San Jose mayor rejects push to defund police department, introduces reforms instead

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Mayor Sam Liccardo is coming out against defunding San Jose's police department.

"We've got to recognize that the path forward is through reform and not to defund police," said Mayor Sam Liccardo in a one-on-one interview with ABC7, Monday afternoon.

Instead, Liccardo says his budget will propose expanding the authority of an independent police auditor, changing use-of-force guidelines, examining a ban on rubber bullets in crowds and other reforms.

"We have much work to do to confront our long and terrible history of police brutality against black and brown Americans," said Mayor Liccardo. "Defunding urban police departments won't help us do it. It is the wrong idea at the worst possible time "

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The mayor added that San Jose's police force is already lean compared to others in the country.

"What I hear is the overwhelming call in every neighborhood meeting that I'm in, for more police patrol not less."

San Jose State University professor Claudio Vera Sanchez, who studies policing across the country agrees that defunding the police is not the most popular choice across the political spectrum. But, there's a reason, the idea is gaining traction.

"It's an idea that is born out of the frustration of communities in an attempt to address some of these social issues," said Sanchez, "I think the main issue is that as a society and as a community we haven't created alternative forms of justice to address crime in communities."

RELATED: When protesters cry 'defund the police,' what does it mean?

On Sunday, Minnesota's city council announced that they plan to defund their police force following the killing of George Floyd. Advocates for the change, including the organization MPD150, explains defunding as a re-allocation of funds from police to other community-based forms of safety.

At a Black Lives Matter rally in San Jose Monday afternoon, organized by Santa Clara county public defenders, protestors say they want reforms but they're not taking a stand on defunding police.

"We need to have robust dialogue about transformative change I don't think this is a simple as a single solution," says Micael Estremera, supervising deputy public defender for the county.

RELATED: George Floyd protest: SJ police escalate response with flashbang grenades, tear gas, rubber bullets
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A San Jose police officer has been taken off the street and is now under an Internal Affairs investigation, after video surfaced of him appearing to taunt protestors on Friday.



Mayor Liccardo is expected to announce his new budget Monday night, deeply aware that his community is looking for change.

"It's critical for us to respond with action to the cries for reform," he said.

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