San Jose Grapples with Police Overtime, Officer Fatigue

San Jose’s police overtime costs have tripled in the past seven years to $36 million—10 percent of its law enforcement budget—as staffing vacancies reached all-time highs.

The officer exodus triggered by the Great Recession and goaded by voter-approved pension cuts in 2012 brought the number of street-ready officers down from 1,391 to 829. That’s a 20 percent drop from the 2008-09 fiscal year, according to a new audit up for review at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Source: City of San Jose

Source: City of San Jose

The drop in the number of sworn officers has brought the average overtime worked by San Jose cops from 225 hours in 2008 to 450 last year, according to the report by City Auditor Sharon Erickson. Police in Los Angles and San Francisco, by comparison, averaged about 100 overtime hours in 2015.

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Despite officers in San Jose picking up an average of an extra shift each week, the city still falls short of covering the workload left by the number of vacancies. As a stopgap, the city suspended union rules to assign more officers to patrol last month.

Those reassignments took a toll on the agency’s investigative abilities. Five years ago, for example, the city’s Bureau of Investigations had to drop 12 percent of all cases because of a lack of resources. This year, the number of cases left uninvestigated because of a lack of staffing rose to 27 percent.

In a report to the council, police Chief Eddie Garcia noted that resignations have slowed this year because of a proposed compromise making its way to the Nov. 8 ballot. Measure F, a settlement reached by the city and its unions, would reverse some of the retirement and healthcare cuts voters enacted four years ago.

If Measure F fails, Garcia predicts that his department’s staffing will continue to plummet. If it passes, he expects to see the trend reverse within the next year.

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Source: City of San Jose

“There are several impacts expected with the passing of Measure F,” Garcia wrote in a memo to the council. “These include, a better candidate pool in recruitment, current staff working past their eligible retirement date, fewer resignations and hiring a minimum of 45 recruits in each academy class moving forward.”

There’s a chance that Measure F’s success at the ballot could lure back officers who left. It would also make San Jose a competitive employer again, Garcia said, improving SJPD’s chances of recruiting from other agencies.

The police chief estimates that Measure F’s passage would help the city reach its authorized staffing level of 1,250 sworn officers by summer 2020.

In her report to the council this week, however, Erickson’s audit spelled out a number of recommendations to make the most of a depleted staff for the time being. She also cautioned about officer fatigue, urging the city to review and enforce weekly work limits for overtime and secondary employment. The weekly limit for all work, including side jobs, is 70 hours, and the daily limit is set at 16. But department policy exempts “mandatory overtime,” which leads to some inconsistencies.

“Our analysis showed that the amount of overtime worked by sworn police varies greatly,” Erickson said, urging a clear limit on work hours to prevent offers from over-exerting themselves.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for October 4. 2016:

  • San Jose will vote on a resolution in support of the Native American tribes trying to protect their treaty-ensured rights against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The proposed resolution also proclaims support for a local tribe, the Muwekma Ohlone, as they fight for federal recognition.
    Archaeological evidence indicates that the Muwekma Ohlone settled in this region as far back as 13,000 years ago. Yet the federal government has refused to consider the tribe’s application to become officially recognized as a sovereign indigenous nation.

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.

36 Comments

  1. > Yet the federal government has refused to consider the tribe’s application to become officially recognized as a sovereign indigenous nation.

    “and build a casino.”

    There. I fixed it.

  2. You know what bothered me a few weeks back seeing the “Safety Jungle” of SJPD officers’s in their campers and RV’s? These weren’t your run of the mill run down campers and RV’s, these were nearly new, late model ones. The cheapest one I could find on the lot was worth $30k, with some being worth up to $100k.

    This wasn’t a sign of overworked, underpaid officers to me. This is luxury. This is disposable income. Readers, how many of you have a $60,000 5th wheel trailer parked in your yard with a $60k truck to haul it? How many of your neighbors?

    • Why isn’t there 700 luxury RV’s parked in the “Safety Jungle”???? Especially with all that disposable luxury income your cops are making….You should go to all three briefings and see how many overpaid cops are being forced to work luxury overtime spots; or better yet turn on your scanner and see how many cops are requested to stay past their shifts to fill up minimum luxury staffing levels for the next shift…Im gonna share a secret with you….your city is saving money hand over fist by having the luxury overtime vs actually hiring/retaining officers…FACT

      • The stupid comments such as those by Mr Cortese never cease to amaze me. its comical how the news loves to show the 30 foot 1988 Motorhome that sits near the middle of the lot. I wonder what the value on that really is now. Just another foolish comment by an ungrateful public. I hope he actually votes no on F. Lets just let it all burn right? Cant wait to hear more rants from all the bad a** cubicle warriors that dont have a clue. Get a scanner and start listening to all the garbage that occurs everynight! You too Mr Galt they come with a light so you can listen while you hide under your covers in WG

    • Hey Robert, better to buy an RV when you cannot afford to buy a house or pay rent in the bay area. These officers live in the central valley and have to drive 3+ hours to come to work for you. And then have to work mandatory overtime, how much time does that give them to travel home and see their families. $60K for an RV home is better than paying rent here. Is this how you would want to live to serve this city? By the why most are check to check and burned out on forced overtime. Check out their sick time, most have to burn it just to get a day off. Go figure.

    • There, Robert. Consider yourself educated. Let this be a lesson to you. The politically correct position is the ONLY position. You must comply. Resistance is futile.

      • Thanks John. What blows my mind is the entitlement.

        Everyone else: Average base pay for a beat cop is $100k in SJ, this is before benefits and retirement. That is more than enough to support yourself, or if you have a working spouse to support a family. Maybe you won’t be buying $60k trailers and other toys with that money, but you choose the life you make.

        If you choose to move out of SJ for “Cheaper Acres” and commute here from the central valley, that’s your choice.

        As far as officers and OT, yup, those tier 1 retirement guys are LOVING IT Retirement is based on your best 3 years right? Get a nice monthly check of 90% of those fat OT years and go get a job in a cheaper county. If you’re REALLY lucky say, “I have back pain” and go out on disability.

        We all know how this works. but I’m happy to see you’ve all been hard at work practicing your keyboard kung fu to thwart us cubicle warriors.

        • Compensation is based on the final year, not the final three years, and overtime wages are excluded. You say, “We all know how this works,” when the truth is you don’t know jack sh**.

        • “Get a nice monthly check of 90% of those fat OT years and go get a job in a cheaper county”….Sorry, overtime is not pensionable in San Jose

          • Ya it is, or was. MGO did a whole report on it. It’s part of what prompted the city to pursue measure B.

            https://www.sjretirement.com/uploads/fed/item24aFedDec9.pdf

            If you scroll down to page 5, you’ll see an example of pre-adjustment, post adjustment for “Gross income applied to retirement contribution”

            I can see why you cops were so pissed about measure B. You have a retirement contribution based on OT/Vacation/Sick pegged at $50k, then knocked down to $29k. At least some of you (I’m guessing the ones with the biggest RV’s) are still on tier 1.

          • SJ Muni Code 3.36.020.3

            “Also, when the compensation of a member is a factor in any computation to be made under this chapter, there shall be excluded from such compensation any payments based on overtime put in by a member, any travel or uniform or expense allowance, any insurance or medical or surgical or hospital benefits, any worker’s compensation benefits…”

            The last time calculations were based on the final 36 months was in Sept. 1970, so I guess when you ran into those cops who were “so pissed” by the changes it must’ve been at the rest home.

        • Mr. RMC,

          If all these cops are overpaid, why can’t SJPD find cops to replace the massive numbers that are leaving? I mean, who wouldn’t want a cushy job where you get to deal with the very flowers of humanity; junkies perverts, rapists, violent mentally ill people, the drunk with tuberculosis who coughs in your face, the dope addict with hepatitis and bleeding, ulcerated sores on his arms and whose blood is now all over your hands, face and uniform because he chose to fight you rather than be arrested.

          You get to walk down dark alleys or underground parking garages at night, by yourself due to short staffing, because someone just reported hearing screaming and a gunshot somewhere near the fresh blood stain on the sidewalk.

          You get to go out on Christmas Eve to a cheap motel where some poor little mom and her two kids died trying to keep warm by curling up around an improperly vented gas heater.

          You get to deal with starved, bruised, and bleeding kids and their alcoholic parents who haven’t washed the kid’s clothes or cleaned the mold out of the refrigerator in months.

          You get pulled in without warning to work mandatory overtime at time and a half but you don’t get paid extra from working nights, weekends, holidays, in the rain, in the cold and on your kid’s first birthday or when you come in with 102 degree fever because with short staffing you dare not call in sick on New Year’s Eve.

          You get to take people to jail who were too drunk to remember what planet they were on at the time they were arrested but who have total recall months later when they complain that you were rude or used excessive force.

          So, Mr RMC, the next time some 3rd striker meth head with nothing to lose smashes out your windshield with a roofing hatchet then runs and hides in your neighbors backyard, how much can I pay you to go back there and get him? My guess is that cops are doing it for a lot less than you’d want.

          • You nailed it!!! If that doesn’t shut Mr. RMC up I don’t know what will. He talks out of his ass a lot.

    • Maybe, just maybe these officers borrowed a relative’s RV, or they mortgaged their home for the convenience of not having to drive 70-80 miles home after a mandatory 16 hour shift. Maybe they’re sharing the RV’s between officers on different shifts so those who don’t have resources can get some deserved rest. Maybe you should be thinking how absurd this situation is, given that it is a direct result of your previous mayor’s now failed pension debacle.

    • For the most part Robert, your posts make some sense. This one is pure nonsense. Did you really think about what you wrote before you wrote it? Who makes you the guardian of what a person can, or cannot, purchase? Your judgement on what people can or cannot own based on your personal yardstick shows your bias.

      These men and women WORK for that RV, and would much rather spend the time with their families vacationing in it…not in some parking lot in the cesspool that has become San Jose.

    • Of course, they probably have that RV ’cause they live in a 250k house in the central valley… Top step pay for an officer is only 105k a year, overtime may be increasing that quite a bit, but it’s not guaranteed income.

    • They work so much overtime they can now afford all of these luxury items. And is it really a luxury item if it is a necessity so they can sleep longer hours and not spend time with their family? Would you be happier if they were sleeping in tents? How about they don’t sleep at all?……….You’re a dumb ass….

    • So you don’t think they’re being overworked? At some point you must acknowledge that it doesn’t matter what the pay is , you are exhausted and just want to go home

  3. That’s because many of those people living “in luxury” cannot afford to own a house or condo. They have an automobile and a trailer. That’s it. That’s all. And that’s sad.

  4. Mr. Liccardo, Mr Chuck Reed, how’s that Measure B thing working out for you? Are you saving any money? Hmm, lets see, police overtime costs multiplied by (at least) 3, multiplied by the next 20 years: How’s that working out for you? Good work geniuses!

    Chief Garcia thinks he’s going to somehow “lure” cops back, with what, his impressive leadership? If the City wants to improve leadership, a good place to start would be by firing Garcia.

    (“As a stopgap, the city suspended union rules to assign more officers to patrol last month”)

    Hey, there’s another great idea, take away their bargaining power , suspend their work rules and Union protections. That will get cops flocking back here in droves.

    Prediction: Measure F will do :NOTHING! Don’t you mental dynamos get it? If you screw the cops once, if you lie to them, disrespect them and break or suspend your agreements with them, THEY WILL NEVER TRUST YOU AGAIN!!! …and law enforcement is a sort of closed community with a very long institutional memory. San Jose will be the law enforcement “leper colony” now for a LOOOONG time. The most SJPD might get is rookie officers who go through the Academy, work for SJPD for a year, then leave the second they get their basic POST certificate, taking all their training and experience and potential with them..Mr. Economic bubble blog guy, please spare us the job market economy lecture. It doesn’t apply here. We’ve had that discussion.

    Prediction for City Hall idiot solutions:

    “Binding agreements with academy recruits requiring them to commit to staying a certain time period after academy graduation”. WRONG! Never work.

    “Signing bonuses”, that the cop will have to pay back if he/she leaves before a certain time period”. WRONG dunces. That will never work.

    “More pay”. , WRONG idiots. you already destroyed their uniform allowance and cut their pay once and refused to make good on it later, as you promised (a 10% pay cut followed a couple years later by an 8% pay raise?).

    What might work? A complete repeal of Measure B; a return to binding arbitration to settle contract impasse; and a return of the same, pre-Reed, Tier 1 retirement benefits;, the City absolutely banned under penalty of flogging from ever touching, borrowing any money from the retirement system and from even looking at the financial statements without a Union attorney and another adult present; and a Charter Amendment locking this in stone.

    Otherwise, Fred Reed’s and Liccardo’s legacy? It won’t happen right away but gradually over less time than one might think, the only businesses downtown will be prostitutes, dope dealers, panhandlers and those few and short-lived mom-and-pops who haven’t got the word yet, bars on every window of every house and a junk yard dog on every porch and the sounds of yuppies’ screeching tires as they bounce over potholes heading out of San Jose (taking their property and sales taxes with them) before their BMW, Audi or Porsche gets stolen, broken into or vandalized for the 3rd time. I would mention that homeowners and auto insurance rates, already increasing, will go up even more but I’m not sure how high since I don’t know if the current rates will continue to rise and accelerate or flatten out.

    Go ahead City Hall apologists, Fred Reed and Sam Liccardo bootlickers and other cop haters, tell me I’m wrong, just like you did 4 years ago.

    Fred, Sam, how’s that Measure B working out for you? You saving anything? Undoubtedly Measure F should be combined with Measure U for one big Measure F-U.

    Fred, Sam, way to go geniuses.

    • FU?
      If I was having work done on my house and my contractor displayed the sort of hostile attitude that’s evident here I’d shop around for a different contractor. No way I’d want this guy anywhere near my house. Fortunately the free market still exists in the private sector and I’d have a choice. I’m not forced to do business with that surly, disgruntled contractor.
      But the situation is way different here. SJPOA is all we’ve got. They have no competition. We citizens don’t have the option of shopping around. SJPOA (and every other public employee union) has us over a barrel and they know it. I have no reason to suspect that Mr. Robillard’s attitude is not representative of his peers. Given his crowing about the “long institutional memory” of this “closed community” I’d be extremely reluctant to spend money in an effort to appease what appears to be a very petulant and vindictive organization. Measure B is looking better every day.

      • Now THAT is an ironic rant. They have shopped for a different contractor (YOU being the contractor), and have left for better working conditions, and refused to serve those who belittle an demonize them. If you dont like the SJPOA, they are all serving line officers. Not “Union Thugs”, labelled by insecure haters like you. Look in the mirror pal, YOU are the customer that treats the contractor, trying to repair your crappy house, like dirt. They have the choice to walk away….they have….you get the results. Tough luck. Live with it…you voted for it.

      • Mr. Galt,

        If you treat a surly contractor the way City Hall and the voters they duped have treated their police officers, you wouldn’t have to fire the contractor, he would quit on his own and go work on someone else’s house. Soon, word would get out that you don’t honor you construction agreements and are not a customer that any contractor would want to do work for then before long, the next time your roof leaks, there won’t be anyone there to fix it or you will have to wait a week to finally get a contractor there on overtime to patch the hole in your roof by using only duct tape because he doesn’t have the time, resources or help to do any more than that. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain.

        Measure B; followed by Measure F followed by Measure F-U, this is what our City father’s have decided will be the progression of events. Measure F-U is a reflection of City Hall’s attitude towards its police officers not the police officers toward the people they serve.

    • Yep Reed and his ass kissing pal Pete Constant thought they were pretty clever in thinking up the Measure B fiasco. Clever enough that city voters bought into it. What goes around comes around! Now everybody is screwed equally. The authors/culprits of this debacle have now moved on and reside elsewhere.

      • Pete Constant was so angry with the police department because, command staff at that time held up his bogus trumped up disability retirement which almost bankrupted him. They all knew he hurt his back taking a picture and falling off a ladder and not doing police work. That’s why it was denied and took years to settle. Part of his settlement was that the city pay for his college degree. He returned to college to finish his degree. From there he ran his campaign for city council. He told two of us once elected, that he was now going to finally get back at the police department for boning his disability retirement case.

    • 600 less cops at $180,000 a year total comp. That equals a total savings of about $108 million per year in realized savings. So overtime is skyrocketing to the tune of about $35 million per year. The city still is saving a whopping $73 million. So overtime is the way to go. Cheaper than hiring more cops.

      • Mr. Trutherism,

        How short sighted and ignorant (lack of knowledge or understanding; not an insult) you are. All these savings you assume and project could easily be wiped out by 1 or 2 major lawsuits and exhausted, sleep deprived, drowsy cops, who have been working 12 to sometimes even 17 hour shifts for 4, 5 or sometimes 6 or 7 days a week is not just a disastrous lawsuit(s) waiting to happen, it is sheer lunacy.

        Aside from falling asleep at the wheel and becoming involved in a serious or fatal traffic collision, drowsiness is not even the most dangerous problem with sleep deprivation and exhaustion. One of the first effects of sleep deprivation is a loss of “impulse resistance” and “cognitive function”. Exhausted, drowsy cops tend to make bad decisions and may tend to overact when the impulse to take action presents itself. There was one theory that the Viet Nam era “Mi Lai massacre” may have started when an exhausted soldier thought he saw a villager reaching for a weapon in a haystack. When that soldier started firing, all the others with him, thinking they were under attack, started firing as well, with disastrous results.

        I don’t know if you have ever been so exhausted, so tired and so sleep deprived that you actually started to see things that weren’t actually the things or actions you thought you were seeing but I have. Some people in the military and some cops have told me that they have experienced the same thing.

        This situation is a catastrophe waiting to happen. There are better ways to save money and one massive lawsuit as a result of the City ignoring a reasonably foreseeable consequence of pushing public safety workers to the brink of human endurance, would likely be an easy victory for any plaintiff’s attorney and damages could be astronomical.

        Then again, isn’t former mayor Reed a lawyer? Maybe he is just waiting for the opportunity for disaster to strike so he can sue himself over his own negligent policy, have the city indemnify his losses and award himself his own attorney’s fee. Wait, that makes no sense. Sorry, I’m just really tired.

  5. And the actual number of officers is much below 800, with many more due to retire in December and January, as well as many officers who have received offers from other departments and will be leaving SJPD in the next couple months.

  6. What’s going to happen when the next big Alviso flood or other big natural disaster hits? Who is going to respond to a Ferguson or Baltimore style riot when there aren’t even enough cops to handle the normal day to day calls for service?

    Mr. RMO, can you give the 911 call center your cell phone number so all those greedy, entitlement grasping cops living in luxury in the police parking lot can call you for help? I’m sure they’ll pay you an undeserved, exorbitant salary but you can’t go home until someone says you can go and you won’t know when that will be; Maybe 17 hours after your shift started?

    Those “luxury” RV’s have bunk beds and an officer I know who is sharing one of those “luxury” bunks was also in the Navy and he said he had a bigger bunk and living space when he served on a submarine!

    Mr. RMO, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and not insult your intelligence by pretending that you were serious about anything you said here.

  7. All credibility went out the window when he stated that its a fact that retirement is based on overtime as well as base compensation. Im gonna give him a pass as he may have been either on a drinking binge or off his meds when he wrote that. When Sam Liccardo says things are F’d up then something is wrong here. Wait a minute! Pete Constant is that you?
    It all makes sense now

  8. The Safety Jungle? Yet there is no place for homeless citizens to park RVS even temporarily in San Jose. The SJPD are the ones citing them or pushing them along. There is ano entire City Hall full of employees making below median income, can they park their RVS there too?

  9. I’m going to vote NO on Measure F in November for one reason, and that is the failure of the mayor and the police chief to deal honestly and directly with the rent-a-mob following a June political rally, allowing the rent-a-mob to threaten, intimidate, and harass persons leaving the rally.

    Political speech lies at the very heart of our constitutional freedom of speech (not all speech, for example commercial speech, is equally protected). That is, our federally determined right to sidewalks, streets, and parking structures are guaranteed by the US Constitution. This right has been recognized by judges, juries, and police departments since the infamous bullying and intimidation by Officer Bull Connor in the late Sixties who literally hosed down persons who sought to walk in the city for which he was a law enforcement official. There is no legal difference between what Bull Connor did actively and what the mayor and the police chief allowed to happen passively.

    In addition, the city establishment, the mayor notably, cast the blame for the SJPD on the speaker that night…that is, both the mayor and the police chief signed on to Secretary Clinton’s campaign as sponsors using their powers to fail to act, and to interpret the event in support of Clinton.

    Approving Measure F would mean approving the misguided, deceptive, and illegal events of June 2016.