SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Civil rights activists are calling on the San Jose Police Department to take a hard look in the mirror after a promising rookie officer’s death in March was ruled a fentanyl overdose.
“With this loss of life, the San Jose PD needs to look inside and find out if there’s a problem inside the police department,” said civil rights activist and police watchdog Rev. Jeff Moore.
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The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed Saturday that Officer De’Jon Packer, whose body was discovered inside his Milpitas home in March, died as a result of “fentanyl toxicity.”
The news sent a jolt through the San Jose police department, which bid farewell to the well-liked 24-year-old at an emotional memorial service last month.
“The full details regarding Officer Packer’s death are still not known and are being investigated by the Milpitas Police Department and they have our full cooperation,” said San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata in a news release. “This behavior is not something we condone, and we will continue to assist Milpitas PD with their investigation. “Milpitas police have not made public any details of their investigation or the circumstances that led to Packer’s death.
“Any allegation of illegal drug use by a San Jose Police officer is concerning,” Mata said in his statement. “There are no free passes for police officers, and we will not make excuses. When an officer violates the public trust, on or off duty, I will hold them accountable…The public demands and I expect ethical behavior, accountability, and professionalism from all who wear the uniform.”
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Rev. Moore said Packer’s death speaks not only to opioid crisis but also to potential problems within the police department as well.
“I think the police department is a reflection of its community. And if there’s a problem within the community, that problem could also exist inside the police department,” Rev. Moore said.
Mata also said the department will make grief counselors available to his officers and will re-enforce the importance of participation in wellness programs.
“We have already scheduled substance abuse prevention skills training for our personnel, not just for themselves, but also for recognizing the signs for those around us, and how to get help,” he said. “We will not waver from keeping our Officers well, not just physically but emotionally.”
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A native of San Jose and a graduate of Gunderson High School, Packer played two seasons at San Jose City College before playing for the Spartans at SJSU.
Source : https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2022/05/03/activist-san-jose-pd-needs-to-look-inside-after-promising-rookie-overdose-death/