The mayor of San Jose, California, said on Sunday he is against the so-called defund police movement that’s taken root in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died at the hands of the Minneapolis police, saying it would hurt the communities activists say they want to help.
Mayor Sam Liccardo said cutting police budgets would also hurt police reform efforts.
“We have much work to do to confront our long and terrible history of police brutality against black and brown Americans,” Liccardo said. “Defunding urban police departments won’t help us do it. It is the wrong idea at the worst possible time and the budget released tomorrow will reflect that.”
“Defunding police will hurt the very people who have suffered the most from systemic racism in this nation,” Liccardo said. “Rich, white communities and businesses in suburban malls will just accelerate the hiring of private security guards.”
The local news station KRON reported on the mayor’s stance:
Liccardo said data shows that communities of color are disproportionate victims of serious and violent crimes, citing the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Last week, Liccardo called for a ban on the use of rubber bullets in crowds at protests, expanding the authority of San Jose’s civilian independent police auditor, and a full review of San Jose’s use of force policies, among other measures.
The mayor has also called for greater accountability for officer misconduct so “bad cops” can be fired faster, he said.
Liccardo said police in San Jose, the 10th largest city in the United States, has made progress, including “longstanding disparity between officers’ use of force rates and arrest rates against persons of color” and police union contracts and laws that impede accountability and firing “bad cops.”
Some of the police reforms include:
- Collecting data to track every patdown, stop, arrest or use of force by race, and publishing that data;
- Hiring external experts to analyze data and make recommendations;
- Investing millions of dollars in body-worn cameras and video data storage;
- Imposing mandatory training for officers in violence de-escalation and racial bias;
- Utilizing data tools to detect misconduct-prone officers earlier;
- Enhancing psychological testing and screening in the city’s police academies; and
- Recruiting officers to better reflect the community’s diversity.
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