SJ Police use of force under review

November 3, 2009 8:03:19 PM PST
The use of force by the San Jose Police Department is under intense review. Recent cell phone video captured the arrest of a San Jose State student which raised questions about excessive force by the officers -- and this isn't the first such case.

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The mayor and the City Council want some answers.

Scott Wright considers himself a victim of the San Jose Police Department. Last year, three officers used batons and a Taser on Wright. Police accused Wright of resisting arrest, but that charge was eventually dropped.

"They were using both hands; as much power as they could put into it. I had bruises up and down my body," he said.

This recent cell phone video captured a similar scene during the arrest of a San Jose State University student and reignited outrage over excessive force.

Community activists have been demanding changes at the San Jose Police Department for years. Now the call for action is coming from inside City Hall.

San Jose City Council unanimously agreed today to move forward with public meetings on the issue of police conduct.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed says questions need to be answered in an open forum.

"We need to look at those resisting arrest cases and determine whether they were done appropriately, whether or not training is necessary or whether or not people are following protocols," said Reed.

Police say out of 36,000 arrests each year, less than 4 percent involve the use of force. An independent analysis of the arrest data is underway.

"We have a number of initiatives already ongoing regarding force and some other policies and procedures we have in place," said Assistant Chief Dan Katz.

Police procedure will certainly be under the microscope on Wednesday. The rules and open government committee could decide to release the 911 tapes and other information in this year's controversial officer shooting of Daniel Pham, a Vietnamese man with mental health issues.

Wright says his opinion of police is already formed.

"I consider them a gang of thugs with badges. They are just gang bangers with badges to me," he said.

This month, 72 San Jose police officers will become the first in the nation to wear a special video camera headset designed to capture all the action during an arrest.

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