San Jose PD Adds New Scrutiny to Use of Force

In the past, reviews of most nonfatal use-of-force encounters were prompted by formal citizen complaints. Police supervisors will now be expected to launch investigations on their own based on reports from the field.

In a groundbreaking move inspired by public oversight, the San Jose Police Department will step up reviews of officers’ use of force and intensify investigations into the most serious cases, reports the Mercury News. Until now, the department only reviewed most nonfatal use-of-force encounters in response to a citizen’s complaint filed through formal channels. Police supervisors and commanders will now be expected to launch force investigations on their own based on reports from the field. Those violent encounters will be graded on a new four-tier scale where a higher risk of injury or death triggers increased scrutiny.

Chief Eddie Garcia said the policy was crafted in consultation with the police union to ensure maximum buy-in from his rank-and-file officers amid a national landscape marked by skepticism about police actions in minority communities. He acknowledged that the department’s practices for reviewing violent incidents needed updating. “This is long overdue. We had blind spots. Our policy was too reactive,” Garcia said. “This doesn’t mean we’re automatically going to find that (an officer) did something wrong, but we’re going to scrutinize it with a sharper lens.