Data show San Jose police rarely face discipline for serious use of force

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The calls for police reform are growing stronger in San Jose after a report found that officers are rarely disciplined for serious use of force.

Between 2014 and 2018, there were only three instances where officers faced discipline after using serious force on civilians.

“If you’re seeing that within a department our size and you’re not seeing a significant number of either alleged use of force where there actually is discipline our size then I think it’s worth questioning,” said San Jose City Councilmember and former police officer Raul Perales. “It could be that we have obviously officers that are justified in the amount of force that they’re using. But certainly it’s worth questioning to determine: is that the case, or is there something else that we’re not seeing?”

The discipline data was only released after a lawsuit by the Mercury News.

In one such case, an 18-year-old man suffered a collapsed lung after an encounter with an officer where he was on the ground and complained he could not breathe.

“I don’t pretend to know individual details of any specific case,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “But there’s no question now that we have moved beyond the point in the United States of America where we simply believe that the police can police themselves.”

The Mayor says that is why he supports Measure G, an a police reform bill facing voters in November that would expand the powers of the independent police auditor, so that there is greater accountability.

San Jose police say using force is an unfortunate reality for officers, and that just because there is a serious use of force, it does not mean that the officer’s actions were not justified.