San Jose is getting a new Independent Police Auditor to balance power in our city. There was a community forum to discuss the hiring process, and three community members showed up, including me.
Corruption and imbalance exist because of our relationship with how we are raised in our environments, and though each environment varies, people that are in law enforcement are no different. The crazy stuff they have seen in their lives, in the streets plus, whatever they're going through in their present life sometimes makes for a bad roll of the life dice; brutal unjust beatings, killings, false reasoning for their actions, abuse of power and the list is long. Yet the process to hold them accountable sometimes can be disconnected from the community, the people they are protecting that aren’t out making dangerous choices and want peace in the streets.
The role of the Independent Police Auditor, is an office in our city government system that provides an independent review of complaints filed against officers. Without independent oversight, city interests tend to protect the law enforcement more than citizens. Investigations of complaints are ultimately decided by Internal Affairs which happen to be within the police department. The IPA office reviews the integrity of the investigation and offers policy recommendations to get at larger solutions that the complaints are stemming from. As our city, country and larger world has repeatedly seen stories of racially charged incidents that again led police to make bad decisions in the field and have been freed to walk -- we need accountability. Many of these critical incidents go unsolved or dropped or pushed so far that the public never hears of them.
This week, I attended an attempt from the City of San Jose to have a public meeting to discuss the process of hiring our new IPA. There were 3 members of the community including myself, one spanish translator (but there was no one to translate for) and two elder women that were passionate about the process. The lack of community attendance could be due to a number of issues -- poor marketing to the public, the public being too busy, too scared, or too hopeless to even attend because of the continual brushing off of unjust cases. Whatever the situation is it’s important that the community and families that have been treated unjustly should have a voice and a place in hiring this person. This will help them understand what's going on, the process from how they recruit, hire, and how to include their perspectives.
Tonight is the next forum:
April 20, 2017
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
San José City Hall
Wing Room 119
200 E. Santa Clara Street