SAN JOSE -- San Jose officials are inviting residents to offer suggestions for what the city should look for in its next police chief in a series of public meetings starting the last week of November.
"We're really checking back with our community," said David Vossbrink, a spokesman for City Manager Debra Figone.
Police Chief Chris Moore, 51, appointed in February 2011, surprised City Hall in September when he announced he'll retire at the end of January after just two years leading the department where he is a 26-year veteran.
A search for a successor already is under way, led by Teri Black-Brann whose public-sector executive recruitment firm had led the last effort that ultimately settled on in-house candidate Moore after the retirement of former Chief Rob Davis.
That effort involved dozens of community meetings to gauge public sentiment at a time when the department was rocked by critics who accused officers of heavy-handed enforcement tactics against Latinos, Asians and blacks.
"The theme the last time was 'culturally competent,' a chief committed to community engagement and community policing," Vossbrink said. "What we're doing now is a double-check: Has anything changed?"
Civil-rights leaders have praised Moore's efforts to ease concerns about the department's tactics through community engagement. But Moore's department has since been wracked by budget cuts, layoffs and low morale amid rising crime and a bitter fight over trimming generous but costly officer pensions.
Moore at one point faced a potential vote of no confidence from the officers' union where some thought he didn't fight hard enough against budget cuts.
After announcing his retirement, Moore indicated he was disappointed that the city couldn't resolve its pension problem through negotiations with officers and that his departure was prompted by the City Council's refusal to put a sales tax measure before voters this month to raise revenue. That in turn has led to some grumbling among city leaders that he was too unwilling to accept the city's financial limits, with the city forced to cut staffing as employee retirement costs tripled in a decade.
Councilman Sam Liccardo, a former prosecutor who supported the city's pension reform efforts, said, "We want a strong leader, and also someone who's a collaborator, someone who recognizes our fiscal constraints and can manage the department without unearthly expectations of money falling from the sky."
He said he would like a chief who can acknowledge the frustrations among the ranks "without succumbing to the temptation to become overtly political."
But Councilman Ash Kalra, a former defense lawyer who has criticized the city's budget approach, argued the city needs a chief who will stand up to budget-cutting pressure.
"We want someone who will come in and tell it to us straight," Kalra said. "I think we really need to put the police chief who comes in in a position to be successful."
Figone makes the chief appointment with ratification by the City Council. The first of four community meetings will start at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26, at the Berryessa Community Center. Others will be held Wednesday, Nov. 28; Monday, Dec. 3, and Monday, Dec. 10, at other sites.
Contact John Woolfolk at 408-975-9346. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/johnwoolfolk1.
San Jose is inviting residents to four community meetings in November and December to offer suggestions for what the city should look for in its next police chief. Police Chief Chris Moore announced in September that he will retire at the end of January after two years on the job. Those meetings will be held:
Spanish and Vietnamese interpreters will be available at the meetings. Residents who are unable to attend a meeting but would like to submit written comments may do so by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The public can also provide input by taking an online survey, available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Links at www.sanjoseca.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=142.