Sudden retirement of San Jose police watchdog came after drunken clash with officers

‘I am ashamed for the conduct I displayed’: Former Independent Police Auditor Shivaun Nurre

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The sudden retirement of San Jose’s civilian police watchdog was the result of an encounter at a community festival in which she drunkenly accosted police officers working security, she admitted publicly Thursday, three months after leaving the position.

Shivaun Nurre told the Bay Area News Group that she was “ashamed” of her behavior and that the incident has accelerated her plans to retire from the city’s Office of the Independent Police Auditor.

Nurre, 63, gave her notice of retirement on June 7, three days after the events at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church during the San Jose Greek Festival. She stated that she attended the event on a regular basis and was there on personal business.

Nurre approached officers working “pay jobs” at the Greek festival, such as extra patrols or private security gigs contracted through the police department, and antagonized them loudly. According to sources, Nurre was visibly intoxicated, and at least one of the police officers activated a body-worn camera to record the interaction.

Nurre informed city officials of her intention to retire a few days after the exchange, which sources said was documented in an incident report but resulted in no arrest or proposed criminal charge.

Nurre’s decision to retire two years into her current four-year term had received no public explanation up to this point. She was the interim auditor when she was promoted to full-time in 2018, and her contract was extended until 2021.

Nurre apologized on Thursday for her actions, including admitting to intoxication, which she said forced her to resign.

“I’m sorry for the behavior I displayed. I should not have engaged in a heated debate with officers in public. “It reflected badly on me,” she admitted. “As a result, the stress level of my job and my desire to retire coalesced, and I made the decision to leave quickly.”

The city administration and City Council announced on June 27 that retired Santa Clara County Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu-Towery would serve as interim auditor while the city searches for a permanent replacement. Nurre expressed her hope that her departure will not disrupt the accountability work that her office does.

“I take full responsibility for my conduct, and my conduct has consequences,” Nurre stated. “It should not be held against the office; it was my fault.”

When reached for comment, San Jose Police Department officials deferred to city officials.

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan declined to comment specifically on Nurre’s resignation in an interview on Thursday, citing it as a personnel matter.

“We’re extremely fortunate in that the vast majority of city employees hold themselves to a very high standard of professional conduct,” he said. “On rare occasions, when employees do not comply, there are consequences.”

Nurre had worked in the IPA’s office for 17 years, primarily as the second-in-command but also as the agency’s interim leader before being promoted to permanent IPA in 2018. She presided over several controversies involving the San Jose Police Department, perhaps most notably when the SJPD received national condemnation for its violent response to George Floyd protests in the summer of 2020.

Throughout her tenure, she was regarded as a steadfast monitor who quietly pushed the department to improve its internal investigations of officer misconduct while remaining in good standing with city and police leaders. The majority of the public outrage was caused by high-profile city efforts — including a successful ballot measure — to expand the watchdog’s footprint, highlighted by a divisive proposal to permanently shift IA investigations out of SJPD and into Nurre’s office.

Her policy positions included urging the police department to treat incidents in which officers drew and pointed their firearms as acts of force, as well as urging the department to broaden the scope of internal investigations, which she claimed gave too much deference to officers accused of misconduct.

According to Mahan, an active search for a permanent IPA is underway, but it could take up to six months.

“I’m told that the IPA role, in particular, is difficult to hire for,” he said. “There aren’t many people in the country who have done work like this.” And it’s a fairly small pool. And the majority of those who do it well are currently employed somewhere.”

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply