SJPD speaks out over communication breakdown after fatal police shooting

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ByVic Lee KGO logo
Saturday, March 28, 2015
SJPD speaks out over communication breakdown after fatal police shooting
The San Jose Police Department is working to resolve computer problems after a communication breakdown occurred when a police officer was fatally shot.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- ABC7 News Reporter Vic Lee confronted San Jose's police chief about the communication breakdown the night Officer Michael Johnson was fatally shot. They police chief said they're aware and working with their budget in hopes of fixing it.

The police chief's command staff said the computer crashed after the fatal shooting of Johnson and not during the incident. They said there was too much information or traffic on an old computer system that couldn't handle all of the data at once.

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The San Jose City Council has approved the mayor's request to spend more money to fix this problem, but the officers out in the field say this cant' happen fast enough.

Officers say the laptops are old and outdated and that they're critical to their work.

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What's more is they've complained to the brass about it since last fall. Memos and letters have been sent to the chief and command staff.

Officers responded to the 911 call at about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday. The caller said an apartment tenant was despondent and that he had a gun and he may be suicidal.

Police radio traffic was heavy with calls from responding officers. The volume of traffic on the mobile data terminals and computers in patrol cars was also high. And then the glitches on the laptops started.

"The system becomes bogged down. It slows down and it ceases to a halt. And certainly that happened at a point on Tuesday." San Jose Police Officer's Association spokesperson James Gonzales said.

Officers had to rely on their radios to make calls.

"The computers really enable us to communicate en masse, radio systems can only allow one person to talk at once and when hundreds of people on the same radio channel, certainly that's not a possibility," Gonzales said.

During a luncheon, San Jose Police Chief Larry Esquivel released a statement saying, "It didn't fail during the incident. It was just because of the amount of people connected with that one incident, which made it slow and I don't' know of the capacity in terms of how that transpired. It was after the incident," he said.

Esquivel said the money is coming from the city and that staff is working with city leaders and budget to address the issue.

Later in the day, his command staff acknowledged to reporters the computers were old and had too many problems.

"Our plan is to have all MDDS replaced, our entire fleet by the end of 2015," San Jose Police Department Deputy Chief Jeff Marozick said.

In the meantime, officers told ABC7 News the computer system had glitches again on Friday.

If you would like to extend your condolences to the officer's family and the San Jose Police Department, click here. We've posted a badge on Facebook for you to share, to honor his memory and his service.

Donation Information

The SJPOA Charitable Foundation is accepting donations for the family of Michael Johnson. Please visit our website at: to make a donation online.

The Britannia Arms will be holding a fundraiser on April 2nd from 11:00 AM - 2:00 AM. ALL PROCEEDS during this time will be going to the family. The fundraiser will be held at both locations:

Britannia Arms - Downtown

173 W Santa Clara Street

San Jose, CA 95113

Britannia Arms - Almaden

5027 Almaden Expressway

San Jose, CA 95118

The San Jose Earthquakes will be holding an Easter Egg Hunt following the team's match on April 5th (available to kids 10 and under with a ticket to the match). A donation bin will be set up at the Guest Services Center behind section 101. Following the match, fans can donate upon checking in for the Easter egg hunt. In addition, donations can be made at

All the donations will be coming to the SJPOA Charitable Foundation and then given to family.