San Jose police at odds with county over new jail citation, bail policy

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose police are at odds with new guidelines on which crimes they should cite people for rather than arresting them. The police union says it's causing confusion and sending the wrong message to the community.

"We're basically saying go ahead and come to Santa Clara County, commit a crime, don't show up to court and by the way when I catch you, we're going to let you go, it's ridiculous," said Sgt. Paul Kelly, the President of the San Jose Police Officer's Association.

The San Jose POA is talking about new guidelines regarding who they arrest. Santa Clara County made the change telling law enforcement agencies to give out citations for low level non violent misdemeanor crimes rather than making an arrest.

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"It could be petty theft, drunk in public, it could be possession of stolen property, it could be possession of drugs, it could be drunk in public," said Garry Herceg, a Deputy County Executive.

The County's new guidelines advise police to cite people who commit misdemeanors with bail amounts that are below $15,000. Under the old guidelines, the bail amount was $5,000. County officials say it didn't make sense to keep low level criminal defendants in jail for two or three days when they were being released from a judge anyway.

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"We also looked at the impact it has on the poor and the ones that can't afford bail and how often they got detained simply because they didn't afford the bail amount," said Herceg.

But San Jose's Police Chief is concerned about the message the policy sends to his officers and the community. He told officers to use their discretion when deciding whether to arrest or hand out a citation.

"It's doesn't matter what the bail amount it is, you do your job out on the streets and yes, that person might be cited but we're not going to do it because it's not the right thing to do and it's bad business," said Kelly.

The County did not consult any of the police departments when updating their policy. The Deputy County Executive said the committee that decided on it included the Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney's Office, and the Department of Corrections.
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