On July 5, NBC published an investigation revealing that the District Attorney’s Chief Investigator Moises Reyes had “made discriminatory remarks towards and about women, transgender people and Black people” in formal settings and that the Santa Clara County Equal Opportunity Division (EOD) had sustained five allegations against him.
Despite these sustained findings by EOD months ago, there have apparently been no changes and Chief Reyes still remains in power. That is not acceptable. In light of these sustained EOD findings, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen needs to clean house in his Bureau of Investigation.
Chief Reyes has led the Bureau of Investigation in the DA’s office for several years and reports directly to DA Rosen. The Bureau of Investigation is essentially an internal police department at the DA’s office, consisting mostly of dozens of sworn peace officers that have the same statutory authority as police officers.
When I worked as a prosecutor at the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, I worked closely with many investigators, who helped me investigate crimes, gather evidence and locate suspects, victims and witnesses. Most of these investigators discharged their duties with integrity, competence and compassion.
However, I have personally experienced some of the toxicity in the top leadership of the Bureau of Investigation. So I was deeply disturbed, but not totally surprised to learn of Chief Reyes’s discriminatory remarks toward and about women, transgender people and Black people in formal settings.
According to NBC and to the best of my knowledge, despite these sustained EOD findings, Chief Reyes seems not to have been subject to discipline in the DA’s office and still actively oversees dozens of peace officers and countless criminal investigations. This fact, coupled with DA Rosen’s public statement that he doesn’t “demand perfection,” is deeply disturbing.
All of this clearly illustrates the existence of a double standard. For example, in 2020, when it was discovered that some local police officers who belonged to a Facebook group were making racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and bigoted comments, DA Rosen tasked approximately 20 prosecutors to investigate thoroughly and determine the impact that those officers may have had on criminal prosecutions.
There need to be transparency and accountability, not walls of silence and early retirements. DA Rosen needs to re-evaluate and reform the leadership and culture of his Bureau of Investigation. And DA Rosen needs to investigate whether Chief Reyes or others may have had prejudicial impacts on internal decisions or criminal investigations and prosecutions, rooting out any bias that may have seeped into situations or cases involving women, transgender people and Black people.
In his most recent swearing-in speech, DA Rosen emphasized that he is building “a house of justice” at the DA’s office and that the “foundation is integrity.” Integrity includes showing no favoritism, even to senior leaders within the DA’s office. DA Rosen needs to keep his word and fight harder to bend the arc toward justice.
Daniel M. Chung is a Silicon Valley prosecutor and a former 2022 candidate for Santa Clara County district attorney. He clarifies to San José Spotlight that this op-ed reflects only his personal views and that he is writing only in his personal capacity, not on behalf of or as a representative of Santa Clara County.