San José POA - San José Police Officers' Association
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The Mounted Unit was formed in 1986. The unit was formed to increase police presence in our downtown. The HMU also work special events such as festivals.

Vanguard Featured Article

by: Officer Juan Reyes

 

VANGUARD: I'm here with an old beat partner, Deputy Chief Chris Moore. Thanks for the opportunity to chat with you today.

MOORE: Good to see you Juan. It looks like retirement agrees with you!

VANGUARD: Yeah, I'm happy. I'm doing other things in life and starting another career, and no it's not with the DA's office or reserves, but I'm having fun. You're a tough guy to get a hold of. I almost felt like I was hounding you like the Mercury News and I didn't want to be that way.

MOORE: You're always welcome in BFO. There's a lot going on, but it is never too busy to chat with old friends.

VANGUARD: I like it. So tell me about your family-how long have you been married?

MOORE: Almost 24 years. My wife, Mary, is an absolute saint. I say this not just because I know she's going to read this, but because it's the absolute truth. When I think of all the moves we've made (DC, London), the missed holidays, birthdays, and other family events, I remember how fortunate I really am. I think you'd agree, our spouses never get the credit that they deserve. We have one child, our 13-year-old daughter, Linden. She has been a tremendous joy for us. She's a wonderful young lady and has blossomed into someone who will be a great young adult. As for growing up, I'm the seventh of ten kids in my family. And when you grow up with nine siblings, you learn how to survive!

VANGUARD: Be the first one to the kitchen table.

MOORE: You're not kidding! At the end of the day though, family is truly important; if you don't have that, you don't have much of anything.

VANGUARD: The job is the job and things change, but your family will always be there. My family has always been the number one thing in my life. Four kids and they're all adults, but they're still a handful and that's life. You've always been well-respected in the department and that speaks volumes about you. I have a lot of respect for you. We grew up together and have done things together…but that's not what we're here for.

MOORE: I appreciate that, thanks. I remember coming to San Jose PD in the mid-80's just like you did and thinking how great it was to work here. We have worked with many really top notch people.

VANGUARD: BFO is forever-changing-it's like a chameleon. I guess you like that though.

MOORE: There are a lot of moving parts in BFO; it's one reason I appreciate being here. You never know what's going to happen when you come to work. My wife said I've been smiling for the last five weeks. The truth is that BFO is where my heart has always been-here in patrol.

VANGUARD: Chief Davis definitely did the right thing by putting you here.

So, Chris, when were you hired?

MOORE: I was hired by San José in August, 1985. Prior to that, I was a police officer at UC Berkeley for three years while I was attending school at Cal. I also worked as a seasonal firefighter for a few summers.

VANGUARD: You weren't one of those prickly officers that had a beard, were you?

MOORE: No, I pretty much stood out in Berkeley; I was 6'5" and clean cut with short hair. I will say this though-Berkeley is a great place to learn to be a police officer. The population is very diverse in Berkeley, Oakland, and Richmond where we worked.

VANGUARD: It definitely is a city, especially with Cal Berkeley right there. How many times as an officer did you have to visit the chief?

MOORE: Thankfully, not very often. When I was there, we had a little less than 100 officers. And while we didn't have that much interaction with the Chief, everyone in the department knew each other. I remember coming to San Jose and thinking how strange it was that I would likely never even meet some of my co-workers.

VANGUARD: I agree, and especially now, there are so many different faces. Evolution has hit this department. So you left Berkeley and came to San José-why?

MOORE: I was getting ready to graduate from Cal and I knew I was going to leave the police department. The question was-where did I want to work? In early 1985, I tested for San José Fire at the same time I tested for SJPD. I experienced one of those great career-defining moments. I got a call from my backgrounder who had heard from city personnel that I was testing for both police and fire. This was after Kerry Smith and Bill Leavy had jumped ship to join the SJFD. The backgrounder said I needed to make up my mind-did I want to be a cop or a firefighter? And I said, "Are you offering me a job?" and he said, "No, not yet." I remember saying something like, "well, then is it fair to force me to decide now?" His response was "Kid, didn't anyone ever tell you that life's not fair. Make up your mind." On my first day of work at the PD I knew I made the right choice.

Why San José? Joe McNamara was the chief then and I'd read a lot about him being a progressive police chief. In 1984, I went to a SJSU Hostage Negotiation class and the instructor was then-Lieutenant Tom Frazier. I remember thinking that if he was typical of the caliber of people at SJPD, then that was the place where I wanted to work. SJPD was the only police department where I submitted an application.

VANGUARD: You came over at a good time. I didn't lateral over until '87, but you're right, there were a lot of good people here. Where did you work when you got here?

MOORE: After the FTO program, I spent 3 ½ years in patrol working mostly in what is now Foothill Division. From there, I worked three years in Street Crimes (now Metro) downtown. I then went to the Bureau for a year before I was promoted.

VANGUARD: So what does a 6'5" guy do in metro and special ops? You probably stood out like a sore thumb.

MOORE: I was on a great team for three years working for Johnny Lax. Our team consisted of Dave Yazzalino, Jeff Kozlowski, me and my partner Bob Lobach. Working downtown with Yazz, Koz and Bob was, without a doubt, one of the best times in my career. I think Bob was voted "Most Likely to Go to San Quentin" in his graduating class at Willow Glen High School. Paired with me, the 6"5" guy, it was an interesting combination.

VANGUARD: Well, God forbid, but Bob still has time.

MOORE: I suppose he does.

(laughter)

MOORE: Bob has a heart of gold. I loved working with him.

VANGUARD: That guy could sell you insurance, paint your house, build you a house and a pool, run a youth sports program, irritate all the coaches…that guy is a wealth of knowledge and a heart of gold. One thing I like about Bob is he tells you like it is.

MOORE: He certainly does. I see him every once in a while and he looks really good. Retirement has been good for him too.

VANGUARD: Yeah, Bob's a great guy.

So you got your Master's. Did you get a PhD?

MOORE: No PhD. After I graduated from the MPA program at SJSU, I thought I was done with school. For some reason, I thought I wanted to try law school. I attended Lincoln Law School when it was located up off of Lundy. I was fortunate to have some great classmates including Dave Cortese. It was a good experience and I'm glad I did it, but it was a LONG four years.

VANGUARD: So what have you done with that?

MOORE: Although I have a license to practice law, the only significant amount of time I worked as a lawyer was when I served as a White House Fellow at the Justice Department. Even though it was a lot of work and cost a lot of money, the law school experience was definitely worth the effort.

VANGUARD: So tell me about your Fellowship in Washington, D.C. When was that, and how were you selected for something like that? Was it a lottery? Someone owe you something? You have wood on somebody?

MOORE: Every year the White House Fellows program receives roughly a thousand applications for a minimum of 11 and a maximum of 19 fellowships offered each year. The selection process is strictly non-partisan and takes several months to complete. I went through a regional interview panel process in San Francisco and was selected to go with the final round of 30 applicants to be interviewed in DC. I was quite humbled to have been selected as one of the sixteen Fellows selected my year. I took a leave of absence from the department and spent September 1999-August 2000 serving as Counsel to US Attorney General Janet Reno, a person whom I admire greatly. She was very good to me and my family, and she had more integrity than a lot of people I've met in Washington, even though she wasn't particularly popular with some in DC.

VANGUARD: We only see what we see on television of these individuals, and when they speak in front of the public or in front Congress or the Senate, but you don't really get a chance to meet them.

MOORE: She's truly a wonderful person and an excellent lawyer.

VANGUARD: What was the biggest ordeal that occurred during your tenure there?

MOORE: There were a number of major events that were going on during that 1999-2000 period. One highlight that comes to mind was the Elián González saga. It was a big, international news story at the time because of the nature of US-Cuban relations. Ms. Reno tasked me to work with the Border Patrol to ensure that the operation to reunite Elian with his father would be safe and successful. Fortunately, the operation went very well that morning.

VANGUARD: It was an operation that was watched world-wide and live on television. Can't forget, "Finger on the trigger." Oh my goodness.

MOORE: I just happen to have that picture here with me and you can see the finger is really outside the trigger guard.

VANGUARD: That was awesome. I do recall that, and everyone watched it play-by-play. It's nice that there was a San José touch to that day.

MOORE: Definitely some San José fingerprints on it. One of the most dangerous things we do in law enforcement is to force entry into people's homes. You need to make sure those types of operations are carefully planned and executed so that everyone goes home at the end of the shift.

VANGUARD: Incredible.

So after that, you came back. Then what? Did you lose a year's worth of seniority or did you keep it?

MOORE: I lost a year of seniority but when you're a Lieutenant you're assigned at the discretion of the Chief. I returned and was assigned by Chief Lansdowne to be the Internal Affairs commander-so I did that for two years, and then came back to patrol. I spent another three years in patrol, mostly on swings.

VANGUARD: What made you think about law enforcement? You're a bright and well-educated individual-was there ever anything else?

MOORE: No, other than firefighting. I knew I wanted to work outdoors with people. Anyone that works in law enforcement knows you really have to like working with people. If you don't, you're never going to survive.

VANGUARD: Sure.

MOORE: It's absolutely true. In this job, we have a front row seat to the real world. We are privileged to get to help people when they are at their best and at their worst. You literally have to be able to bring order to chaos. It takes a special person to be able to walk into someone else's life when everything is crumbling-sort it out to the point where everyone is safe and then to bring in the right resources so that life can move on.

VANGUARD: When were you promoted to sergeant?

MOORE: I was promoted in February of '93. I worked on mids for a year in District Y. That was the year shift change got cancelled. I worked with Joe Unland, a great channel partner, for that first year.

VANGUARD: So what other units did you work as a sergeant? Did you just stay in patrol?

MOORE: After a year and a half in patrol, I worked FTO, Community Services and spent a shift as the PIO supervisor working for Chief Cobarruviaz.

VANGUARD: So you came back from DC and you were with IA for two years. How'd that go for you?

MOORE: That's a job that you would never think you would want, but it exposes you to so much that goes on in this organization. While I was assigned there, I learned all about the disciplinary process and how important it is to do well. Looking back on it, I think it was a great experience and it has helped me tremendously in my career.

VANGUARD: And being a deputy chief now, your tour back then lets you see things a little more thoroughly.

MOORE: Very much so. It allows you to see and avoid problems at a much earlier stage.

VANGUARD: So when did you get promoted to captain?

MOORE: August of 2006.

VANGUARD: Is this your second assignment as deputy chief?

MOORE: It is. I worked in BTS for 4 ½ years in three different ranks. Although it was a long time, I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked up there. Looking back, I got a chance to see how good our personnel in Communications and OSSD really are. I also learned a lot about technology. If you think about where law enforcement is headed, you can see how important technology has become to our profession.

VANGUARD: So you're right where you want to be.

MOORE: I am. This is the best job in the department, without question.

VANGUARD: So being Deputy Chief of BFO-there are some issues. One of the biggest issues is morale. What are your thoughts on that and is there a plan in view to address that issue?

MOORE: One thing I've learned, no matter what job I've had and no matter what rank, is that if you're responsible for the success of others, you have to give them the tools they need to do their jobs. That starts with the "basics". Do you have enough cars? Do you have the equipment you need? Are the schedules such that people can get time off or vacation? Those all contribute to the issues of morale and operational success. We've got a few things that we still need to improve upon. One example of this is the vacation bid. The POA did a survey and 73% of the officers said the vacation system is broken. That's a clear indication of a problem-how much time off is available and how do we allocate it? We are trying to carefully balance seniority with the need to grant everyone at least some time off for vacation. We have been meeting with the POA to see if we can come up with a better system. After the "basics", my focus is on gang crime. Gang crime was up 15% in February of this year versus last year. We had a 15-year-old killed on Kollmar; we had 19-year-old killed in the area of 24th and Williams. Every day I'm reviewing the Watch Commander logs and seeing a stepped up level of gang crime (assaults, stabbings, shootings). We must move quickly to stop this trend. Right now we're at a point where we will focus our patrol efforts and our Special Operations resources on high profile gang suppression. We have to reassert our presence in the neighborhoods, particularly as we enter the spring and summer months. So, as for priorities-it is the "basics", gang crime, and lastly, we must prepare the organization for what is sure to be one of the toughest budgetary periods we've ever seen. We're going to see a period of contraction of some type, primarily through attrition. Once the final budget is released, we'll know exactly how many people we'll have in BFO. It will then be our responsibility to determine how to best police the city with those resources. We will still be a great police department, but our level of service will be different. We'll need to prepare our own folks first, and then the public, as to how we're going to protect this city with fewer resources than we've ever had. We have many challenges ahead of us, however I know we can do it. It's just going to be done in a different service delivery model than what we're used to.

VANGUARD: Do you think we'll have to re-district?

MOORE: At some point in the near future, we will have to re-district. However, in the short term, I think we may end up having to do some consolidation of beats and/or districts.

VANGUARD: And now we've also procured some unincorporated areas during a time when retirements are hitting us huge and there's no imminent academy, and now we're adding to our turf from the SO-it's more with less, and that's been the theme here.

MOORE: I believe that we're well beyond "more with less" and we've been operating on the "less with less" model. We've been doing that for a number of years, but I'm not sure the public's expectations have been reduced. At City Hall they're looking at 35% cuts in non-public safety departments; the PD is facing a $26M cut. It is clear that we won't be performing some services that we used to perform.

VANGUARD: So have you made any immediate changes to BFO?

MOORE: No. I've always believed that before you go in and start making changes, you should assess your current strengths and weaknesses. I'm in the process of doing that now.

VANGUARD: Coming up from BTS you've been involved in a lot of changes. We have this new computer-what's it called now?

MOORE: Mobile Data Computer or "MDC." Our current MDCs need to be replaced. We are in the process of procuring an automated field reporting system-it's crazy that we still have handwritten reports. As we speak, there are folks downstairs building up our fleet of cars with the new ruggedized MDC's. They're doing five cars per day until the fleet is done. We had a model downstairs so that people could use it and give us suggestions. Ease of use is the most important-is it comfortable to reach the radio? Do I hit my arm on something? Where do my wrists land on the keyboard?-is it too low or too high-can I move it?

VANGUARD: And I'm sure there will always be little issues. Not everyone will be pleased, but if it doesn't interfere with officer safety and makes their jobs easier to do, that's a good thing.

So, the TaserCam? What's the status on that?

MOORE: SJPD is a pilot site for the Taser Axon head-mounted cameras. The officers we've assigned them to are typically working downtown. We're finding they are very helpful when you're engaged in a detention or arrest situation where people start making accusations against us; the camera is truly the officer's ally. It will capture exactly what happens in the incident. When people come in to make a complaint and deny they said or did certain things, we have the video.

VANGUARD: Who downloads the information after an incident occurs?

MOORE: The information is downloaded to a server. Since it's a pilot program, we're still working on a number of issues including how do we allow appropriate access to the video?

VANGUARD: Anything else scheduled to come out of the woodwork?

MOORE: We will continue to expand the E-Citiation/MobileID systems as new grant funds become available.

VANGUARD: What are the biggest issues you see coming out of IA regarding patrol officers?

MOORE: Recently, we have had a number of folks placed on administrative leave and some people have expressed concern about that. When someone is placed on administrative leave as a result of a misconduct investigation, the allegations are usually fairly serious-sometimes criminal, but not always. We have excellent investigators in both IA and in BOI. You have to let the process work. Our personnel are well-represented by the POA. You have to trust the process.

VANGUARD: What are your goals, either here at BFO or personal?

MOORE: I've been a police officer for nearly 28 years and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. As for goals, I look forward to leading BFO through what are sure to be some tough times in the months ahead. After that, we will have to wait to see what future holds.

VANGUARD: Well it sounds like you have great support from your family and your wife, especially given all the movement you've had across this country. I'm sure down the road she's enjoyed some of those trips with you. I think.

MOORE: We've made some great friends along the way.

VANGUARD: And she survived.

MOORE: And she survived and I'm forever grateful.

VANGUARD: Well, things to talk about and remember in your golden years. So how many years do you have left?

MOORE: That really depends on number of factors. In August, I'll have 28 years in law enforcement. I have been very fortunate in my career and have had the opportunity to work in some great assignments. Right now, I don't see myself doing anything different for a while. We are going to have tough times in the coming months and years, but I believe it's going to be an opportunity for us to lead. This is where we can shine. It will be hard, but we can do it.

VANGUARD: Things will get tough, and you're absolutely correct. The chief has the right person in the right position for the largest bureau and I think you'll do wonders. If I was assigned to BFO I'd be more relaxed knowing that you're in charge.

Thank you so much for today's opportunity. Things do change here constantly, and that phone's been ringing off the hook-I really like the way you hung up on the chief there. He finally got the hint after three tries. So thank you. And I'm kidding about the phone call.

MOORE: Thank you, and it's great to see you. When my retirement time comes, I look forward to doing a lot of things, but right now, the smile is still on my face. This is the best job in the department.

VANGUARD: Good for you. Thanks, Chris.

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