San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo called for direct changes to city oversight and procedures concerning alleged predatory City employees being criminally investigated by the San Jose Police Department. Recent reports have shown that City employees who were actively being investigated by SJPD for alleged criminal acts were still working in their public-facing roles, potentially causing further harm to the community. While under state law City employees have the right to a full and fair investigation prior to any disciplinary actions, the City has a responsibility to mitigate further harm to the public pending results of investigations.
The Mayor is advocating for the Independent Police Auditor (IPA), City Manager and the City Auditor to work in coordination to review episodes of misconduct, SJPD and City response, and make recommendations for changes to policies to better protect the public, including clear triggers for when employees are pulled from their public facing roles and when investigations into alleged misconduct are accelerated.
“We must ensure that when a reasonable suspicion arises of serious misconduct by a City employee, no member of our community is subjected to a single hour of that predatory criminal conduct,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo wrote in the memo. “We must do better.”
Recently, two City employees, SJPD Officer Matthew Dominguez and former Code Enforcement Inspector William Gerry, were arrested and charged for separate criminal conduct. SJPD were actively investigating both incidents for months, however, each City employee continued working in their public-facing role, subjecting the community to further risk, rather than being placed on leave or reassigned.
Under Section 809 of the Charter, the Independent Police Auditor has the authority to review these incidents and make recommendations to the Mayor, Council, and City Manager concerning changes in policies and practices that will better protect the public.
In the case of Officer Dominguez recent arrest, there was also a credible allegation made by a 25-year old woman accusing him of sexual battery that had been reported, who referred the incident to SJPD Internal Affairs, and Campbell PD. The case remained open for several months, and Officer Dominugez was still on active duty.
Former San Jose Code Enforcement Inspector William Gerry was recently sentenced to 35 years in prison for his crimes of bribery, extortion, and sexual assault. According to the City Auditor’s Office’s account of the anonymous complaints brought to the City’s attention. After several complaints and a civil lawsuit, a San Jose City Attorney’s Office investigation led to a witness whose statements triggered the arrest of Mr. Gerry. Some of his criminal conduct occurred on the job after the first complaints were received in 2018. Although an audit was conducted of the incidents involving Mr. Gerry to review decisions by City management, there hasn’t been a review of the SJPD’s role, including what field investigation was conducted–beyond the interview of Mr. Gerry–upon the receipt of each of the four separate complaints and troubling photographic evidence. Most importantly, there appears to have been no coordination between SJPD and the City Manager needed to enable the City Manager to decide whether to place Mr. Gerry on leave pending further investigation.
Watch the mayor’s media availability here.