Author: Aaron B. Zisser (Aaron B. Zisser)

Zisser: Can a public defender be district attorney?

Can a public defender be a district attorney? I am not endorsing any particular candidate. And each of the candidates for Santa Clara County DA has his strengths and weaknesses. I have met two of the candidates once or twice each. But this essential question has been floating around about whether one of the candidates, Sajid...

Zisser: The lasting trauma of police violence

When Claudia was 10 years old, a San Jose police officer pointed his gun at her. Claudia—not her real name—had just walked home from school with her little brother and four other young kids. Now 40 and still a San Jose resident, Claudia didn’t tell me this at my office or in a meeting through a...

Zisser: Outside reviews of San Jose police point to need for robust oversight structure

According to an outside review of the San Jose Police Department published in February, “Hispanic community members experienced a greater amount of independent use of force activities per event than their white counterparts did.” “Additionally, the injuries sustained by Hispanic community members were more severe than those sustained by white community members,” the review said....

Zisser: 2020 protests show why we need independent investigations of police conduct

As I discussed in my December column, the Charter Review Commission (CRC) recommended establishing an oversight entity that can investigate allegations of officer misconduct. An outside group of experts, the OIR Group, conducted a review of San Jose Police Department’s response to the May-June 2020 protests following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. That...

Zisser: Ignorance and arrogance prevail in vote to build jail

The vote by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors last week to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into jail construction elicited collective head-scratching and gasps from the hundreds of community members who showed up to advocate for a different path. “What the heck just happened?” people asked one another. The folly After all, the...

Zisser: Flawed push for a new jail is a disability rights issue

New construction does not cure a broken jail culture. Outdated architecture didn’t kill Michael Tyree in 2015 and seriously injure Andrew Hogan in 2018; that abuse was the work of officers operating inside a culture of corruption and callousness accustomed to dehumanizing people who needed services, but instead received cruelty and neglect. Yet the County Executive’s...

Zisser: Police reform in San Jose requires overhaul of independent civilian oversight

The San Jose Charter Review Commission’s (CRC) recommendations last month to significantly overhaul police oversight will present a major test of the question posed in a recent Spotlight article: What do San Jose commissioners actually accomplish? But the crucial test is of the City Council because the commission developed eminently reasonable recommendations it then approved...

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