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San Jose Police Department Makes Accountability Push with Training, Data Initiatives

May 10, 2016  | 

The San Jose Police Department says it is launching a multipronged effort to increase training and better analyze arrest data.

The department is packing in a slew of progressive training initiatives for its officers during the next year that it hopes will put it at the forefront of big-city law-enforcement agencies in adapting to the post-Ferguson era of policing. Changes include bringing in an expert who challenges the way police view racial and gender bias and requiring all officers to learn how to better deal with mentally ill people.

Chief Eddie Garcia, who took the helm of the police force earlier this year, said he hopes to increase transparency by opening up the department's doors, and some of its books, to community overseers because he sees this movement is already on its way nationally.

"The community has had fears about law enforcement, and we should alleviate concerns as opposed to raising them," Garcia told the Mercury News. "We've come a long way to understand this is a phenomenon that exists."

This summer, San Jose will phase in training aimed at helping officers recognize unconscious biases that affect their interactions with different groups of people, and adjust their behavior. Department commanders completed the training last month under the tutelage of Lorie Fridell, a University of South Florida professor and former director of the Police Executive Research Forum.

Last week, the police force announced departmentwide mandatory Crisis Intervention Team training, specialized instruction for de-escalating encounters with people who are either mentally ill or experiencing mental-health crises. Such calls account for a rising number of emergency calls, as well as clashes that lead to officer-involved shootings.

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