Reports published last week by KQED and The Mercury News on the arrest inside the school’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, and Silva’s subsequent move to Los Gatos, troubled hundreds of residents, according to an informal poll posted to the Nextdoor website for the town.
“I just don’t feel safe having him on our police department,” said Jacqueline Mutz, a local part-time schoolteacher. “There are people that live in town that are mentally ill. They’re quiet. A lot of them sit there and talk to themselves, so who knows if there’s a potential situation?”
As of Tuesday morning, 498 residents had responded to an informal poll on Nextdoor. A large majority — 86% — of those respondents indicated Officer Silva’s actions during the incident on March 17, 2016, were concerning and that his hiring should be reviewed, while 14% indicated they agreed with the officer’s actions.
Town Manager Laurel Prevetti echoed the police chief’s perspective in an email, writing that “while the video is disturbing for some viewers to watch, throughout the encounter, the suspect was noncompliant and physically resisted efforts by the officer to place him under arrest, which led to the use of force incident.”
Warning, this video contains graphic imagery and language.
She also referred to Decena’s statement defending Silva’s hiring, which was issued after the San Jose State University incident was revealed in a trove of documents and police body-camera videos released in accordance with Senate Bill 1421, the state’s new police transparency law. The chief’s statement said Silva was subjected to “a thorough background investigation, including a polygraph examination and psychological screening.”
For its part, the California State University system strongly objected to Silva's reinstatement, arguing that the library arrest was an "egregious example of excessive force."
Prevetti added, “Once hired, the town continues to invest in training, particularly in critical incidents, de-escalation, and sensitivity to persons in crisis. All personnel are held to high standards during their careers with the town.”
Los Gatos’ mayor and vice mayor did not respond to requests for comment.
The poll’s creator, 15-year Los Gatos resident Vlado Herman, said he has not had any problems with the Police Department but thought Silva’s hiring was worth learning more about. He was surprised by the poll results.
“I was expecting it to be 50-50,” Herman said. “There are people with opinions on both sides, but most of the people want more answers about this.”
He agrees that the poll is not scientific, but he also said the hundreds of responses from voters are worth acknowledging with a more robust public response.