San Jose police chief 'disappointed' with criminal behavior of officers

San Jose's police chief on Tuesday said in a somber tone that he was "disappointed" with the criminal behavior of those in his department, singling out a rookie officer who died of a fentanyl overdose and another officer on leave for drinking alcohol on the job last month during the search for a kidnaped baby

At a news conference, police also revealed that another officer is on administrative leave as the department investigates allegations of sexual misconduct.

The revelations come as the state auditor also released a report highlighting instances of bias within the San Jose Police Department as it relates to women, people of color, immigrants and LGBTQ people. 

Police Chief Anthony Mata apologized to the community and specifically to the family of baby Brandon Cuellar, who was kidnapped at the end of April and then returned the next day. 

"I will not tolerate inappropriate behavior or criminal conduct when an officer violates the public's trust," Mata said. "They will be held accountable as these incidents are further investigated."

He said the police will share any relevant information with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

MORE: San Jose police officer DeJon Packer's death linked to 'substance abuse'

And if criminal conduct is found, Mata said, "there will be swift and appropriate action." 

Mata said he was not pleased to deliver this information, but he felt he had to "in the spirit of transparency."

"As the leader of this organization, I want the public to hear from me," Mata said. "And I also want to make it clear that I will not make any excuses for the criminal conduct of our police officers."

He added: "We are and should be held to a higher standard as what the public expects. And that's what I expect of our men and women of this department."

Assistant Chief Paul Joseph said he would not elaborate on how it became known that the officer was drinking alcohol during his shift to canvas the neighborhood and look for witnesses and evidence during the search for the baby on April 26, the day the 3-month-old was eventually found. 

Over the weekend, it was also revealed that San Jose rookie officer DeJon Packer died of substance abuse of fentanyl toxicity.  He died at his home in Milpitas, and the police department there is investigating the circumstances of his death. 

Mayor Sam Liccardo stood by Mata's side during the news conference. He announced that he wanted the city to have the ability to conduct random drug tests of officers, which is now forbidden by the Police Officer Association contract, which is up on June 30. 

"That's something that we don't have the ability to unilaterally impose," Liccardo said. "So it's something that will be discussed with the police Officers Association in our upcoming contract negotiations….For many years, there's been a provision in place that limits that drug testing considerably. It is my desire to ensure that we have a provision that enables broad random drug and alcohol testing throughout the department." 

Union president Sean Pritchard said in a statement to the Mercury News that the SJPOA "welcomes the opportunity to strengthen substance abuse testing for all sworn members, from the Chief to the Cadets in the academy" and that they will "seek a fair and transparent testing policy, as well as an increase to mental health resources for any member seeking help."

"There are no words to express our utter disappointment with the indefensible actions of this officer that have dishonored our profession by his irresponsible and dangerous disregard for his duty; he should be held accountable," Pritchard added.