Are Demotions on the Horizon for SJPD?

The City Auditor is at it again, finding ways to save San Jose money while cutting back services only minimally. This week’s target is the SJPD, which has already suffered from severe budget cuts.

The auditor found that the police force is actually management heavy, with one sergeant for every 4.5 patrol officers. In contrast, the ratio is one for every seven in San Francisco, while it is one seargent for every ten patrol officers in Phoenix.

The difference is significant. By switching to the Phoenix model, the city could save as much as $33 million, a hefty chunk of change now that the projected budget deficit for next year is $90 million. It would also put more officers on the street, potentially making the city safer.

“It is entirely possible, and I hate to even say it, but the next budget could bring not only layoffs but the possibility of demotions,” says Acting Police Chief Chris Moore.

Mayor Chuck Reed is less committed to the idea, while he says he wants to investigate the matter “very seriously.”

“I’m not ready to conclude what the right ratio is,” eed says. 

The mayor may be concerned about the Police Union’s response, especially after this year’s heated dispute over layoffs and pension plans. On the other hand, he cannot ignore the budgetary constraints, and the fact that the projected deficit is getting larger.

Read More at ABC 7.

34 Comments

  1. Was the 1 to 4.5 ratio always the case or because of the relatively recent loss of almost 1000 positions (1360 to 1260)?  Cristoher Commission criticized LAPD for lack of supervision (too few supervisors).  Currently, LAPD geographic divisions average a ratio of 1 to 6.5, which is similar to San Francisco.

  2. While saving money is laudible, a nasty lawsuit could wipe out those savings in the blink of an eye.  Nearly every credible study about police misconduct has placed part or much of the blame squarely on poor or lacking supervisory oversight.  The span of control must be reasonable and not excessive otherwise mistakes increase.  If the mistakes are serious enough, the city will be paying out large sums of money to settle lawsuits along with mending a black eye on their reputations.

  3. The ratio in San Jose was lowered decades ago for reasons that had nothing to do with actual need and everything to do with political expediency. The media was doing what it does best—misleading the public, and race-obsessed Hispanics and Blacks were doing what they do best—blaming the police (the schools, the welfare system, etc.) for the failures of the worst of their lot; thus, it being all but impossible to get punks and thugs to change their ways, it was decided that changes would be made at the PD.

    What the minority groups really wanted was affirmative action in hiring and promoting—to make it easier for their own kind to achieve without merit. They cared not one whit about proper supervision, they merely wanted a political reward and to heap more blame on the government for the abysmal behavior of their own kind. City administrators, always eager to help the minority community mask its failures, opened the treasury and upped the budget, and very soon field sergeants, some of whom had managed teams of 16 officers, saw the size of those teams cut in half.

    But hold your hallelujahs, for the complaining never stopped, because not enough of the expanded class of sergeants were of the desired colors. You see, there was still the issue of the promotional test, one-half of which was written and thus hard to compromise, a problem quickly solved with the arrival of chief Joe McNamara, the first of a long line of self-centered bastards who believed the only merit deserving of respect at promotion time was their own. The new chief, aware of how to make the local press swoon, changed the policy to allow top scoring candidates to be passed over in order to reach down the list and “correct the mistakes of the past”—by, of course, promoting dullards of color. That same scheme was applied to the command ranks, and very soon those ranks were infested with command officers with dismal work records and grade school academic skills.

    Police command officers read, write, and analyze for a living, and those ill-equipped to do so must be placed where they can do least harm. The number of command positions had to be expanded to keep the talented (and some not-so-talented) in the key spots while at the same time create enough broom closet commands to accommodate the incompetents.

    As much as I appreciate efficiency in an organization, I cringe at the damage that would be done if command positions were cut without changes being made in hiring and promotions. To cut without reform would necessitate putting officers working the hard, important jobs under the supervision of the brutally incompetent, a move that absolutely would result in an exodus of talent from the spots where talent is most needed.

    Only a return to a merit-based system could make such a trimming of the ranks feasible. Favoritism of all kinds must be eliminated from hiring and promotion. Do that and once again, for the first time in thirty-plus years, the best and brightest will look upward, no longer put off by a trick ladder that adds hypocrisy at every rung.

    I am fully aware of the studies recommending an increase in the numbers of supervisors, but these, like those that blame minority failure in the classroom on the students per teacher ratio, are all undermined by their refusal to acknowledge that differences in behavior, criminality, and academic performance among the various races and ethnic groups are not the fault of government. More supervision is the politically safe choice, but in reality a good supervisor, one who rightfully earned his/her position, can effectively and efficiently oversee ten or twelve employees.

    I would hope the auditor discover that, as is the case with all government agencies, undoing changes once championed by the know-nothings in the media will be the most important step in increasing efficiency at SJPD.

    • BS Monitor, I would say that you are treading very closely to making many feel that you may have racist tendencies by speaking what is actually true. However, you are in for a disappointment if you think the police brass or the city is going to address the farce that is the promotional process.  You see, they are afflicted with the same disease as so many in Washington.  They believe that they are so much smarter than the unwashed masses.  Nobody but the political cream of the crop could possibly make the right decisions for the good of the whole.  Anybody who might vote to the contrary is clearly not in possession of their faculties and must be re-educated.

      When the voting majority and/or the courts mandate that affirmative action go away, what is the response?  Well, the city just changes the name to “equality assurance” and it is business as usual.  When the rule of 10 was prohibited from being used to accomplish affirmative action, it was left in place and now employed to allow those in power to pick better candidates who are more qualified due to “intangibles” that the testing process may not illuminate.  In other words, minority candidates from the bottom of the list. Don’t fix the testing process.  Don’t provide minority candidates the opportunity to fairly compete.  Let’s just keep putting a finger on the scales, instead of offering mentorships, additional training, and other programs designed to increase the quality of minority candidates.  No, instead the city will just tip the playing field in their direction. 

      Promotional scores have become completely irrelevant and the good o’ boy network is alive and well.  However, it is with a twist.  Every promotional dais will be comprised of the rainbow coalition and scores be damned.  And if you are a white male, then you better fit a certain profile, inclusive of a dark brown smelly nose and an overwhelming propensity to shout the word “yes sir” repeatedly when in the company of the chief, or you will have to test again, and again, and again.  Even a minority though may not make the grade if they are a bit long in the tooth.  The name of the game was youthful exuberance (read a total lack of experience) in the Rob Davis regime.

      Nothing is going to change this in San Jose.  We are a liberal city and we know better than anyone else.  Just like those running the budget in Sacramento, the politicians have no need to listen to the rising chorus of complaints.  There is no motivation to make changes to the system to make it competitive and fair.  When the mayor and his cronies can so completely pull the wool over the bulk of the voting citizenry, why bother with reforms?  As a result, the span of control for supervisors will double in order to save money.  The promotional process will continue to produce about 50% quality supervisors and 50% buffoons, and a monster lawsuit with national media coverage will end up being the only thing jar the public awake, but not until it is too late.

      • Pipe Dream,

        In times past, a racist person/group/organization was defined by his/their/its actions—actions unfair, immoral, or illegal; these days, it can only be defined as any person/group/organization branded so by a member of a minority group or influential news source. The ruinous nature of the label, once reflective of a failure to uphold basic standards of civility, fairness, and decency, has been reduced to reflect nothing more substantive than the opinion of those empowered to slander with impunity. Not only can racism be whatever they say it is, it cannot be anything they say it isn’t, as they have assumed the power to ignore those basic standards of civility, fairness, and decency whenever they see fit.

        When a local representative of the NAACP or La Raza declares a police officer, or an entire department, racist, the standard applied by the news agency reporting it will typically consist of nothing more than trying to make sure the quote is reported accurately. There will be no request for factual substantiation, no standard applied to measure reasonableness, no concern for making public so damaging an allegation. Quite the contrary; in reporting the quote the news story will likely link it to previously recorded, similarly unsubstantiated and damaging accusations. Racism is what the public is fed, and although the who, what, where, when, and why of a particular story may be reported, what will not be examined is the objectivity and credibility of the person or group at the source of the racism charge. At the end of the day, even in those cases where the facts support the officer and/or the department, the accusation of racism will remain, will continue to go unchallenged, and will be added to the huge pile of other unfair and unsubstantiated accusations for future use.

        In today’s twisted society the only way to avoid being called a racist is to copy a technique perfected by the lowly sheep, and that is to match your bleating to that of the surrounding flock. If that requires calling a department that polices a city plagued with drunk Hispanics “racist” for arresting them, then a sheep would say SJPD is racist. Likewise, if the local minority community claims that an Asian deputy police chief who orders Civil Service rules broken in order to stack the hiring list with otherwise ineligible Asians is being “progressive and responsive to the community,” then the safe path for the sheep is to agree.

        I may be at risk of being singled out by the pack, but I can’t live like a sheep. I can no more protect myself against being called a racist than I can make myself call Sean Webby a journalist. It is not my nature to bleat, and I have paid a mighty price for it.

        Believe me, I am under no illusions regarding the capabilities of anyone in the top tiers of the police department having the commitment and principles necessary to reform the system (so as to properly serve the people who pay their inflated salaries). Just as is the case in the political realm, the ladder to the top at the police department has been corrupted into serving as a filtering process, one aimed at keeping out anyone with the courage and integrity required to save it from the wolves threatening to devour it.

  4. There’s an easy explanation for why the ratio is what it is: attrition of officers. Sergeants have more to lose by leaving the department for another agency – particularly having to start all over again as a junior officer. On the other hand, the department has lost somewhere around 60 officers in the last year. Further, the department has the lowest officer:citizen ratio in the nation at somewhere around 1.1 or 1.2:1000. If the city managed its income more responsibly and staffed its safety services in a manner commensurate with other cities – large and small – the ratio would be much different.

    • Thanks to the about 27 officers you combined to arrest thousands of hispanic person’s for fake Drunk in Public citations.  in effect ruining the lives of inocent persons over just plain racism.

      • Bacon,
        Please feel free to join the force and fix the problem as you see fit. Walk your talk instead of just pointing your finger at what you think the problem is. My guess is if you join the force, your opinion will change sooner than later.

      • Bacon,
        I know I shouldn’t respond to your ridiculous statement, but what on earth purpose would police officers gain for arresting “thousands of hispanic person’s for fake Drunk in Public”? This is especially ridiculous since so many San Jose Police officers are Hispanic themself.

    • Steve,

      I agree. I read about the “Shop with a cop” program and thought it was a great way to build community with kids, and at such an impressionable age. The police don’t have to simply go shopping though; as has been repeatedly requested by neighborhoods I’d really like to see the police have longer lengths of time in their assigned “beats” or districts, say perhaps a year. Both neighborhoods and police would benefit from the knowledge building about the neighborhood and its residents.

      My .02.

      Tina

      • Tina,
        The vast majority of patrol officers work in the same area for at least a year, if not years. Officers tend to bid the same district because they have gotten familiar with the area and neighborhood. For the most part, what you are wishing for is already happening. I have worked in the same district for 4 years, and most other officers do the same.

  5. The “auditor” works for “Figone”, The succubus of San Jose. As a front line supervisor, am I really to believe this garbage?I supervise an 8 man team. When my channel partner is gone I can supervise up to 15 at a time. Where exactly does this translate into 4.5 officers?
    The reality is the city will shrink the department and the citizens will suffer. The result will be longer waiting times, less incidents investigated and a case closure rate that will drop.
    Please remember that when the police take too long, or do not show for hours, it was your voted representatives that decided your personal issues were not their number one priority.
    Take solace in the fact, when you call 911, we will come. It just may take awhile.

      • And if you think that Fione could not or would not pressure the council to fire the auditor if the numbers were nto in her favor you are living in la la land!

    • I feel good when the library is open. I like the library. There are many books there. The librarians are nice and like to help me find books that I like except when they are busy surfing the web or talking on the phone to their friends. Then they can be short tempered and rude.  They are in charge of the library and they let everyone talk as loud as they want and look at dirty pictures on the internet – they say is “freedom of speach.”

      I like police too. The police keep me safe by arresting bad guys. They might make a mistake and arrest me. On second thought I like the library more than I like the police.

      If CM Debra Figone, Mayor Reed, Pete Constant and PierLuigi Oliverio could fire all the police then they would have lots of money to keep the library open more. They might even have enough money to build more libraries and buy more books and upgrade all the computers and internet access to cable or even satellite then the bad men could download more dirty movies at an even faser speed!

      What if they had so much money that they decided to keep all the libraries open 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year? I think all the bad people would decide to read books or look at least look at dirty pictures! Then they wouldn’t have time to do bad things like murder, rape, rob, burg, sell drugs use drugs, beat their significant other, and all kinds of other stuff. Wow , if all the bad people stopped being bad then we really wouldn’t need the police would we?

      Then all the out of work police could also go to the library and read or do what ever – they would probably ruin the atmosphere because they would expect people to be quiet and respectfull of others, but the librarians would educate them pretty quick on how it is at the library. It’s just a place to hang out when you have nothing better to do.

      Maybe with all the money the City will save by getting rid of the police they could get TV’s and open a cafeteria so I could get some food. I also want a quiet room that I can go to and take a nap when I get tired. If I get sick, they should have a Doctor on hand to take care of me. If I need medication they will need to have a pharmacy too.   

      If the City RUns out of the money they save by gettign rid of the police, then they should really stop filling the potholes and paving the roads. Ultimatley that will ruin all the cars and people will stop driving in San Jose. If by some small chance the crime rate goes up and we loose our designation as one of the Safest Large Cities in America because we don’t have any police at least our standing among the “greenest cities in America” will improve.

    • Not only that, but – and this is directed to Tina and others who think as she does – at this point, it doesn’t matter if the city forces officers to bid for a district for a year-long shift. With attrition being what it is and staffing levels what they are and declining, we are going to be too busy dealing with calls and crimes to get to know people like Tina. In terms of the practical outcome that Tina or someone like her experienced, there would be no difference. However, it would create additional hardships and burdens on officers – particularly when it comes to family time, and planning for vacations, which, due to staffing levels, is becoming increasingly difficult.

  6. I believe there are about 200 sergeants in SJPD. Even if they demoted 100 sergeants, reduced their salary by 15% back to that of a patrol officer, and put them back in patrol, how does this possibly add up to a savings of $33 million dollars?

    • Just do the math.
      Let’s say a sergeant retires on a $100K/yr pension while a patrol officer retires on “only” $85K/yr. That’s a difference of $15K/yr, right? Let’s say both these guys draw this pension for 30 years. The difference is $15,000 X 30 = $450,000. That’s the savings to the City for ONE demotion. Multiply that by 100 fewer sergeants and the savings to the City would be $45 million.

      • John,
        The $33 million dollars is suppose to be the annual savings, not over the next 30 years. You are also delusional if you think officers collect pensions for 30 years after they retire. Statistically, most officers pass away within 15 years of retitiring – many much, much, sooner. I have known many that have died within just a few years of retiring.

  7. Some departments have worked with a corporal rank.  SGT is a major promotion and its tough to know if you are promoting the right people based on just their work as an officer.  The CPL would allow kind of a transitional supervision position.  It would encourage younger officers to stay as it would show some promotion potential, and it would provide additional supervision to allow for less SGTs, so that ration could be enlarged.

    What to do with the top heavy current ranks?  I would actually suggest that golden handshakes and early retirement would be a better way of trimming than last hired first fired.  In terms of retirements, I’m still a fan of the 3rd way, increasing beneficiary contributions towards 50/50 rather than simply kicking the can down the road and making new hires work harder for less.

    SJ is dealing with the pension crises in small ways, but this is not a city, county or even statewide problem, its national.  Since the 1980’s we’ve been fudging the numbers (life span, investment gains) while handing out increased benefits.  Kind of a civic Ponzi scheme and its amplified in SJ because they run their own pension fund and have to shoulder all the risk associated with their stupid decisions.  Same mistakes were made in every big city in America and most are masked behind statewide pension systems that are still waiting to break the bad news to state legislatures.  Do some research on Colorado to see what’s coming.

  8. The reason San Francisco’s officer to sergeant ratio is 1:7 compared to San Jose’s 1:4.5 is because SJPD does not have a detective rank (they are called inspectors in SFPD).  In most major PD’s, officers holding a detective rank are paid similar to sergeant.  In SJPD, many sergeants perform the duties of a detective and do not supervise like a patrol sergeant would.

  9. Unbelievable! From the inside looking in, I can tell you that many members of the PD from the Sgt. level on up have delusions of grandeur. San Jose has very little real crime so it is very possible for one Sgt. to supervise an entire division. Can you imagine if there were more than one homicide in the city at one time during the day or two or more major events occurring at the same time. We need Officers, not Sgt’s.

    The fact is that there were far to many young bucks promoted and most of them have very little experience. Layoffs and demotions are in line with getting this department back on track. I’ve seen far too many people get promoted with recent complaints of misconduct, decent test takers and those who had insight to the test content. Never hurts to have a dad that can help.

    What we forget and what many of those above the officer level fail to realize is that there are a multitude of talented people who have no interest in any title above officer. Many of these folks are graduates of some of the finest Universities in the country. Remember our former chief had an online degree and the majority of Sgt’s and above meet the minimum education requirements.

    Demotions will minimize the damage at this point. If there is an opportunity to correct mistakes that have been made over the past few years, this is it. As for layoffs, it’s a sign of the times. Layoffs should have been made last year. I paid my dues to earn as much as possible over the past couple of decades. Myself and my family have made many sacrifices. I am not willing to protect the job of a kid who can easily transition careers and has only he/she to support.

    Looking at those on the wall as of late, it is embarrassing to see the lack of professionalism that exists. I have never seen such an egotistical and inexperienced group. We hardly match up to major departments in the state.
    San Jose command staff has always had the executive mentality. Remember, the Police Department works for the citizen’s, we are not a profit driven company. 
    I

    • It looks as if some mayor reed cronie or habitual cop hater is attempting to pass as a member of sjpd with this post.  Any real cop would see this post for what it is: an attempt to divide the force… nice try, not falling for it.

      • You sound like an officer who complained to a Sgt. that no one liked you.  You then requested the Sgt. to order members of the team to like you.
            Realist is right on the mark.  I know of several officers who will never take the test.  The idea of being one of the examples walking around the department has led to these feelings.
          The force is divided.  Why last week we were told that the bottom 200 members should go find a job!  We have only a few leaders.  The rest are managers looking on how to feather the nest upon leaving.

    • The moment Realist said that San Jose has very little real crime the poster took a credibility hit.  San Jose has a low crime rate for a city of it’s size.  However, it still has serious crime including an resurgence of gang activity.  There is a reason San Jose went from number one to number four in safest big cities.  The second comment that was a large clue was that layoffs would get the department back on track. 

      Chief Rob Davis presented a five-year staffing plan not long ago.  The proposal presented credible and factual information justifying a significant increase in staffing, not layoffs and demotions.  This was prior to the inexorable decline in revenue.  However, it was based upon delivering police services to a city of one million people with a crime rate that has only increased.  To say that layoffs would help the department is ludicrous and could only come from a non-police employee and likely a city hall stooge.

      “Insight to the test content”?  Do we have any facts that substantiate such a serious allegation or is this just rumors and conjecture spread by disgruntled applicants with lower scores complaining to their city hall friends.  There is no way that Realist could be a sworn officer with the comments made.  Even the most jaded cynical officer passed over for promotion repeatedly (and probably for good cause) would not stoop to such unprofessional and disloyal comments.

  10. My question is who supervises the supervisors.  Seems that all the high payouts are for the supervisors at the police department.  Seems the officers always held accountable for the supervisors upon retirement.  If you look at the payouts upon retirement Sgt’s Lt’s and Capt’s are at the top of the list.  Why even the POA VP made 47,000 dollars for 2009.  Did any officers make that amount?
        With patrol short on officers why don’t they put some people back in patrol.  Check out the Mercury News for police payouts and overtime.  Top earners are always sgt. and above.

  11. “San Jose has very little real crime…”  We may not have many homicides but we have plenty of rapes, robberies, auto theefts and assorted violent assaults that take priority over all of the beer runs, DV’s and minor thefts that officers have found creative ways of kssing off so they can get back to searching for a wifi spot to do what ever they do on their laptops.  SJ also has a high number of burglaries that are not investigated because there is no staffing and “its JUST a property crime.”

    “Can you imagine if there were more than one homicide in the city at one time during the day or two or more major events occurring at the same time?”  YES infact the lowest staff shift (grave)  has experienced multiple major incidents including 3 homicides where there weren’t enough offciers OR Sergeants to adequately cover all scenes – but we did. Usually at those type of scenes Sergeants have to do a lot of hand holding to motivate officers to do the right thing when it comes to simple things like cover a perimeter on a crime scene – forget trying to get the brainiacs to do a proper canvass for witnesses – that is soooooo beneath their education and experience – besides actually doing police work on-duty tends to get in the way of working payjobs off-duty.

    “The fact is that there were far to many young bucks promoted and most of them have very little experience.”  What the young buck may lack in experience they more than make up for in work-ethic.

    “I’ve seen far too many people get promoted with recent complaints of misconduct, decent test takers and those who had insight to the test content.” FOlks this is the #1 most often excuse uttered from officers who score near the bottom of any promotional or specialized unit test – the profile here is a “warm body in a uniform parked in a city car.”

    “What we forget and what many of those above the officer level fail to realize is that there are a multitude of talented people who have no interest in any title above officer. Many of these folks are graduates of some of the finest Universities in the country.”  Let them speak for themselves!

    “Demotions will minimize the damage at this point. If there is an opportunity to correct mistakes that have been made over the past few years, this is it.”  REALLY??? You want to bring down the collective IQ and ability of the officer braintrust rank by demoting the “young bucks” back into your midst?  Interesting – will you be taking a few under your wing to help mold them into better cops? 

    “As for layoffs, it’s a sign of the times. Layoffs should have been made last year.”  You are right about this but I have to commend the majority of union members who voted to take a paycut to save newer officers jobs. I don’t think it inspired many of the rookies to actually do do mre than suit up for their shift. For those that are worth what they are paid – Start looking for another job in a city that appreciates what you do. 

    “I paid my dues to earn as much as possible over the past couple of decades.”  Also correct as long as you can say that you do the right thing which includes using free patrol time to supress crime instead of resting so you can work your payjob.

    “Looking at those on the wall as of late, it is embarrassing to see the lack of professionalism that exists. I have never seen such an egotistical and inexperienced group. We hardly match up to major departments in the state.”  Why didn’t you promote??? Maybe you could have been the difference!

    “Remember, the Police Department works for the citizen’s, we are not a profit driven company. ”
    Very true – just remeber that when you are eating at an HP establishment and a citizen interupts your tax payer funded C7 to ask you a question.

  12. Ford Motor Company went through a major restructuring after it realized it had one “manager” per every five line employees.

    It has been wildly profitable ever since, regardless of the eceonomy.

  13. Ratio of supervisors to workers and number of departments, duplicate functions and management layers ( 6-9) between workers and city manager across city are excessive and can be reduced because

    1) eliminating mostly open unfilled 1000+ worker positions and less that 100 actual layoffs with few supervisors and managers

    2) city has creating many unnecessary city departments that could be easily combined ( police / fire – public safety , eliminated , transferred to redevelopment ( housing, economic development ) or functions outsourced ( office supplies, vehicle maintenance, building and grounds upkeep )  that would save many millions and eliminated most budget deficit by eliminating 100-200 unnecessary high paid management positions

    3) count the excessive number (6-9) of management levels between city manager and workers. 2-4 + levels could easily be eliminated with efficient improved, time to approval reduced and costs cut Industry cut management levels but government has not

    4) many department assistant and deputy positions could easily be cut and millions saved

    .

    You will be able to tell if supervisor to worker audit of PD was fair audit and not politically motivated if the next supervisor to worker audit will be

    1) the rest of city staff with recommendations to reduce ratio of supervisors, managers directors and assistant city manager to workers

    but if the next supervisor to worker audit is

    2) fire department

    3) or does not audit all other city departments and like type / duplicate activities ( transportation / airport, redevelopment / city departments doing same function ( finance , economic development , housing , that can be easily combined

    then the accusations that city manager used her enemies target list and influenced the audit target are true

  14. I hope everyone had a fine holiday. I certainly did.

    Mr. Espejo, you certainly have thin skin. Sorry to consume your time with such a lengthly reply on your behalf. You sure do think highly of yourself son. I hope you have developed some transferable skills while mingling with that sharp group downtown.

    When holding an anchor it sure is hard to float.