General Crime

Is There Enough Duct Tape to Save the San Jose Police Department?


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I’m wondering who does all the number crunching for the City of San Jose. Six years ago San Jose had just under 1,400 police officers and the population of the city was about 970,000. The police department has always operated with fewer officers than the national average, but the department’s reputation for hard work, professionalism and dedication made it a model for how they did more with less. The police department made it work and was successful at it. Remember, San Jose was the safest city in the nation and was overflowing with candidates who wanted to work for the police department, especially experienced police officers from other agencies. The police department was that good.

The economy did take a serious hit and so did the city. But Mayor Reed and his hoodlums painted the picture of an imploding city and third world living conditions unless everyone took a pay cut and gave up, or paid more for, hard earned benefits. Still, there were layoffs, then the infamous Measures, V,W, and B. Employees left, and are still leaving in droves. The budget has recovered and money is being saved because less employees are being paid less and benefit costs are being heaped onto current employees and retirees. Tier 2 pensions for new hires are also a money saver for the city. There’s got to be more money somewhere. But now we’re not that good. It’s hard to market a defective product.

Now we are a city of a million people, yet San Jose city number crunchers say our recommended staffing level is 1,202. Two hundred less officers to police a city with 30,000 more people. As I recall, every program manager had to do a budget with projections for future costs and personnel needs. This would include the chief of police. I really would like to know how anyone with half a brain can honestly justify these numbers? Is it really possible to project backwards? Just using my fingers and toes I can figure that 1,202 officers will not be nearly enough to re-staff critical positions and specialized units. The last five years have set this police department back 20 years.

If it doesn’t turn around, there’s not enough duct tape in the world to hold the police department together.

This Op-Ed was written by and the opinion of Mr. Joe Wicker, San Jose Police Sergeant (Ret)

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