Don Rocha Calls for Report on Police Staffing

Given the overwhelming focus on crime statistics and dearth of sworn officers, a San Jose councilman wants the city to take a deeper look at the state of the San Jose Police Department.

“Sometimes in the rough and tumble of political debate we can forget to seek the counsel of professional staff,” Councilman Don Rocha writes in a memo to the Rules and Open Government Committee.

Recent news reports have focused on the “war of words” between Mayor Chuck Reed and the police union, Rocha says.

“In addition to political posturing, however, we also need dispassionate staff analysis—analysis that is honest and forthright both about successes and about remaining challenges, with no outside agenda,” he states.

The report, he says, should include:

  • Staffing projections and historical data going back five years.
  • An update on current and historic academy class sizes, with a discussion about targeted class size.
  • An overview of strategies that allow police to reduce violent crime despite a staffing shortage.
  • An analysis of trade-offs. For example, does a focus on violent crime lead to a rise in other types of crime?
  • A look at police reliance on overtime.
  • A study of whether lower-priority crimes are being underreported. 

More from the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for Sept. 17, 2014:

  • A concerned citizen fears that San Jose is prone to an attack by ISIS and an Ebola outbreak because of illegal immigration. “Given that ISIS wants to hit a target in the United States that has name recognition, a high-tech giant city like San Jose—the Capital of Silicon Valley—is probably a particularly attractive target for ISIS,” writes Lee Ellak. “Especially since no one appears to know how many illegal immigrants are in the city and one or two ISIS agents would probably go unnoticed.”
  • Staircases at Communications Hill have become a destination for fitness enthusiasts, drawing crowds of people at dawn or dusk to the chagrin of nearby residents. Developers want to build another 2,200 units and 28 staircases, which has Councilwoman Madison Nguyen worried. “Over the past two years, residents have voiced their frustrations with the grand staircase and made it clear that any new development will likely create similar problems along the hill,” she writes.
  • Because the city’s Independent Police Auditor, LaDoris Cordell, has become a national model, Mayor Chuck Reed wants to share her job description with other cities.
  • Councilman Xavier Campos says the city should prioritize its riparian corridors, especially given the boom in new development. “In order to preserve these habitats it is necessary to maintain certain widths around these corridors,” he says. “Many of these corridors are currently at risk.”
  • Big Tobacco found a loophole to shill its wares at San Jose bars, Rocha says. State law prevents anyone from handing out free or cheap cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products. But cigars and e-cigs: perfectly legal. High school students brought the matter to Rocha’s attention, asking for policies to restrict the practice. According to state records, Philip Morris reps made 470 visits to bars and clubs in town since 2013, focusing almost exclusively on downtown and south San Jose strip-mall bar Branham Lounge.
  • The city should put a cap on annual rent increases to protect low-income residents, says Campos.

WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meets
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

22 Comments

  1. It would be interesting to hear what the Chief of Police has to say about these questions. The Chief, however, is content to remain silent and allow himself to serve as Reed and Liccardo’s lap dog. His silence allows Reed and Liccardo to dismiss the POA’s explanation of the reality of the situation as union whining, secure in the knowledge that their Chief won’t say a word in support of the truth. At a time when SJPD most needs a leader who isn’t afraid to step up and stand tall, Esquivel has continued shrinking to the point that he is nearly invisible. Esquivel knows the truth about what is happening to SJPD, and why. He is simply unwilling to speak it. That’s the opposite of leadership.

  2. Historically, SJPD operated with a staffing ration of around 1.34 officers per 1000 residents, a ratio that was typically about one-half of that of other large cities. The city council, always more interested in spending on political backers than on core services, was so addicted to cheap policing that on several occasions it allowed its unpaid overtime debt to soar high enough to imperil its credit rating. That’s when big checks had to be cut no matter the state of city coffers. Not exactly topnotch governance, but what’s new?

    When Chuck Reed and Deb Figone promised voters (then considering Measure B) that the city could be adequately policed with just 800 officers they contradicted common sense and the collective wisdom of more than a century of real world experience. Tellingly, they had no support from any of the numerous professional organizations (who can usually supply a quack or two for any claim). The pair couldn’t have been more wrong had they endorsed a school zone speed limit of 65 mph. To call their claim a miscalculation or simple error would require denying the fraudulent intent behind its invention. They lied, and they lied recklessly.

    As of today, SJPD is very close to that .8 officer ratio of their recommend and it is coming apart at the seams. The force has never been so old, never been stretched so thin, never gone so long without fresh bodies, never so eager to leave, never so reliant on overtime, never so unprepared for a major crisis, and never so unattractive to qualified applicants.

    How much more analysis is necessary?

    • Four past police Chiefs, the police union and the rank and file all blame Measure B for the exodus of police officers from San Jose. Yet Johnny Khamis using all his criminal justice wisdom blames the union. This Tea Party council member doesn’t have a clue. It’s no wonder the rank and file despise him. Here is an idea, since surrounding communities are able to lure our finest away maybe we should dissolve the City Council and Mayor’s office. Subcontract the work to surrounding communities. San Jose would save a lot of money while improving the quality of life.

  3. Interesting that the drive-by shooting (no one was hit) near Fire Station 19 went unreported. Also interesting that the news media “decides” to not report true crime stats. Can you say “woof”?

    • 37 robberies in the Evergreen area , 11 in a single day ………But nothing in the Merc about any of it . I guess they don’t want the steady rise in crime to affect their chosen candidate , Liccardo

  4. The police staffing crisis at the SJPD should be examined by the Grand Jury, not the city council and mayor that created the situation.

  5. The police are not leaving San Jose for places in Nevada or Oregon or Arizona. They are going to surrounding smaller communities like Fremont, Milpitas, Santa Cruz and Campbell. Shouldn’t the first step of the Major’s office and City Council be an examination of what they are doing right and San Jose is doing wrong? Four previous police Chiefs said the department is coming apart at the seams and endorsed Cortese. The Mayor called it a political stunt because they didn’t endorse his boy. The Major and his City Council minions have alienated the San Jose police department and nothing will change until they are gone.

  6. > The Major and his City Council minions have alienated the San Jose police department and nothing will change until they are gone.

    You have it exactly backwards.

    The Mayor and City Council — the elected representatives of the people — don’t have to make the police union happy.

    The police union has to make the Mayor, City Council, and the people happy.

    If the divisive police union has convinced the coppers that they can get a better job in Bell, California, the money grubbers should remove themselves to where they can be among their own kind and “protect and serve the highest bidder.”

    • No, they don’t have to make police officers happy. They have the power to reduce officers’ pay and benefits while blaming officers for the city’s supposed financial woes. Officers, unfortunately, have the power to seek employment elsewhere, which so many have done. How selfish of them to not want to work for the worst pay and benefit package in the area, while at the same time being scapegoated by dishonest politicians. I don’t know what they’re thinking. I’m sure that none of those things matter to you in your job.

    • You have it exactly backwards.

      If the Mayor and City Council — the elected representatives of the people — don’t make the police rank and file happy they will leave which they are doing in droves. When the 4 previous respected police chiefs stated the police force was coming apart at the seams, the Mayor called it a political stunt and Khamis blamed the union. I wonder how many additional officers made their decision to leave the force based on that reaction. When Khamis and a police representative held a open discussion in Alamden valley, Khamis said Measure B had nothing to do with the police leaving San Jose. The police officer then stood up and said Measure B is causing officers to leave. The next day Khamis went to his superior and demanded the officer be disciplined for contradicting him in public. All that did was cause the officers in the department to circle the wagon around their fellow officer and increase their resentment of Khamis. Anybody who runs a successful business knows employees leave when they are not happy and having to hire/train new employees costs money while reducing efficiency.

    • The employer doesn’t have to make the employee happy? I guess that’s true if you like turnover (and I’m not talking about food). What a fool.

    • They have ONE JOB (the City Council, Mayor and City Manager), provide for the protection, safety and well being of the citizens of San Jose. They have failed MISERABLY. Is that what you elected them for? Your continued reference to “Bell, California” drives the point home. Those politicians were convicted of being CORRUPT! Just like the present City Council and Mayor of San Jose are.

  7. Wasn’t the case in Bell that the elected politicians and their political appointees were rewarding themselves with taxpayer money by the truck load? There is no comparison here.

  8. Another 6 veteran officers left just this past week for other departments. This coming January, at least 75 are eligible to retire, and another 110 are eligible to retire soon thereafter. This does not count officers who will lateral elsewhere,or are too hurt to work. This department could easily be down to 500 officers in the next 2 years. Sam Liccardo says he has a plan to increase staffing, which is a blatant campaign lie. Sam Liccardo hates public safety and has done more than anyone else to destroy the San Jose Police Department. My only fault with Cortese is he has done little to attack LIccardo over his dismal public safety record, and the fact 5 former police chiefs hat this current administration and endorse Cortese. The Cortese campaign really needs to step this up.

      • So, SJOTB, how do you see things? (Liccardo apologist Carthagus is also welcome to respond)

        Is the continued decline in SJPD’s staffing and continuing reductions in service and dramatic increases in response times to 911 emergency calls of no concern?

        If staffing and service reductions and response time increases are of no concern, what is the point of “Sam’s Plan” to restore SJPD staffing?

        If Staffing and service reductions and response time increases are concerns, What about Sam’s Plan? Do you believe it is viable? Will the plan’s implementation will suddenly draw qualified , competent police officer candidates to SJ?

        Who is your preferred candidate for mayor ( your choice is limited to Liccardo or Cortese since they are the two who are eligible after the primary)

        I

      • Rather than indulge in mindless hyperbole, why don’t you address the specific issues raised. Take Liccardo out of the equation. Just talk about the numbers. The numbers quoted by ‘Observation’ are taken directly from City retirement services and the Office of the Chief.

  9. Wow…nothing on the new “measure B” disease inflicted on the new hires in the Fire Department. No disability options, they have to work as firefighters until 62, only 65% maximum at retirement, 50% responsibility for retirement (for you geniuses in the private sector, you now make WAY more when you retire as compared to a Firefighter), all the money they put into the system for 30+ years does not go to their spouse or family when they die…ad nauseum. Let the Exodus begin!
    San Jose is now the absolute buttocks of Police and Fire employment…….