Direction from Mayor, Council leads to increased transparency from police incidents

City of San Jose logoOn Nov. 10, the San Jose City Council approved a new procedure that allows the City Council to direct the City Manager to publicly release video footage from police incidents that are of “extraordinary public interest”. This new directive comes from a memo to Council by Mayor Liccardo, Vice Mayor Jones, Councilmembers Peralez, Diep, and Carrasco on June 9 and a subsequent memo from Mayor Liccardo on August 26 calling for the release of video footage from body-worn cameras (BWC) surrounding incidents during protests after the death of George Floyd.

“I look forward to the immediate benefit of the increased transparency and accountability from this initiative, which I proposed in June, as we work to improve public trust in our police and to build community partnership in their very difficult and important work in protecting our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo.

San Jose Police Department includes a Duty Manual section that requires the release of body-worn camera footage for incidents that the City Council deems to be “police incidents of extraordinary public interest.” Paired with the proposal to be voted on today, the City Council will have the power to direct the immediate dispensation of video footage from these incidents. This action comes after continued requests from Mayor Liccardo to release BWC footage from recent protests.

In January of 2019, the City received a Public Records Act request from the Bay Area News Group and KQED, for officer misconduct and use of force documents under California’s new law enforcement transparency law, SB1421. As reported in the Mercury News, the city staff estimated that it would take 4 years to produce the 86 records, and after 11 months, produced only one case. The Mayor advocated for an expedited schedule and a more rapid production of records. Today’s proposal will ensure that a permanent process will be put into place to secure continued, speedy, transparency.