A troubling picture has been painted in recent weeks regarding the relationship between the 49ers and San Jose police. In addition to the team routinely hiring San Jose police officers to provide security services (a practice that has been suspended due to the handling of the Ray McDonald case), the 49ers also have given free tickets to multiple San Jose police officers, in violation of the applicable rules.
According to ABC7, the team gave free tickets to two members of the department for at least two 49ers games. The San Jose gift ordinance prohibits police officers from receiving items worth more than $50.
“Tickets to an athletic event like a Sharks game, an A’s game, a Giants game, a 49ers game,” San Jose City Attorney Rick Doyle told ABC7, “if the face value of those tickets are more than $50 dollars, which is probably the case most of the time.”
In this case, the team told ABC7 that the tickets had a face value of $187.
Accepting the tickets also violates the police department’s internal guidelines, according to Judge Ladoris Cordell, who serves as San Jose’s independent police auditor.
“Things like that, those are deemed to be gifts,” Judge Cordell told ABC7. “So a discount, a gratuity, a favor, if they’re not offered to everybody, you can’t take them. We don’t want officers, our police officers in San Jose, to be getting special favors from certain people because it might compromise them at some point. And it doesn’t look good.”
The two officers in question — Assistant Chief Eddie Garcia and Deputy Chief Jeff Marozick — have since reimbursed the 49ers for the tickets. But that doesn’t satisfy Judge Cordell’s concerns.
“The fact is the duty manual, the rule itself says you may not accept these,” Judge Cordell told ABC7. “It doesn’t say, you get around it by accepting it, and later paying money back.”
She’s right; the money was reimbursed only because the issue was discovered. If no one ever raised a question or a concern about it, nothing would have happened.
Moving forward, the question is whether San Jose and other Bay Area municipalities will establish the kind of arm’s-length relationship with the 49ers that will insulate any investigations of players or team employees from scrutiny or suspicion. The bigger question for the NFL is whether steps will be taken to ensure that neither the 49ers nor any other teams are attempting to short-circuit the personal conduct policy by maintaining relationships that can undermine the willingness of police officers to aggressively pursue potential violations of the law.