San Jose POA moving forward with oversight reforms after independent auditor's resignation

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The San Jose Police Officers Association is submitting a tentative agreement on expanding police oversight to the Mayor and City Council today in response to the city independent police auditor's resignation on Thursday.

POA President Paul Kelly repeatedly called for Aaron Zisser's resignation beginning in June, saying he wouldn't move forward on police reforms or work with the IPA until Zisser was out of office.

Zisser submitted his resignation to the City Council on Thursday evening and said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve the city, but the POA's "extraordinary personal attacks" had become too large an obstacle to his work.

The tentative agreement authored by the POA's office lays out three possible oversight expansions to be ratified by October, according to Kelly.

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It would allow the IPA to access use of force data in cases where police have not received a complaint, allow the IPA to review completed investigations into all officer-involved shootings, and allow the IPA oversight over internal complaints against officers, as it already has for public complaints against officers.

The POA has not yet outlined a path for instituting each reform, but Kelly said there are virtually no hurdles preventing the expansion. Asked why the IPA's office didn't already have expanded oversight, he said there had previously been concerns over police officers' rights.

"We're tired of waiting for attorneys to figure it out," Kelly said. "We as the board saw 1/8the reforms 3/8 dragging and dragging."

The POA will now work with the Mayor, City Council and police to determine a path forward. Kelly said he is also happy to work with Assistant IPA Shivaun Nurre, who will fill in after Zisser officially leaves Oct. 1.

Zisser began fielding Kelly's accusations when he was called a "rogue watchman" and was accused of authoring an inaccurate report to over-represent police bias against people of color.

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Kelly said Zisser had also attended an anti-police rally, but Zisser clarified that prior to the rally, he had briefly spoken with community members who had lost loved ones to police violence.

"I think it remains to be seen whether 1/8Kelly 3/8 will genuinely engage on real reforms to the oversight model," Zisser said Friday.

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He said the POA's tactic of providing an "ultimatum" to the community-either Zisser resign or police reforms would be indefinitely stalled-was one of the reasons why he left office. He added that community activists never once asked him to resign so they could move forward with their work.

Local advocates for police reform, including People Acting in Community Together, called Kelly's allegations a "heavy handed attack campaign" that undermined their years of efforts to pass the three agreed-upon reforms.

"The SJPOA has claimed that they are supportive of increased independent oversight, just not with Aaron Zisser in the position. Now it is time for them to show it," PACT said in a statement, claiming the POA's resistance was the reason why San Jose police has an oversight model that's "stuck in the past."

Kelly said the claim was "unfair," and that the POA has had several years of a good working relationship with PACT. He said his office will welcome further discussions with advocacy groups but said it takes time to institute reform.

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