose Police Department upon Cordell’s arrival, such as aggressive street policing and racial profiling. She also has taken a hard line on delays in Internal Affairs investigations, the policy of curb sitting and equipping officers’ uniforms with small cameras.

In addition, Cordell formed a collegial relationship with Police Chief Chris Moore, which was unheard of in past IPA-Chief dealings.

Cordell said she was “very sad” about Moore’s decision to retire from his post at the end of January 2013. The end of her term will occur Dec. 31.

“My time is up in December, and I’ve been asked by some people on the council what I want to do,” Cordell said. “I told them I’d certainly consider another term.”

Cordell said she received a performance review in the spring. As of Monday morning, she had not been invited to the closed session meeting. The discussion is being held behind closed doors because it is a personnel matter, City Attorney Rich Doyle said.

Regardless of what the council decides, the decision will be announced in a public session.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

30 Comments

  1. Council, please do not extend her a second term. I know a SCC Deputy that informed me that she would remove any bailiff (for various cause) from her courtroom that wasn’t African American; this was confirmed by another deputy, unassociated to the first. This is strict racism…. and unacceptable

  2. Regardless of whether or not some view her tenure as a salve to hurt feelings among various special interest groups, the reality has been that her tenure has been a disaster and her actions a source of division and distrust within the police department. She has intruded herself into the disciplinary process in a way which can only be described as meddling. She has attempted to force discipline, directed Internal Affairs investigations, and undermined the integrity and cohesiveness of the police department. And her ‘outreach’ has largely consisted of encouraging the public to complain against officers for even incosequential reasons and suggesting that discipline should be handed down for even inconsequential infractions. Even a casual reading of the City Charter sections which describe her job would inform her that her interference in disciplinary matters falls well outside the mandate described when the charter amendment was voted into law.

    Unfortunately, she has committed the same kinds of offenses which caused her predecessors to be canned: overreaching beyond the limits of the charter mandate and causing needless conflict within the rank-and-file. And, just as unfortunately, her affiliations with various special interests should have immediately raised questions about her ability to be genuinely independent and impartial – the ACLU has been at odds with law enforcement in general and SJPD in specific far more often than it has been supportive, for instance. But, those affiliations were ignored.

    Her subsequent actions have proven that she was unable to limit her professional rhetoric and conduct to be consistent with her charter mandate: that she limit her activities to oversight and review of disciplinary proceedings, making recommendations about SJPD policies and procedures with respect to discipline, and to conduct community outreach to help people with the complaint and investigation process. Nowhere does it say that she should sit in on, or direct, disciplinary interviews or that she should make recommendation – or, worse, demands – about what discipline is handed down.

    The sad truth, though, is that, because she embodies a couple different minority/entitlement groups, she is unlikely to be dismissed, as she ought to be given her failure to consistently fulfill the mandate of her position.

  3. Come to think about, whatever happened to Curly’s pension reform for the city council. I think it’s been over a year since the double dipper made the case. Maybe it was to expensive to get rid of the CalPERS benefit, so they made the tough decision to keep the retirement.

    Did you see him last night calling Richard Santos a double dipper on KNTV.

    The Republican double dipper hypocrite.

    • wasn’t that great!  How does he respond to his district members with the rash of home robberies.

      No Burglary Unit – Dispanded
      No patrol response to cold home break-in’s
      No response to alarms – unless in progress

      Just call 311 and report your loss if you need a case number
      Contact your insurance

      Vote for me again, because all of the council are doing a great job dispite passing Measure B.

  4. Josh, you said, “Inheriting the final 2 ½ years of a term that began with Barbara Attard, Cordell was immediately forced to handle a crisis when Bobbie Lopez, former president of the Police Officers Association, boasted that he had a spy in the IPA office. An investigation determined that claim to be false.”

    What a cheap shot Josh! First of all, the allegation made by Skyler of the ACLU that Bobby told her he had a spy in the IPA’s Office was NEVER substantiated.

    Secondly, as a matter of fact, if memory serves me correctly, the IPA’s Office completely vindicated Bobby of any wrong doing.

    What’s the matter Josh, didn’t you take the time to read the full investigation findings that the IPA’s Office posted on this issue?

    Josh, you disappoint me. Quoting the Murkey news! Wow! I thought better of you.

    • A sarcastic dismissive response by Bobby Lopez to an ACLU ticket puncher became a “crisis”
      That says so much about the dysfunction of the IPA, City Hall, and the San Jose Police Department.

      And shame on SJI for perpetuating the madness.

      Josh, hasn’t the IPA been busy soliciting complaints against the police from the HENCHMEN outlaw motorcycle gang? Something about profiling?
      Looks like she’s doing a great job…..#34.

  5. Why is it that no mention is ever made of Cordell’s “double-dipper” status – as a “retired judge” she gets a defined benefit payout from CalPERS administered Judge’s retirement plan. Currently the taxpayers in San Jose are paying into a new CalPERS plan on her behalf (in 2011 we paid $60k towards a second CalPERS Retirement). If her contract is renewed by the council she only has to serve one more year to be “vested” in her “new” retirement system.

    why does she get a pass in the pension debate?

  6. Meyer Weed good point. The media hates to let the facts cloud things up….. Cordell is a huge waste of taxpayer money and is another component of the SJPD being drug through the mud. Is the average SJ citizen really that outraged about police and their conduct ie use of force, curb sitting etc…. Last time I checked the majority of people seated on the curb are gang members who are told to sit and cross their legs this all based on probable cause for legal detention. When was the last time ANYONE has seen an African American business man in a suit sitting on the curb because his license is suspended. The minority fringe gets all the media attention and the attention of gang of 5! This city is going to hell ….. Hang on the ride has just begun. The people are soon to be getting what they asked for (or what they didnt vote on) Shame on the uninformed citizens of San Jose! Shame on you!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I have a request of you Officers posting on the topic of curb sitting. Could you please tell us why you do that, instead of having the person you are interviewing sit in the back of the car while you run a background check on them?

      The truth is, that the public IS ignorant of what dangers you face in your line of work everyday. Now is your chance to educate us on the facts!

      Thank you.

      • Used to have people stopped lean on the front fender or sit on the front bumper until someone complained to IPA#1 Therese Gurrero-Daly that sitting on teh fender was causing persons backsides to suffer minor burns due to engine heat. Then someone complained that sitting on the front bumper in front of one of the headlights burned thier lower back…out of this came an order not to have persons “fender lean and bumper sit.”

        Placing a person in the backseat or anywhere in the car restricts freedom of movement which might turn a “detention” into an arrest.

        Sitting a person on the curb provides a marginal level of control over a persons movement and “early warning” signs of potential assaultive behavior. It has absolutley NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PERSONS RACE.

    • Josh,
      Has SJI ever considered allowing a beat Officer, not a higher up, to write a column educating the public on Police policy and procedure? 

      Thereliableinformer has a very real point to consider. Why isn’t the public better informed on Police practices?

      I think if an Officer was allowed to do a Q/A column, and/or a column on issues like curb sitting here on SJI, we’d be much more educated on the issues Judge Cordell is requesting changes to.

      I commend and appreciate Officer Anonymous for writing a post which clearly educated us all on facts I never knew about, nor have read about anywhere. I now understand why Officers are angry and frustrated with lay people, such as Judge Cordell, requesting changes to law enforcement policies which would endanger Officers on the street!

      • Kathleen, thank you for suggesting this idea. Personally, I would be more than happy to interview and work on a Q&A with Josh or another reporter from SJI, assuming a couple of preconditions were met. It would have to be understood that much of the conversation would have to focus on anecdotal experience and policies, procedures, safety practices, etc. and that I was speaking simply as a citizen who happens to be a police officer, and NOT as an official representative of the PD. As such, my goal would be to offer personal perspective and a snapshot view of life as a police officer.

        I think that it would be illuminating for the public to have an idea of some of the crazy and horrifying things I’ve seen, the weird stuff, the funny stuff. I could talk about the injuries and surgeries I’ve had and expect to have the result of my 12 year (so far) career. And, I can assure you that I’d respond to the Q&A portion promptly and respond to follow-up questions unlike certain public officials I think we can all name.

        • Officer Anonymous,
          In my profession as a mediator/arbitrator of 30 years, I am often surprised to learn that some professionals really are ignorant of what the job of others in their same profession entails. That is why I have designed a course in Work styles, that requires students to walk a mile in their co-worker’s shoes.

          Honestly, because I have found few people even know what it is like to do a co-workers job, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t assume anything anymore.

      • One other thing on your post, Kathleen:

        I don’t think it’s fair or accurate to categorize Judge Cordell as a lay person. She is absolutely not a lay person. In her capacity as a judge and (by most accounts) an extremely intelligent person, she absolutely could – and should – have been able to comprehend how unsafe and unfair to officers the curb-sitting policy she spearheaded is. She must be entirely aware of how officers must be careful to avoid the appearance of having made an unlawful detention or arrest. She must also have been aware of the hazards to an officer which can arise as a result of not controlling the actions and movements of the persons with whom they come into contact.

        No. this policy is not the result of the actions or beliefs of a lay person who didn’t understand the risks of the policy she advocated. It is the result of a Police Chief too weak to say ‘Go to hell’ to her when it was entirely appropriate to do so and of an IPA with an agenda (as every previous IPA has also had), an IPA who, by her actions, is clearly willing to treat police officers as a disposable commodity in her pursuit of a policy which panders to malcontents and criminals and sacrifices officers’ safety and peace of mind on the altar of political correctness and the appeasement of the entitled.

  7. Kathleen, that’s a really good question and the answers have a lot to do with the outrage we felt at the new policy and why Judge Cordell enjoys little – if any – respect with the vast majority of the officers remaining with SJPD.

    Primarily, the practice of having an individual sitting on a curb arose out of officer safety considerations.

    1. If the detainees outnumber the officers – as is often the case – having them sit on the curb with their legs crossed makes it harder for them to get up and try to run away or assault an officer

    2. If the detainee(s) have exhibited prior aggressive behavior, it is a good intermediate step prior to placing them in handcuffs and securing them in a patrol car

    3. If you have to interview a detainee, it can often be hard to conduct the interview of the detainee when he or she is in the back of the car. Especially if the car and/or A/C are running, the background noise can cause voices to be drowned out and difficult to understand.

    4. If a detainee is in a patrol car and an interview with that subject is ongoing, it places the officer in a situation where his situational/environmental awareness is rather narrowed to the area of the car – especially as with ‘3’ above. Collapsing situational awareness is extremely dangerous for an officer; he or she might not hear someone else approach, might not see an approaching car (officers are constantly in danger of being hit by cars driven by passersby or associates of the detainee), might not realize that a confederate of the detainee is approaching. These are all dangerous conditions to be avoided if at all possible.

    I am not aware of any officer asking or instructing a detainee to sit on a curb on the basis of some kind of bias. It is minimally intrusive, far less uncomfortable, for the most part, than handcuffs, and is consistent with the duty manual which states that subjects placed in the prisoner cage of a patrol car are to also be placed in handcuffs. It is certainly not intended to be an embarrassing or humiliating experience, and, if it becomes so for a detainee, I would say that’s a small price to pay for doing our utmost to maximize officer safety.

    Chris Moore lost a lot of respect within the department for allowing himself to be cowed by Judge Cordell in this matter. As well, because of her ill-informed interference and blatant pandering, Judge Cordell went from being somewhat disliked and distrusted to being almost universally distrusted and, I daresay, even hated. I, at least, am disgusted by how she influenced this policy change, clearly entirely comfortable with sacrificing officer safety on the altar of political correctness. But then, considering her credentials, none of us should have been surprised.

    • Officer Anonymous,
      I want to thank you for taking the time to explain the use of curb sitting to us. It was really eye opening!

      I just read your post aloud to two of my male friends. (BTW-They were not opposed to Police using curb sitting.) All three of us are surprised that Chief Moore would agree to change this policy, and put his men/women in danger like this.

      I’m sorry for my ignorance but, what has it been changed to now? In what ways does the new policy endanger the Officer? Does the new policy endanger the public in any way we should know about?

      • Kathleen,

        It really does something like create a no-win scenario for officers. They can cuff and place a person in the back of the patrol car, in order to create a materially safer situation. However, at that point, it could be perceived as an arrest instead of a detention, as Meyer Weed observed. This opens the officer up to potential civil liability for an unlawful detention/arrest.

        The other alternative is to ignore the idiotic policy that the pandering IPA (ask me how I really feel about her) spearheaded and to simply sit a person on the curb as had been done in the past in response to the other changes Meyer Weed also observed. It’s safer than letting them simply stand willy-nilly and running the risk of an assault of foot chase, minimally intrusive, and unlikely to land you in a Federal Courthouse.

        Unfortunately, you’ll probably also face discipline if someone complains. However, faced with a choice of accepting a fundamentally unsafe set of conditions surrounding the contact with an individual(s), landing in federal court on a civil rights violation,  or dealing with internal discipline, I think you can guess what most officers would choose.

        I am not sure the new policy endangers the public – unless the officer chooses to simply let the person contacted stand willy-nilly. In that case, the dangers to the public is much the same as with the officer: possibilities of an assault, a dangerous person running away and trying to break into someone’s home to effect their escape, and a few other unpleasant scenarios. Really, the new policy is bad simply because it places officers in an untenable situation.

    • I’m not an officer, but I entirely agree with the positions stated and find them very reasonable. Judge Cordell’s position on curb sitting is completely baseless, irrational and without merit. 

      If she is given another term by this council, then yet another reason will be given to officers to leave.

  8. I hear the ringing of gun retailer cash registers wafting through the air.  Certain criminals should be very afraid of what they might run into!

  9. The real issue is what has the IPA done of value. Nothing more than silly policy changes that have amounted to nothing. In reality all they did was outline policies that were for the most part already in effect. The IPA cost the city millions and does nothing of Value.  Why the council seem to enjoy the IPA is beyond logic it does nothing of value. When there is real misconduct it is always handled by the police administration or the DA’s office.
      The IPA is a waste of Tax payer funds get rid of it now. Oh wait that would make sense instead Reed and the council will keep the IPA because making a real decision is far to hard for them.

  10. Kathleen

    Alot of these upstanding citizens Like to soil themselves in the back of a patrol car , or ambulance. Yes , on purpose. What about spitting saliva or Blood on P.D. & Emergency Services . Its a side of the Job that most people dont even think about.

    • DISGUSTED IN SAN JOSE,
      How come none of these things are made public knowledge? I honestly think if more people were made aware of, and educated by Officers like you, then these changes in policy wouldn’t be allowed.

  11. She started off with the office under observation because of a mole, with then Union Leader Bobby Chavez. She used a white lady as a scapegoat, who had only met Bobby once. 

    But why would anyone let the incompetent council decide on anything.  We need an IPA to watch the council.. Maybe when Pete lies on his time sheet again, or PLO steals signs or the mayor lies about 650 million we would have and independent point it out to us instead of NBC News.

  12. ET smokey is a little senile sometimes. He meant Bobby Lopez.

    Going back to what Ddavidd said…. yes IPA is a waste of money then why does the council support her. THIS IS WHY! She is a check off box and there for CYA purposes so that the city council can look good to the minority fringe of “activist” This city council panders to the minority of (most likely non tax paying) groups that do not like the police period. She is there so they can say that she is doing something to hedge all the corruption. Wow what a load of dung that is …. You want police corruption go to Baltimore, Detroit or Miami. San Jose has been a proactive crime fighting department that has done more with less for years. Those days are over folks the pipe dream has come to an end. Its truly a sad state of affairs when there are 5 homicides in a weekend and Oakland activists are protesting over someone shot by police or when SFPD gets in a foot pursuit with a KNOWN gang member carrying a loaded 30 round mag Tec9 weapon! Good citizens should be outraged and disgusted by this and disgusted by the media’s constant sensationalization of these stories (dirty stories make for good ratings) But the good citizens sit back on their hands while their houses and vehicles are burglarized and stolen. Stores, banks, and people robbed on the street at gunpoint. Where is the anger? Why dont people protest and back the police? The complacent voter in SJ just sits back and does NOTHING! Yet Chuck Pete and Rose love to spew the lies that voters “overwhelmingly” passed Measure B … lies lies lies How many people live in SJ maybe just over a million. How many people actually voted. Maybe 60,000… How many people voted yes on B? 40,000… So 40,000 out of a million was overwhelming. Truly the number of registered voters is not a million but it is FAR more than 60,000! MORE bad math being peddled by the 5 thieves in the tower.