Independent audit of San Jose police shows complaints against officers continue to rise

A new independent audit of the San Jose Police Department shows complaints against officers have continued to rise over the last three years. The Independent Audit was established in 2020 in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. 

This independent auditor reports to the city council and presents the data. Now the police dept. and local advocates are talking about how they view the information.  

"I think partially people are more likely to report a complaint than perhaps they were in the past because they see it not being addressed," said Sandra Asher, a member of Sacred Heart's Showing up for Racial Justice committee. 

Sandra Asher is a member of Sacred Heart’s Showing up for Racial Justice committee and believes some of the data shows that San Jose Police aren’t doing enough to implement the hundreds of recommendations they’ve received over the last five years.  

 "It’s like a two-year process to get them, after we’ve recommended them, to get them to start thinking and talking about implementing things. So just moving faster," Asher said.   

According to the latest Police Improvements Report, the Dept. has implemented about half of the 500+ recommendations made by the Reimagining Public Safety Committee. Still this year’s independent audit shows that complaints against officers have continued to rise.   

In 2019, 289 officers received at least one complaint. In 2020, that number rose to 348. By 2022, 361 officers received at least one complaint.  The 2021 audit report only provided updates on recommended police reforms and data was not provided for complaints.  

In response to this year's audit, San Jose Police released this statement, saying:

"The IPA report illustrates how the Department is holding personnel accountable for conduct. The Department's percentage of complaints received, compared to total calls for service has increased 0.01% from 2021 to 2022. 

In 2021 there were 348 Officers that received complaints, with 12% of complaints sustained. Internal Affairs closed 262 complaints.

In 2022 there were 362 Officers that received complaints, with 18% of complaints sustained, an increase of 6%. Internal Affairs closed 203 complaints, a decrease of 59.

In 2021 Officers responded to 378,829 calls for service, and the Department received 333 complaints. This equates to .09% complaint percentage. 

In 2022 Officers responded to 371,463 calls for service, and the Department received 358 complaints, an increase of 25. This equates to 0.10% complaint percentage, an increase of .01% from 2021." - San Jose Police Dept. 

Asher says an increase in complaints, even a small number from year to year, means more involvement from local leadership is needed.

"I would like to see the City Council step up and remember that they are in charge, that the Police Officers Union is not in charge, and they are charge. They need to mediate in good faith, but I think we need to focus on a culture change," Asher said.