Former San Jose police officer charged for illegal weapons possession
San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata speaks at an Oct. 22 news conference. Photo by Lloyd Alaban.

    A former sworn San Jose police officer and current community service officer is being charged with gun-related crimes after garnering attention from the FBI for allegedly advocating to shoot cops.

    Denis Shevchenko, 40, was charged this week with three misdemeanor counts of illegal weapons possession. An investigation by the FBI, which SJPD was informed of on Oct. 14, reportedly linked Shevchenko to inflammatory posts on the alt-right website Gab. He was arrested that night while on duty.

    The department could did not elaborate on what exactly the posts said, only that they were “of political nature involving violence and threats.” According to a court order, Shevchenko allegedly solicited people to shoot police officers and others based on their political ideologies.

    Shevchenko has been charged with possession of a concealed firearm, possession of an assault weapon and possession of a dirk or dagger. He has been released on bail and is currently on paid administrative leave.

    “I am extremely disappointed that an employee in our organization may have harbored and may have spread these hateful messages,” said San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata at a Friday news conference. “I strongly condemn extremist ideologies and hate, which have no place in this community and will not be tolerated at this department.”

    Shevchenko is a former sworn police officer with the San Jose Police Department and a current community service officer. As part of Shevchenko’s training, he is not allowed to carry a gun while on duty. He has been with SJPD since 2012.

    The department’s community service officer program, formed in 2014, responds to low-priority crimes such as vandalism, road hazards and security at public events. Officers are uniformed and drive specially-marked cars.

    An SJPD raid of Shevchenko’s home produced at least nine firearms, and an inspection of his locker at the department’s substation produced a loaded firearm.

    At least one of the firearms was an illegally modified AR-15-style rifle.

    According to Mata, no other SJPD employees have engaged in similar behavior online. But the department has asked the FBI to look into the possibility of officers who have posted alt-right ideologies.

    SJPD officers in the past have faced scrutiny for online threats. In June 2020, several officers were linked to a private Facebook group rife with bigoted and racist comments.

    Mata said SJPD has implemented several measures to combat bias and hateful ideologies within the department, including social media screenings for potential officers and a psychological exam.

    “We haven’t dealt with this in years past, and now there’s a growing presence of extremism in our country,” Mata said. “So we’re keeping up with the technology. A lot of these individuals post anonymously, so these are complex investigations.”

    Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

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