After another small academy class, the City Council has proposed a staffing retention plan to prevent more officers from leaving a critically understaffed police force.
Under the “patrol staffing retention plan,” retirement-eligible officers can put their pension in a trust fund to work a few more years without paying into the retirement system. When the finally retire, they can claim their pension in full.
“Over the next several weeks, dozens of retirement-eligible officers will be making decisions about whether to retire in 2015,” reads the memo signed by Mayor Chuck Reed and council members Johnny Khamis and Sam Liccardo. “As those retirement decisions loom for more than 55 officers in their, early fifties, we need to timely communicate to this experienced, talented group that we intend to encourage them to continue serving on our force.”
Typically, San Jose Police Department officers reaching 25 years of service retire within a couple years of eligibility. But with the force down from 1,400-plus to 900 officers, the city can’t afford to lose anymore.
A paltry academy class of 29 cadets—half the size of what it's been historically—underscored the problem. Recent academies have about half of the cadets leave for other cities upon graduating.
If approved by the council Tuesday, the city will hold off on implementing the part of Measure B pension reforms that require employees to put an additional 4 percent contribution toward their retirement or take a 4 percent pay cut. It would also allow officers with more than 25 years of experience to stay in a paid position on the force, in the rank of officer or sergeant, while earning pension benefits in some form.
The police union, at odds with the city since voter-approved Measure B knocked down disability and pension benefits, criticized the plan.
“This is a smoke screen to take attention away from the Measure B problems, away from the police exodus problems,” Police Officers Association President Jim Unland told NBC Bay Area. “And it’s really a disingenuous effort at this point.”
More from the San Jose City Council agenda for Sept. 16, 2014:
- The city upgraded its reverse 9-1-1 system, which alerts daycares and primary schools of imminent danger via text or phone call. AlertSCC is a free service provided through the county.
- Federal rules require that 10 percent of businesses working with the airport must be owned by someone who’s socio-economically disadvantaged to level the playing field—that includes minorities or people with a net worth of less than $1.32 million.
- Three family members of a man gunned down by police will get $900,000 from the city to settle a wrongful death lawsuit. Cops burst into Valente Galindo’s apartment in 2011 after chasing a suspect, who tossed his gun into Galindo’s bedroom. An officer told him not to touch the gun, but said he picked it up anyway. His family disagrees with that account—they say he never touched the weapon.
- Customer calls could be quicker, more efficient if the city modernized its phone system, according to a new audit. Apparently, no one was even monitoring wait times, which averaged about eight minutes in recent months.
- Some $420,000 was allocated for the San Jose Downtown Association to promote downtown events and businesses. The bulk of it, $320,000 came from the parking fund, and the rest from the general fund to improvements to the downtown ice rink. The proposal comes with one-year options to continue the contract for $320,000 through 2019.
- About $12 million in federal housing grants helped the city house 211 chronically homeless people, provide case management to 2,000 homeless youth and battered spouses, offer literacy training for 1,782 students, offer hot meals and rides to 786 seniors, build 669 low-income apartments, fix up 411 low-income homes and help another 1,598 come up to code.
WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260