City Audit: San Jose Should Invest More in Police Hiring

As departures continue to outpace new hires, a new audit directs the San Jose Police Department to invest more in marketing, expand its recruiting unit and change some requirements to broaden the pool of applicants.

In the past few years, as the city and its public safety unions sparred over pension reform, San Jose has seen a steady rise in vacancies, now at a historic high of 21 percent. The actual number of vacant police officer positions—out of a total of 871—grew from 40 in 2012 to 181 this summer.

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“This more than quadruples the number of police officer positions for which the department must recruit,” according to a report by city auditor Sharon Erickson, which comes up for review at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

This year, the city plans to graduate three academies, which it has struggled to fill even after a deal that restored pay and dialed back some controversial pension cuts.

The target number for each class is 48 recruits, but each round brings a new record low. Only 13 cadets signed on to the academy this month, while even fewer are expected to make it to graduation.

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According to Erickson, San Jose is not alone in its struggle to fill the ranks.

In 2008, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, police agencies nationwide hired about 61,000 officers but lost 51,000 through resignations (54 percent), non-medical retirements (23 percent), dismissals (10 percent), probationary rejections (5 percent) and disability retirements (5 percent).

While increased demand and federal funding expanded police agencies in the late 1990s, the trend reversed in the decade to follow. Erickson cited a recent ABC News report that found a 90 percent drop in the number of applicants in some cities.

“While public safety departments face some of the same problems other employers do with U.S. unemployment at a 30-year low, police recruiters are additionally stymied by the job’s low pay, tarnished image, increasingly tougher standards for new recruits and limited job flexibility.”

Erickson said the SJPD should expand its recruiting unit, spend more on advertising and come up with a way to analyze which recruitment events have the highest yield of qualified candidates.

Compared to other cities, San Jose has relatively few recruiters, the audit found. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has four full-time recruiters to fill 175 vacancies this year. By contrast, SJPD employs three full-time recruiters to fill 200 sworn vacancies.

San Jose recruiters also told auditors that they lack basic tools, including tablets to allow people to apply online at career fairs. Erickson recommended hiring more civilian staffers to help recruiters.

The audit also found that the SJPD didn’t make the most of its marketing budget. A $270,000 contract with an outside communications firm was only half used by the end of this past fiscal year. Because of a lack of communication, several tasks were left unfinished, advertising lapsed for a few months and a recruiting website that should have been finished was never built.

Some of that money should have paid for efforts to market the agency to a more diverse pool of applicants, according to the report. While Asian Americans make up about 32 percent of San Jose’s population, they comprise just 15 percent of SJPD’s sworn staff. A similar ratio exists for Latinos, who make up 33 percent of the city population but comprise just 24 percent of the agency’s sworn officers.

The agency could also tweak its requirements to accommodate more military veterans, the report said. Waiving college credits for relevant military experience could open the doors to more applicants.

One of the biggest hurdles for San Jose, however, is that net compensation doesn’t stack up to that of other Bay Area law enforcement agencies. Many officers leaving San Jose have taken jobs at nearby agencies.

“San Jose Police Department staff expressed concern that San Jose’s reputation as a top-choice employers has declined due to a variety of reasons, including take-home pay,” Erickson reported. “Internally, department staff members report that they face low morale. This can affect potential future candidates and retention of recruits. … In our opinion, the City needs to actively address morale and pay issues within the police department.”

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for October 6, 2015:

  • Both of the city’s casinos have seen a decline in calls for police service this past year, according to an annual San Jose Police Department report of cardroom activity. Bay 101 had 224 calls for service this past year—down from 265 in 2012 and 243 in 2013—nine of which ended in an arrest and only one that was considered a gambling-related crime. Calls for service at Casino M8trix dropped from 235 in 2012, to 231 in 2013, and 215 in this past year.
  • The city issued a series of warnings to Casino M8trix over permitting issues and other regulatory violations. The cardroom paid a $620,000 fine for allowing an unlicensed marketing consultant to execute contracts and control gaming activities, in violation of city rules. The casino also had to install new surveillance cameras to allow the city’s Division of Gaming Control to observe the cardroom operations. The casino also ran afoul of state law by lying about profits to avoid tax liabilities and charitable contributions. The California Bureau of Gambling Control reached a settlement with the owners, while a related commission is still deciding whether to revoke the license of one of the stockowners.
  • San Jose wants to ditch its beleaguered ambulance provider, Rural Metro, and possibly take over emergency transport for all of Santa Clara County. Another option proposed would have the San Jose Fire Department team up with a more financially stable private ambulance company. Mayor Sam Liccardo said a regional public-private approach would provide higher quality and more cost-effective service. Basically anything, he said, would be an improvement over Rural Metro. “Through the duration of Santa Clara [County]’s contract with Rural Metro, the company has declared bankruptcy, required an infusion of county funding, failed to obtain proper CPR certifications for employees, lost permits to transfer patients between medical facilities and continued subpar response time for several communities,” he wrote in a memo.
  • After a series of high-profile break-ins, the Mineta San Jose International Airport will erect a wire fence. The city had to put the project out to bid a second time after deciding to switch from welded wire to a sturdier one-inch chain link fence.
  • Fewer people are playing golf, which has led to a drop in revenue at the city’s three golf courses: Los Lagos, Rancho del Pueblo and Muni. The courses, which are supposed to be self-sustaining, required a subsidy this year of $2.6 million, according to a new audit. Unless the city wants to keep shelling out cash to cover those operating losses, it’s going to have to sell land to pay off some of its debt or figure out ways to lure more people by converting some of the courses to softball, soccer or baseball fields.
  • With the city ready to renew its lease on a police vehicle and evidence warehouse for $2.2 million over the next three years, Mayor Liccardo has suggested actually buying the place to save money in the log run.
  • More businesses have expressed an interest in working with the city to create more of those curb cafes that have been cropping up around downtown and Willow Glen.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
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.

50 Comments

  1. A lack of tablets gets mentioned as a factor before take home pay? Makes sense to me. A quality applicant would definitely be forever discouraged from applying if they couldn’t do so on a shiny, new tablet. Also, the exhilarating experience of tablet application would definitely make everyone forget about inferior take home pay. Maybe someone needs to audit the auditor.

    • Compensation and benefits are clearly the biggest issues for recruits. But why are you shooting the messenger, Pete? The auditor was just repeating what the recruiters, (who are SJPD officers, right?) told her. “San Jose recruiters also told auditors that they lack basic tools, including tablets to allow people to apply online at career fairs.”

      • Take home pay and morale are both huge issues. The rest are minor in comparison. Yet the report and this article place those two major issues at the end of the discussion, as if they had equal or lesser importance when compare to tablets and the number or recruiters. You can come up with the greatest sale pitch possible, but if you’re selling an inferior product you are doomed to failure.

        • True enough, Pete, but that does not respond to my comment about why you shot the messenger. The auditor was just repeating what the recruiters said, so why lay into the auditor? So is the low morale only a function of take home pay or is it also because of the succession of kiss ass PC chiefs SJPD has had who don’t have the backs of the officers?

          • It’s pay and benefits, the stance the city has taken the last few years, the leadership problem you mentioned, and the feeling that comes from seeing an organization that you were so proud to work for become a shadow of its former self.

      • I know for a fact that info about tablet use did not come from SJPD officers. They/auditor needed something to say for an excuse as to why they aren’t hitting their recruitment and hiring goals but weren’t allowed to discuss pay or benefits. Glad to be gone. Ships taking on water and it just might sink.

        • So tell us TRUTHSERUM, just exactly how do you know this? Who did the comment come from?

  2. This entire situation is laughable. Liccardo is a giant buffoon! The same people were told time and time that this snow ball would grow to a level that would take a decade if not more to overcome. The politicians and voters alike put this mess into play. They traded away decades of proactive police work, fine tuning how we handle burglaries, gang assaults, prostitution and traffic enforcement. No one should be surprised that we are where we are because of short sighted corrupt politicians who have line the pockets of special interests i.e. lawyers, land developers and giant contractors such as Devcon, Swenson, McEnery and so on…… Now we have weekly fatality accidents (no police motor officers with radar or monitoring red lights in key intersections), prostitues wearing bikinis and micro skirts with their high heels up and down first street and their pimps eating and drinking at the Wienerschnitzel (no more undercover VICE unit), gang members drinking in open areas of neighborhoods, drive by shootings and carjackings, which are rarely reported in the media but are easy to find in the daily watch commander entries. (no VCET gang unit), residential burglaries that are still out of control (2 burglary detectives assigned to a city of 1.1 million), and patrol teams for each district that one time numbered 7-9 officers per team and now go out with an average of 4 and somedays just 3. On top of all of this did the city save money? Nope, but a bunch of city paid law firms are now a lot wealthier thanks to SAM and his arrogant bunch. Im so proud of the educated San Jose voter that still whines and thumbs their nose at whats left of their “police force”….

    • @THERELIABLEINFORMER, wow, just what I was thinking……I would have to add the best bang for the buck for marketing and recruitment would be to dump Liccardo and about half the City Council.

    • Amen to that! You left out the un-honorable Chuck Reed, baffoon extraordinaire. Reed’s now working on the state level to screw up the entire state system. Wake up voters and thing long-term!

  3. Our elected city mayor,board of supervisors are all poor stewards of our tax payer dollars. I support our officer’s being made whole from the terrible effects of measure B. Before you hire contractors for systems that go way over the original bid,take care of our officers. Every resident of San Jose should be horrified at how our money is used.

  4. This situation results from people who are incompetent at anything, except their skill at getting elected, and then re-elected.

    I recall a situation in the ’70’s or ’80’s, where a big city in the Northeast could not get enough black police officers to fill the court-mandated quota.

    They tried everything they could think of: higher pay, benefits, freebies of all kinds. Very few takers, because if blacks are anything, they are conformists to black peer pressure. So no one wanted to step up and take the job.

    Then someone got a great idea: advertise in the deep South, where the pay package seemed astounding to local blacks, who had a somewhat different attitude. The quota was filled in short order.

    The pay package offered to police recruits here isn’t mentioned (why not??), but it must look astonishing to someone in Arkansas or Mississippi. And with the ongoing dumbing-down of the population by the government .edu factories, a degree should certainly not be a requirement. Just give ‘em a good intelligence test, and physical. Open the slots to anyone who can pass. Hire the big, smart ones. You’d probably have a line of applicants from here to LA.

    Next, why does San Jose run its own police academies? It seems that contracting with other, highly regarded academies would be far more efficient. (And golf courses?? Sell ‘em! Keep them zoned for golf, and levy a city tax. Win-win.)

    A city, like a business, either succeds or fails based on its management. Clearly we have inept managers. There are plenty of common sense individuals who could step in and fix this, if the city just gave them the authority and got out of the way.

    But these elected jamokes get swelled heads, believing they can succeed above their Peter Principle limit. VTA found out that they couldn’t run transportation half as well as the contract bus companies. Now the VTA budget has exploded out of control, and the taxes paid by the bus companies are gone.

    The same problems are happening with our police protection. The mayor and council are simply unfit for this job, if they can’t provide adequate law enforcement within a reasonable budget.

    Other cities do it. So no more excuses.

  5. Correction JWAD 13 people were offered recruit/academy jobs for the next academy class. 11 accepted. 1 declined the offer for unknown reasons while the second declined and accepted job with another police department.

  6. The city squandered its investment. Conservatively, 500 officers have left for other police departments. Conservatively, each officer received at least $200,000 in training. Conservatively, each officer that left had worked at SJPD at least an average of 5 years. Conservatively, that comes out to an investment loss of $100,000,000 and a loss of 2,500 years of institutional knowledge.

    The SJPD is at an absolute crisis level of so few officers. Working patrol is extremely hazardous to the officers due to not only no fills on calls, but the extreme fatigue that is being caused by working thousands of hours of mandated overtime. Our ivory tower leaders have buried their heads in the sand, coming up with plan after failed plan, and meanwhile the Titanic continues to sink.

    The ship has sailed when it comes to investing in officers. The city has always had the philosophy of “save a dime, lose a dollar” and nobody in a politically appointed position dare question this lest they are fired. Even though a contract was reached, officers and even command staff continue to leave, due to the irreparable, non-financial harm caused by a lying administration whom can’t be trusted. Where are all the former SJPD officers that were going to flock back to SJPD when the contract was settled? No where to bee seen. Why would they?

    This is a nice, albeit meaningless report by the city auditor.

    • “Working patrol is extremely hazardous to the officers due to not only no fills on calls…” I believe all calls are potentially hazardous, but where does what you described occur? I live in Willow Glen and go downtown for lunch a couple of days a week, drive through Almaden, and pass through Cambrian on the way to Campbell or Los Gatos. I never see a single patrol car off to the side of the road or in a parking lot dealing with a suspect. It’s always 3-5 units, with most of them standing around talking to each other while one guy engages the suspect. It’s like Caltrans—one guy digging while four guys watch. A while back I saw seven units converged around one scrawny Mexican in the Oakridge Mall parking lot. They were all there when I arrived, I don’t know how long they had already been there, and they were all still standing around chatting 45 minutes later when I left.

      • John, there is not even 3-4 officers that cover a huge district which used to have 7-8 officers. Calls are stacked up for service at all times of day. You make some broad generalizations based on anecdotal observations then extrapolate the entire department must be lazy. My brothers and sisters work their asses to the bone, 20-30 hours a week of mandatory overtime, triaging calls for service, then going to these calls with far too few resources. By the way, I have seen “one scrawny” hispanic high on pcp take on 6 large police officers. When was the last time you fought somebody high on meth or pcp? Once you have, you will understand why there is strength in numbers. We really want to go home at night rather that somebody tell our family we got killed at work.

        • Absolute Truth ! Many , Many times the SJFD is on scene waiting for SJPD to come available . The Boys/girls in Blue are working their tails off . I wouldn’t expect someone who has never put a badge on to completely understand . But , it is insanely unfair to judge the boys/girls in blue without at least trying to understand what they face on the daily .
          JMO , try taking a walk on the wild side. Eastside , Southside at night . Im fairly certain you will NOT feel as comfortable as you were driving around Almaden, Willow Glen or Cambrian area

      • JM O’CONNOR…you went downtown for lunch? If you think Lincoln Avenue is downtown you are lost. Go to the real downtown First and Clara and take a good look at reality. Cops show up to call 3 or 4 deep cause if one cop needs assistance and needs it fast, it takes too long to get him/her help. So they travel in packs now. Safety in numbers. Plus your independent police auditor wouldn’t like it if a solo cop really took care of business. So multiple cops with one perp sends a signal to the solo crook that there are too many cops here to behave badly.

      • Hi John,
        Have you ever been in foot pursuit of an armed felon who finds a hiding spot in the backyard of a neighborhood house? No, that is what I thought. Well, what happens is as many officers respond as possible to set up a perimeter and contain and capture the suspect. Maybe he was even hiding in your backyard. Maybe that suspect has a gun or a knife…it happens all the times. What happens next is the officers meet in one spot to debrief and defuse after a volatile situation, and the suspect is with them in custody. Then a citizen such as yourself drives by and all he sees is a bunch of lazy cops standing around a scrawny suspect, while one of the lazy cops speaks with the suspect. Then the citizen gets on a website such as SJI, and blasts the cops for being lazy. Please John, go through the citizens academy, or better yet become a police officer to educate yourself before spewing your ignorance.

        • JMO’s crowning achievement in life was carrying Mayor Reed’s water when he served on the Civil Grand Jury that concluded that pensions and benefits for public employees… Reed liked to hang his hat on JMO’s report. They guy is as two faced and uninformed as they come – one minute talking about his admiration for SJPD and in the next he post some half brained uninformed post exemplified above…

          • I was not on the GJ that investigated and reported on city pensions WeedBoy. That report was issued by the GJ two years prior to my term on the GJ, and it examined not just CSJ pensions, but the pensions of all 15 cities in the county as well as the county itself. I never read that report and certainly never spoke to Chuck Reed about it. Besides, GJ reports are written by a team, not just one person, and are adopted by the GJ as a whole. The only uniformed person in this matter is you WeedBoy. It must be peaceful to be so ignorant.

          • Sorry JMO I was wrong. Turns out I know as much about your tenure on the Grand Jury as you know about police work. Hope you enjoy your ignorance as much as I enjoy mine.

      • Mr. O’Connor,

        I’m sure you are a nice man but your statement prompts me to wonder which city you were actually in when you supposedly saw this 4-5 patrol officer “congregation”. If there were that many officers dealing with a single subject (assuming there weren’t other subjects who had just fled into the surrounding area), it is because a “show of force often precludes a use of force”.

        As well, in San Jose, I don’t believe there are more than 4-5 Units in-service on the entire south end of the city, or in Willow Glen, especially on midnight shifts. Often there isn’t even 4-5 patrol Units in the immediate area that can arrive within the target response time for “priority 1 or 2” calls such as an “active shooter” event, a robbery, or a homicide in progress!

        It’s not particularly uncommon for a dispatcher (who is probably on mandatory overtime working 2-3 simulcast radio channels) to have to pull a Unit from the far south end of town, like Cottle and Santa Teresa, and send that Unit clear up to the Berryessa area to handle a high priority or an “officer needs assistance” call because there aren’t any other Units that aren’t tied up on high priority calls themselves and that are closer to send!

        If you can find 4-5 unassigned Units somewhere, you are probably in a neighboring jurisdiction but that mistake is understandable since so many of the cops working in the neighboring jurisdictions used to work for SJPD anyway! The only thing that would make your statement less credible would be for you to state that you saw 4-5 SJPD officers standing around, at night, particularly downtown, and none of them was working mandatory overtime!

        If there are those rare occasions where officers do “bunch up”, I can practically guarantee you that only 1 or 2 of them is actually, temporarily out of service for low priority calls, trying to eat and the others are writing reports, dividing up reports or tasks on a mutual call, or exchanging beat information and are subject to immediate dispatch. If it were up to me, I would require an exercise at the Police Academy that required an officer to negotiate a high speed obstacle course on the way to a simulated felony assault in progress, while steering with his knees, eating a hamburger and talking on the radio, because sometimes it’s either that or you don’t eat!

      • O’Connor,

        I’ve been in some of the best fights of my life with “scrawny Mexicans.” It’s because these people are hard-working people and they can fight. Unfortunately for them, they don’t sleep in the cozy, climate controlled bed you do. You probably have never fought anyone in your life. Do us all a favor and stop commenting. You’re a fool.

  7. I read the above memo by Liccardo wanting to extend the lease of the police property warehouse by another 3 years. The tenant of that property appears to be a real estate business owned by the Mulcahy family of Willow Glen. Should note everybody on the city council that took campaign contributions from the business or the family should be recusing themselves on this vote?

  8. And yes, Michael Mulcahy, CEO of NexGen Partners, owner of the land the Mayor recommending the city pay more money to for the the police warehouse, did endorse Liccardo for Mayor.

    • …and the locals behind the lost battle to bring the A’s to SJ …. AND currently stand to gain all kinds of money by getting the Willow Glen Road Diet made permanent. How will they do that? A permanent road diet on Lincoln allows changes to zoning/development law that permit increases the height limit on buildings along Lincoln. There is a plan to build UP along Lincoln to put housing on top of existing buildings. Who owns quite a bit of land and building on Lincoln? Mulcahy and Co.

      The Road Diet Trial proved a failure.Lincoln was to be repaved and repainted to the old 4 lane configuration this month. The repaving and repainting has been put off until next summer at the earliest to allow the Trial to continue so more data can be gathered. Why? The decision was made by the Transportation Committee but NOW Riccardo and the Council have decided to step in at the request of …. (guess who)?

  9. Wow another “one time at band camp ” story…. Yes I am John Q Citizen driving by in my motor vehicle and as I glance over I see 7 cops and a scrawny Mexican at Oakridge. Because I am one of the super astute san jose voting populous I have determined that this is overkill. When I watch reruns of Adam12 Reed and Malloy always take off the bank robber or kidnapper on their own. Hey Private Joker aka JMO I bet you had no idea that the guy they took off that day in the Oakridge lot was onviewed by an off duty officer who spotted a murder suspect who had been on the run for sometime. Yes several officers were there as often happens on the “big one” Just like the multiple carjackings that have been occurring weekly along with the hot 459’s…. Please stop trying to do damage control, the damage is already done…. I hear Hillary is looking for campaign help

    • Reliable Informer and Observation: you completely missed my point. I was merely disputing the allegation by Observation that there are no longer fills, since I have seen many multiple officer congregations. Indeed, nearly all of the dozens of officer stops I have observed since officers began leaving SJPD have involved one or more fill units. In the majority, the fill officers have been standing around talking to each other, not visibly aiding the primary officer at the scene. My disagreement with you is not the fact that many calls require fill officers. I am as certain as you that fills are often necessary for the safety of the first responding officer. It is the allegation that there are “no fills on calls.”

      • John, your anecdotal snapshots and subsequent conclusions of a few of the 400,000 calls for service SJPD goes on yearly are irrelevant. Unless you have some incredible sense of hearing, you have no idea what the officers were discussing or how it related to the call. Do you even know what the call was the officers were on? Were they apprehending a multiple offender child molester, murder suspect, robbery suspect etc? You talk like you know so much that you can conclude there were too many officers, so please tell us exactly what kind of call it was and how you would have run the crime scene and investigation. Or, are you merely talking out of your ass, and have no idea? Oh, and Johnny, there are no fills on other calls when one high priority call for service ties up inordinate amounts of the few officers on a patrol shift, leaving the other high priority calls often unanswered. Stick to your day job of being a lawyer, because God knows how hard they all work.

  10. Jennifer, I like your choice for the photograph with this article. That picture depicts some of class 16. All of them were laid off on 7-1-11. Out of just the officers depicted in your photo only 2 still work for SJPD. Those that left work for San Leandro PD, San Francisco Pd, and Santa Cruz County Sheriff.

    • At least she didn’t post the usual picture of the 15 year old police car with the red and blue light bar! LOL

  11. I live in Willow Glen and go downtown for lunch a couple of days a week, drive through Almaden, and pass through Cambrian on the way to Campbell or Los Gatos….I saw seven units converged around one scrawny Mexican in the Oakridge Mall parking lot….”scrawny Mexican”, spoken like a true WILLOW GLEN CHARMER!!!!

  12. To understand today’s SJPD on the inside it is only necessary to examine what has been done to it from the outside.

    — Isolation: When Chuck Reed decided to scapegoat police officers (and firefighters) for the fiscal tsunami that struck this city when federal government incompetence (the sub-prime mortgage) combined with local government incompetence (traditionally investing on reelection over resilience), he created a huge and ugly divide between the police and public they serve.

    — Hostility: A campaign of vilification by the media (distorting pension figures, use of force incidents, even championing the unsubstantiated whines of a dubious police academy failure), aided by the organized efforts of our ever present local bottom-feeders.

    — Casualties: Unprecedented layoffs, economic departures, and early retirements — these, along with the life and death casualties that are part and parcel of the job.

    — Leadership Neglect: Years of reckless inaction and outright lies from city hall and the police chief’s office have prolonged dangerous and crippling understaffing. Larry Esquivel might as well be an ornamental plant in the main lobby for all the good he’s done the rank and file, while not-yet-ready Eddy has done little more than operate as a crash test dummy for Sam Liccardo’s asinine quick fix schemes (the A/C’s latest promise about former officers flocking back appears to be without merit, unless one counts the subtraction by addition return of his favorite weight room ‘roid-queen).

    The resilient men and women of SJPD* have found a way to cope with these conditions, a way that is as unfortunate as it was inevitable. They exist by way of a siege mentality, the natural response of an isolated group confronted with, and suffering at the hands of, hostile external forces. They operate in bunches when they can because they cannot depend on the level of help they were trained to expect; they have no faith in their leadership because their leaders do not lead; they view city hall as enemy territory because its denizens have acted as such; they’ve learned to expect no support from the community, no professionalism from the media, and no improvements in the future.

    *not intended to include the disability fakers who selfishly imperil the safety of their peers (another outrage to which the police administration has been indifferent)

  13. I’d like to offer a glimpse of this issue from the recruit perspective. Recruitment is not the issue here. What no one (so far) seems to understand or have any knowledge of is the fact that the hiring board routinely non-selects the vast majority of applicants that are presented to them. This is the final step of the hiring process as it has been explained to us, and to be clear, all applicants who make it to this step have passed an extremely thorough background investigation, a polygraph exam and a psychological evaluation, among other things. A non-select basically means “go away, we don’t want you.” For an agency that desperately needs “bodies” and consistently complains about the lack of a “quality applicant pool,” you guys sure are wasting a lot of time and money putting successful applicants through your hiring process only to send them packing. I find it ironic that SJPD complains about other agencies poaching recruits when they turn away a very significant percentage of applicants they have ALREADY processed- It is common knowledge that passing a SJ background investigation is no easy feat. You guys are making it very easy for surrounding agencies to pick up these same applicants, and very quickly due to the fact that they have already passed the background for San Jose. I made quite a few friends during the time I spent in the SJPD process. We keep in touch. Some of us work out together. We compare notes and trade stories of our experiences. Every single one of my acquaintances from the SJ process was non-selected. Most of the applicants who were offered academy spots either declined or left for other agencies during or immediately after academy graduation. The real question is, Who sits on this hiring board? A better question is, Who exactly are they looking for? We cant all be s–tbirds…

    • > The real question is, Who sits on this hiring board? A better question is, Who exactly are they looking for?

      Two very good questions.

      And a third question, what are the reasons for “non-selection”?

  14. “… passed an extremely thorough background investigation, a polygraph exam and a psychological evaluation, among other things. A non-select basically means “go away, we don’t want you.” — RC0351

    Civil Service rules govern the hiring process up to and including the conduct of the hiring board. It is simply not true that applicants considered by the board have passed anything, as the final decision as to who passed or failed the various components of the information gathering process is made by the presiding chief (a deputy chief or sometimes a captain acting in his/her place). It is at the hiring board that the chief weighs the input of the background investigator(s), considers the report of the polygraph examiner, and hears the opinion of the police psychologist.

    Not being selected for hire can mean many things, and an applicant who is honest with him/herself can often figure out the reasons behind the decision. In those cases where no reason exists it’s a good bet the problem is with the psych evaluation (which, for liability reasons, remains confidential).

    There is a lot of gray area involved in making a hiring decision, and applicants and police departments are best served when background investigations are conducted by active members of the department — investigators motivated to identify applicants they’d be willing to work with (as opposed to private investigators motivated only by money). No one is better equipped than an active member to identify the intangibles (good and bad) that can tip the scales of a hiring decision, and a chief who is confident of an investigator’s judgment is typically appreciative of, and often swayed by, the additional information.

    One last thing, not being selected does not make one a sh**bird… good people are inevitably missed, as are many who are just a bit shy of achievement, experience, or maturity. If you didn’t make the cut, trying to find out why may be the first step toward making it the next time.

    • So you’re saying that probably better than 90% of applicants who made it to the hiring board had something disqualifying in their background (ie. a psychological issue or some other factor that was identified a potential problem) and that the issue(s) wasn’t/were not brought to light until the applicant was presented to the board? Wow, your concepts are interesting. As far as outsourcing background investigations, from an applicant perspective (a severe disadvantage, mind you) I would have to say this is a moot point. It’s also interesting that you state that it’s not true that applicants presented to the hiring board have not passed anything. I passed the poly. The examiner told me I passed, then my BI called me and told me I passed. Had I not passed the poly, guess what? Yes. I’d have been standing at my mailbox reading a disqualification letter. Same goes for every other test.

      These gray areas you speak of are exactly what I’m talking about. Transparency is a one-way street in LE hiring processes. You can pass on any applicant and any time without any reason or explanation.

      My point is, stop complaining about not having any quality applicants when you send most of them packing.

      • So RCo351, what are the real reasons you think you were not hired if you were a qualified applicant who passed all the background process?

      • Mr. RCO351,

        Perhaps you are looking at this from the wrong perspective. “Non-select” is not necessarily the same thing as “unsuitable for hire”. I know of a case of a candidate who had an impeccable background and military service record, having served in the first Gulf war with distinction. He passed all the pre-employment testing in stellar fashion. The man’s credentials, character, and background were so impeccable that his background investigator was concerned that he might have missed something. To make a long story short, this man’s biography, military experience, and proven leadership ability would make an excellent book or movie, and that is no exaggeration. Was he hired? No. He was a “non-select”. Why?

        This candidate was placed #12 on the hiring list and due to budget constraints, the department was only able to hire 10 from that hiring list. The list subsequently expired and I don’t believe that he ever re-tested.

        Why was he placed #12 instead of #1 on the hiring list? To my understanding, the likeliest answer is as disgusting as it is common. The hiring boards run by certain deputy chiefs, whether they will admit it or not, were well known for giving (arbitrary and/or undeserved) extra points to candidates for language skills (somewhat understandable) and/or “racial diversity” (illegal but easily denied and nearly unprovable, unless they are foolish enough to admit it). Even if such a deputy chief was doltish enough to admit to bestowing “diversity points”, if the case were brought in front of a judge like Ladoris Cordell and presented to a group of jurors who still think O.J. is innocent, the member of the “oppressor class” who brought the lawsuit would likely still not prevail in any case.

        My advice to you is to keep trying. If after 3-4 attempts no agency will hire you, then I would assume there is something in your background or character of which you are unaware or won’t admit to yourself. Again, “non-select” does not necessarily mean “unsuitable for hire” and just because there are vacancies does not mean that the City will actually fund the positions right away, despite the political rhetoric.

      • RC0351,

        As others have posted further down here, there are a multitude of reasons why you may have not been selected. While I don’t work in backgrounds, I can tell you that from my personal experiences and stories from other officers I work with, the process can vary widely.

        What you may not know, and what they will never disclose to you is the results from the police psychologist, and patterns, discrepancies or omissions pertaining to your background packet. Let’s just say for example, a candidate has a habit of living slightly beyond their means.. Or better yet, mixed priorities – They have a car they’ve poured thousands of dollars into, a few expensive hobbies they regularly partake in, combined with student loans they’re paying the minimum on, multiple credit card bills with high revolving balances and they’re living at home rent free. Combine this with a couple minor traffic related infractions over the past few years, an average credit score, and a big ego… And do you see the issues there? – I’m not inferring that you even slightly resemble that example, but it’s commonplace in today’s society, and the candidate who mirrors that may not be a bad person to any degree, but they don’t quite display the level of maturity that an agency may be looking for.

        Again, you can be the archetype, but if your oral board score was poor and you have ten people in front of you with more life experience and maturity, you’ll get passed on. Pick yourself up, analyze the situation and try again.

  15. Yes, like the Statue of Liberty, bring me your criminal background , unstable GED grads. Bring me expunged 459’s and drug users with IQ’s of 95 and your 5” 0′ people who have to shoot first because they can’t physically defend themselves. Give me your drive uppers and shooters that Jeff “The Rosenator” acquits of manslaughter. 900 losers to go and their homicide deputies at the Sherriff’s Office can service the public. I love the S.O. and the Mexican kid guarding a marijuana farm with a pellet gun and when they “In Fear for their lives” shot him on the ground and in the arm pits and Rosen stamped it “Sold”. Keep going folks cause the Fed’s are coming for your Sheriff Twinkle Toes with poor hearing and no eyesight.

  16. RC0351,

    I said nothing about 90%, but your willingness to recklessly ascribe that figure to me to bolster your argument is telling (that said, I like a little piss and vinegar in a police applicant). If nine out of ten applicants are, in fact, being denied by the board, that would indicate huge problems in the background process (where considerable filtering is expected). Either the investigators don’t have a good idea what the board wants or they are intentionally sending obviously unqualified candidates to the board (in the case of outsourced backgrounds, to boost billing; in the case of in-house backgrounds, to bend to the counterproductive demands of supervisors). I have no doubt that political pressure from city hall has been experienced by everyone involved in hiring, and nothing screws up a well-functioning process like political pressure.

    Because I have no reason to believe SJPD is intentionally turning away good candidates I will assume that good reasons exist for every turndown; those good reasons — whether based on character, ability, or psychological suitability, always boiling down to one thing: unacceptable risk. Every step of a hiring process is about identifying and eliminating risk, and the final arbiter of that risk is the chief who presides over the hiring board. So you see, when you accuse the police department of sending quality applicants “packing” you accuse one or more of the department’s chiefs of intentionally undermining SJPD’s recovery.

    Look, I understand your frustration and admire your passion, but what you are faced with is a choice of two conclusions. The first, that SJPD has one or more renegade division chiefs; the second, that you lack the information necessary to reach a valid conclusion. Let me suggest that you try to find a way to choose the second, for if you can’t — if your raw suspicions are invulnerable to reason and probability, then law enforcement is not your calling.

    Among the factors about which you apparently lack information is the psychological exam, the results of which are, by design, kept separate from the background process (to avoid the contamination that can devalue both). These results play a major role in the chief’s decision-making process, with the negative, cautionary, and positive recommendations typically viewed in context with the rest of the background (here is another area where a trusted background investigator can wield considerable influence on a borderline case). A substantial percentage of applicants 25 and under who go unrecommended by the psychologist can, with a bit more life experience and personal growth, retest and win that recommendation in the future (this opportunity is really not there for those applicants old enough considered to be finished products).

    Another factor is the profession’s increasing disinclination to hire young men who are aggressive to a degree that once (before the campaign to neuter police departments) was considered desirable and necessary in a police officer. The destructive influence of race merchants and the media has reached deep into the command psyche of police departments, and we are all the worse for it. A single football field fistfight in one’s history is enough to convince a less-than-heroic chiefs to take a pass.

    You mentioned the polygraph examination, and that you knew before the hiring board met that you had passed it. Well, the reality is that your passing the polygraph means nothing if factual discrepancies are presented (e.g. conflicting accounts of your drug use) or the psychologist thinks you’re a psychopath. As I stated previously, there is no real passing until the chief makes his/her decision.

    I have no doubt that the average chief leaves the hiring board with considerable regret over not having had the justification necessary to take a risk on a handful of turndowns. These police professionals are by nature inclined to want to see the best in any young person who wants what he/she once wanted, and whenever possible they give the applicant the benefit of the very same doubt…

    that you should give them.

  17. OY! Perhaps SJI should just report the story and get rid of the comment section. Obviously all the same “experts” have shanghaied the comment section with their posting of moronic misinformed babblings on each and every story. Everyone has an opinion, but when you continue to post the same nonsense over and over, well, it’s pretty pathetic. Go out and get a breath of fresh air and enjoy life instead of hanging out in your mothers basement and posting nonsense on the Internet.

  18. This City used to be one of the safest cities to live in. That has all gone to hell in a hand basket. Pension reform, union-busting, and flushing out homeless encampments like the Jungle has made our neighborhoods unclean and unsafe. Police don’t even respond to burglaries. What is the point of having security cameras when police say they need to catch the culprit in the act? Filthy, mentally ill patients, violent or not, roam our streets. Downtown is disgusting, and attractions almost impossible to enjoy with the constant, aggressive panhandling. Forget playing in the parks. Police are called to deal with the homeless more often than not, for which they can do nothing. There is no one to protect the citizens, the taxpayers, the law-abiding residents of San Jose!

  19. John’s above commentary on “cops just standing around” is reflective of those that do not understand the dynamics of calls for service, especially those involving and imminent risk to life and capture of a violent suspect. The SJPD needs to do a better job of disseminating this information to the community. SJPD also needs to do a better job of letting the public know of the excellent police work that is done on a daily basis by hard working cops. SJPD, like other police departments, is good at releasing information of how their officers screwed up, but the good work is rarely highlighted. Other cities have websites where they release the great arrests and other departments have awards and recognition ceremonies to highlight good work and good cases. John is reflective of many who do not understand the dynamics and make a judgement based on simply driving by a situation. SJPD needs to do a better job of filling in the rest of the story.

    • Mr. Observation,

      The fact that your idea displays common sense has probably condemned it to obscurity. The City will undoubtedly have online “police complaint” websites (where people can, of course, post anonymously and multiple times without verification) long before the City sets up anything that would even remotely have the possibility for casting the police as anything other than , knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, bullies, racists and societal oppressors..

      So sir, in the future please refrain from raising my blood pressure and my level of rage and frustration and stop posting ideas that make sense or that would inhibit anyone from throwing their rhetorical and/or cyber rocks and garbage at the police. The police have made a fine political whipping-boy and scapegoat all these years so don’t rock the boat!

      Egads man! What’s the next stupid idea you’ll come up with?! Mandatory overtime for PAY for mandatory overtime worked !?! Now. you go sit in the corner and think about what you said.