San Jose’s police union reached a tentative agreement with the city this week that would restore officer salaries over the next three years. The Police Officers Association is expected to be on board with the plan, and so is the City Council.
But when asked for comment, POA President Jim Unland’s wasn’t necessarily thrilled, given that the “raises” will be incremental after the city slashed police pay by 10 percent since 2009. In two years, Unland says, the San Jose Police Department will once again be at a competitive disadvantage with departments in other cities.
“I’ve got mixed feelings on it,” he said. “We’re going to be sitting there at the end of 2015 saying, ‘Wow, we’re way behind the curve.’”
The signed agreement requires ratification from the POA and a final OK from the council. The agreement, which will be posted online two weeks before the council meeting, would spread out the raise: 4 percent this year and 3.3 percent for each of the following two.
Mayor Chuck Reed—who’s been at odds with the POA since rolling out his much-maligned Measure B pension reforms—said the raise was overdue.
“Our officers work hard and deserve a raise,” he said in a statement. “This agreement represents a fair compromise that will allow us to restore their 10 percent pay cut over time and in a manner that prevents us from having to immediately cut services.”
Hopefully, Reed added, restoring salaries will prevent more officers from leaving the force. The city’s sworn-staff count has dwindled to 1,000, down from 1,400 a few years ago.
“This agreement also represents an important component of our ongoing efforts to retain our talented officers and grow the size of the police force in the years ahead,” Reed said. “And by providing our officers with certainty over the next two-and-a-half years rather than ongoing negotiations, our city and the police union will be able to focus more of their energies on providing high quality police services to our community.”