Hundreds of times a year, interactions between San Jose, Ca., police and residents where no serious crime has occurred escalate into violence, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Many times the reason for the encounter is as innocuous as jaywalking, missing bike head lamps, or failing to signal a turn. Often, as the incidents develop, police determine the suspect is uncooperative and potentially violent and strike the first blow.
While many of those incidents raise questions about whether the police response was excessive, the department almost always dismisses such complaints about its behavior and limits public scrutiny of the cases, moves that tend to heighten distrust of the department, particularly in minority communities. The newspaper reviewed 206 court cases in which the most serious charge against the defendant was the misdemeanor crime of resisting arrest or delaying or obstructing a police officer. Of those, 145 – 70 percent of the cases – involved the use of force by officers. Around the nation, many police departments closely monitor cases of resisting arrest because of a concern that the loosely defined crime is a “cover charge” used by errant cops to justify unnecessary force. San Jose police officials last month said, in response to Mercury News questions, that they were instituting a policy to begin tracking such arrests.