By Jacob Simas, New America Media
SAN JOSE - In the coming months, San Jose City Manager Debra Figone is expected to name the next chief of police, and South Bay residents want to make sure their voices are heard on the matter. Although the city organized public forums back in August to do just that, those events were not very well attended, prompting community organizers in San Jose to host their own series of meetings where the city’s immigrant and non-English-speaking residents would have a greater voice in the conversation.
Spanish-language newspaper El Mensajero reports that one such meeting took place at the end of October at the Tully Library, and was conducted entirely in Spanish.
At that meeting, Latino immigrants discussed cases of police brutality that they had heard of, seen or experienced firsthand. They spoke about Jorge Trujillo, who died in 2006 after being attacked by two youth in the streets of San Jose and then encountering police who used batons and stun guns to subdue him.
Following the string of testimonies, residents made some general recommendations to the police department that they said would reduce the number of future incidents, and suggested some personal qualities they would like to see in their next police chief. Those suggestions included having a police chief who is more compassionate and less tolerant of the use of force, who is willing to develop relationships with all members of the San Jose community regardless of class, race or politics, and who is committed to immigration reform. Residents also cited the need for more accountability in the department by developing a consistent system of disciplining officers who are found to use excessive force.