SJPD got more than $41M budget increase as department faced calls to defund police, data shows

ByStephanie Sierra, Lindsey Feingold, and John Kelly via KGO logo
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
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After years of calls to defund the police, the San Jose Police Depart. budget increased more than 17% since 2019, according to ABC7 I-Team analysis.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- While there have been widespread calls to defund the police, the San Jose Police Department budget increased more than 17% since 2019, according to an ABC Owned Television Stations analysis that looked at over 100 city and county budgets nationwide.

MORE: Despite 'defunding' claims, police funding has increased in many U.S. cities

This is slightly below the increase reported in Oakland, where police funding rose 17.9%, and higher than San Francisco, where police funding increased 4.4% -- although SFPD saw a larger increase in fiscal year 2019-2020 before the budget decreased for the next two fiscal years.

Local spending on police increased in 90 percent of locations since 2019, including for all four fiscal years we looked at for SJPD, from fiscal year 2018-2019 to fiscal year 2021-2022. Only eight police agencies had a budget that fell by more than 2%.

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"It doesn't surprise me that the police budget has increased," said Raj Jayadev, criminal justice advocate and founder of racial justice organization Silicon Valley Debug. "It's disappointing and revealing where the political gravity takes hold here in San Jose."

Silicon Valley Debug focuses on police accountability and support for people facing incarceration.

RELATED: Police department budget up 4.4% since 2019, despite SF officials making bold promises to defund

"What's under the phrase defund the police?" said Jayadev. "What they were calling for most viscerally is an end to the killings that led to the death of George Floyd, an end to the use of force...SJ has one of the highest rate of hospitalizations of use of force than any other city of its size."

According to ABC7's analysis of police data over the past four years, SJPD saw the largest increase in funding during the 2019-2020 fiscal year -- amounting to more than $41 million.

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Police records obtained by the I-Team show during that year, there were 514 officers who used force 1,323 times -- 77 of those officers used force up to 15 times repeatedly.

Video obtained exclusively from the I-Team became part of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed against the department in July 2020 accusing officers of excessive force during the five days of protests following George Floyd's murder. People like Breanna Contreras were caught in the crossfire, hit in the temple with a police projectile.

An audit of SJPD found that a quarter of sworn San Jose police officers received at least one complaint in 2020 and nearly a quarter of those complaints contained allegations about use of force. The Independent Police Auditor's report found those figures got worse in 2021 -- 31% of SJPD officers faced complaints that year.

"That cycle of violence was not interrupted after the killing of George Floyd," said Jayadev.

RELATED: Protesters march on freeway after man shot, killed by San Jose police officers

A year later, protesters crowded Guadalupe freeway in San Jose after Demetrius Stanley was shot and killed by an undercover San Jose police officer.

"There are a number of officers that have killed that remain on the force and have even got promotions after they've killed. Sergeant Michael Pina was held liable in federal civil court for the murder of Jacob Dominguez," said Jayadev. "Shortly after the death, he was promoted."

Jacob Dominguez, a 33-year-old father of three, was shot and killed by Officer Michael Pina in 2017 and a federal jury found Pina guilty of using excessive force. The city settled the case this year -- costing San Jose taxpayers $1 million. In 2019, Office Pina was also a defendant in another use of force case that stemmed from a hotel noise complaint where a couple was tased, shot with a riot gun, and beaten by SJPD officers. That case cost taxpayers another $400,000.

EXCLUSIVE: Couple celebrating birthday Tased, beaten by San Jose police after hotel noise complaint

The ABC7 News I-Team tried to speak directly with San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata, but we were told by his staff he was unavailable.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez told the I-Team more needs to be done to ensure the right people are responding to calls for service.

"We at the county are expanding the number of medical personnel who are clinicians and doctors and peer support to make sure we're limiting the number of conflicts that officers have with people who are mentally ill," said Chavez.

Since calls to defund the police, the county has funded programs like the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team, or PERT team, the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team or MCAT team, and the Trusted Response Urgent Support Team or TRUST team.

But Chavez says those programs are still working to be fully-staffed, just like the police department.

"San Jose was the safest big city in the country when I served on the council 16 years ago. Since that time, we've lost 200 officers and we have 100,000 more people living in San Jose," Chavez said.

VIDEO: More allegations against SJPD filed in 2021 than 5 years prior, audit finds

ABC7's analysis of census data shows San Jose is the 10th largest city in the country, but FBI data shows it's staffed as if it's the 48th largest. And response times are suffering because of it.

According to a 2021 audit on City Services, on average police are taking 22.8 minutes to respond to calls that involve assaults or burglaries, which is double the intended target of 11 minutes.

"That's just not acceptable," Chavez said. "The department needs to hire another 45 officers."

RELATED: Despite calls to defund police, Oakland PD's budget increased nearly 18% since 2019, I-Team found

Budget records reviewed by the I-Team show the department only directed funding to barely meet half that goal for the upcoming fiscal year.

So where is the budget money going? Supervisor Chavez says primarily salary increases and overtime. She says the city spent between $42 and $50 million on overtime over the last two years.

Take a look at more stories by the ABC7 News I-Team.