Did San Jose Police Union Prez Encourage Cadets to Leave?

With Election Day closing in, San Jose’s political battles are whipping into a fever pitch. People are tightly wound, negative campaign mailers are rampant and the fight between pension reform proponents and the police union has come to a head.

Late last week, the Mercury News published an op-ed from a former police cadet who washed out of the academy, touching off an intense debate. The piece by Elyse Rivas says Jim Unland, president of the Police Officers Association, encouraged the class of 29 cadets during an orientation to drop out or leave the department, in part because it hurt the unions' fight against Mayor Chuck Reed's pension reforms.

“In no uncertain terms, he blamed Measure B for the departure of hundreds of officers—and he told us that it would be better for the department and for us if we would just quit, right then and there,” Rivas wrote. “He said that our employment did not help the POA’s cause in proving that Measure B was killing the department’s recruitment capabilities. He urged us to find jobs elsewhere. He told us all this as if he were doing us a favor.”

Unland firmly denied the charge on Monday. He says he never used the word "quit" in his talk with cadets. “To be clear, I never said that or anything like that,” he wrote in a blog post on the union's website.

In a follow-up article, Rivas admitted she doesn’t recall him using that exact term "quit," but the intent was the same.

San Jose Inside's attempts to reach Unland for comment were unsuccessful.

In his online post, Unland included statements from officers who countered Rivas’ claims. Two officers and the union's office manager, who says she has been present during all of Unland's presentations to cadets, claimed that the union president never told recruits to quit during that orientation. Another officer, Pat Comerford, says he spent "at least seven" extra hours trying to train Rivas to handle firearms safely. She failed the academy because she couldn’t master firearm safety—not because instructors didn’t try hard enough to train her, Comerford wrote.

Unland blamed the Merc’s support of Councilman Sam Liccardo instead of the union's chosen candidate, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, for “stooping so low as to print the ranting of a self-professed liar.”

The attention given to Rivas’ op-ed has not focused on her firearm proficiency, but her claim that Unland allegedly encouraged cadets to leave the force while in a department setting. If he were talking to cadets off the clock, away from the department and in his capacity as a union rep, he would be well within his rights to inform them what he feels is best for their future. It’s an important difference.

If cadets are in a work setting and a superior tells them they would be better off leaving, that would be completely inappropriate, according to Mayor Reed.

In past issues of the union's newsletter, Unland has explicitly told officers to find work at other agencies. The POA hosted a job fair last year, allowing other law enforcement agencies to come and recruit San Jose officers.

Just last November, Unland told San Jose Inside that the union was helping recruits find work elsewhere to take advantage of better benefits.

"Until three years ago, we’ve always been happily taking people trained in other cities,” Unland said at the time. “Now that it happens to us, the city says, ‘How dare these people?’”

The union has pointed to wage cuts and Measure B pension reforms, especially a change in disability requirements, as the reasons they have helped facilitate the shrinking of the department's ranks from 1,400 officers to fewer than 900.

Mayor Reed told the Merc that the city will investigate what exactly was said during that orientation.

Meanwhile, a new poll commissioned by the Merc has Cortese, who has also blamed pension reforms for the officer exodus, holding a lead over his opponent. The survey  found 34 percent of respondents supported Cortese and 26 percent Liccardo. But a substantial amount of voters—40 percent—say they're still undecided.


  1. If the San Jose Police Officer’s Association (SJPOA) is truly trying to encourage recruits to leave the police academy please explain why the latest SJ police academy had six no shows. Five of the no shows accepted police employment elsewhere. This means they started their hiring process months before the SJPOA even had a chance to talk to them.

  2. It is truly Pathetic that “San Jose Inside ” has become exactly like the Merc. Nothing but half truths, exagerations and flat out lies. as far as Reed goes , what would the most pathetic Mayor in San Jose History know of ” what is appropriate”. was it appropriate for Reed to steal monies and then refund it before it got leaked? was it appropriate for Reed to flat out lie about the $650Million dollar pension debt , when it actually is closer to $240 Million , was it appropriate for Reed to donate funds to the Hererra Campaign? Does anybody see a pattern here?
    San Jose USED to routinely steal Public Safety from other City’s/Agency’s . BUT , Now its problem that other City’s are doing it to San Jose ? The reality is simple if San Jose salaries/ benefits were in anyway ,shape , or form comparable to other Cities , they would not be leaving. As POA president it is well within Unland’s rights to adise candidates of their options . it is an individual choice for each candidate to make.
    Elyse Rivas has proven to the City that she is definitely NOT cut out to be a Police Officer. she could could have resigned and regrouped and tried again . she could have sought out more and better training with the firearms. Instead she gave up and bad mouths the very people she was trying to work along side. AND now is starting to change her version of what was said . She might not be a liar , but she is definitely a disgruntled ex employee

    • Unland isn’t cut out to be head of SJPOA and you know it! The guy is a clown – I know many in SJPOA more suited for that position than he.

        • Jim Gonzales and Ed Chan are two that comes to mind. Just because Unland served as VP previously doesnt mean he shpuld be rubber stamped to lead SJPOA during this turbulent time….this isnt North Korea

      • It doesn’t matter what you think. What matters is the members of the SJPOA feel he is cut out to be president and voted him into office.

        • Anthony and Michael, Steve asked and I answered. If you pray to the God that is Jim Unland that’s up to you…..but he is not up to the task and only got the top job because he served as VP previously and that is the way its always been done. There are people that make good VPs that make awful presidents. He is just not presidential material.

          • You can use the same argument with Measure B that was passed by 70% of those that voted doesn’t mean it was good legislation. Look at the results and the division it has created not only among city employees but community as a whole. Reside ts are paying more for homeowners and auto insurance because of increases in burglaries and auto thefts. People don’t feel safe anymore.

            If you continue to worship the gods (Reed and Liccardo) who brought us the piece of garbage legislation it will only get worse. I for one care about San Jose and where it is headed. I suspect, based on your postings that 1) you are not a resident and couldn’t care less 2) A staffer for Liccardo or 3) Simply a troll that enjoys angering others for some sadistic self gratification.

          • You are making my point Michael, you nor anyone in SJPOA has a kind word to say about Unland….he was simply the next guy and he simply isnt up to the task of being president. I am sure he was a good VP, but those two jobs don’t match. It is time to move on from his “leadership”.

            Please, make a case for Unland being the best possible leader for SJPOA at this time.

          • I’m not really sure why I’m responding to SJC, who seems more crackpot troll than legitimate commenter, but as a POA member I aboslutely do have many kind words to say about Jim Unland. I’m very grateful to Jim and POA Vice President John Robb for the unbelievable amount of time they’ve put in over the last few years fighting for the rights of everyone else. They’ve perservered against long odds and in the face of a system bent on denying and distorting the truth. Regardless of how this turns out, they’ve fought the good fight and given their all. Thank you very much, Jim and John.

          • You can call me a troll all you want, but even John Robb could do a better job than Unland. It seems to me that you drank the Kool Aid that convinces you he is only one suitable to lead SJPOA and everyone who opposes Unland is a troll. Your inability to acknowledge reality is what makes you a sheep.

            SJPOA used to be a venerable organization until you and other members rubber-stamp “leadership……..not every vice president makes a good president. As awful a vice president Dan Quayle was, he wouldve made an even worse PRESIDENT.

      • Makes no difference to me who is “The Head” he is just the one that happens to be the guy at the moment. The fight has to be fought , and it can only be won if the membership stands together

  3. “The attention given to Rivas’ op-ed has not focused on her firearm proficiency, but her claim that Unland allegedly encouraged cadets to leave the force while in a department setting.” Well, the attention given to Rivas’ op-ed ought to focus on her firearm proficiency, because the details about it undermine her credibility entirely.

    Rivas has already gone back on her claim that Unland told recruits to quit, so she’s already admitted to being less than truthful, but in the piece she also alleged that she had been forced to leave the academy because of problems with firearm safety and that no one had provided her with any extra help to correct the the problem. The exact nature of her problems are telling.

    As part of Unland’s response to Rivas, he included an email from Patrick Comerford, who is the academy’s lead firearms trainer. In the email, Comerford explained that Rivas had been removed from the academy because, on repeated occasions, she had unthinkingly pointed a loaded gun at herself, classmates, and an instructor. This is one of the basic and vitally important rules of firearm safety. To violate it on repeated occasions is simply bizarre and says something about who Rivas is…someone with issues. Each academy includes many individuals who, like Rivas, have never handled a firearm before being hired. Repeated and dangerous mistakes like those made by Rivas practically never happen.

    Rivas is someone with her own problems and axe to grind. She was used here as a pawn, first by the MN and now by SJI, because they are in panic mode about about Liccardo’s chances. They are both very worried that all the months of trying to bend and shape the truth will have been a waste of time. Vote Cortese.

      • Nothing to see here. ..the candidates aren’t taking a bold stance on changing POA leadership…that has been in the works for over a month now..ever since nominations were accepted for President VP and BOD positions.not only that but it has been common knowledge that Unland and Robb will be retiring in early 2015. Change is happening anyway.

  4. Well, if Unland or anyone else collaborated in activities to undermine staffing or morale at the SJPD, I would consider that a premeditated conspiracy to obstruct justice.

    Where’s the grand jury?

    Were women or minorities adversely affected? I would consider that a potential denial of civil rights.

    Where’s the Federal Justice Department?

    • The depth of your legal knowledge is really impressive. You must’ve gone to Harvard with Liccardo.

    • If anyone “collaborated in activities to undermine staffing or morale at the SJPD,” that would be Mayor Reed, and most of the council. Perhaps they should be charged with “premeditated conspiracy to obstruct justice.”

    • “IF” Rivas had and ax to grind. She has only failed the police academy once, she failed the BAR twice. Read her article. http://calweasel.com/node/204

      HER article starts

      Elyse Rivas, Esq.

      “I was a two-time bar loser, and totally defeated. I thought that there was nothing I could do to help me pass the Bar. I even thought that I might have a learning disability because no matter how hard I tried, I could not maintain all the information that the CA Bar expects their applicants to memorize and apply.”

    • Didn’t Reed and Liccardo collaborate in activities to undermine staffing AND morale lol trying to shift the blame is so REEDESQUE….what a loser!!

  5. “If cadets are in a work setting and a superior tells them they would be better off leaving, that would be completely inappropriate, according to Mayor Reed”.

    This is the same guy that said the Firefighters and Police Officers are “Riding the Gravy Train” and are a “Cancer” to the City of San Jose? Where is HIS muzzle? This guy needs to clam up, or allow the same latitude for dissent that he takes to attack.

  6. I would like to hear corraboration from the other police candidates in her class… so far, hers is the only story, and she even negated the strongest accusation that they were told to “quit”.

    • Don’t expect anyone in that class to step in this too. Anyone that can’t see that is too dumb to be a cop.

      This is a total no-win situation.

  7. So…this person “washed out” of the academy? Sounds like somebody’s out for a little revenge. Why has only one person made these accusations? I’m sure that she isn’t the only one who didn’t make it.

  8. The most egregious issue here is that Elyse Rivas made numerous outrageous claims regarding a department which she technically NEVER WORKED FOR!

    For those who have never been a recruit in a police academy, it may be difficult to understand, but you are simply a detached trainee until you successfully graduate the academy and enter the field training program. You are in no way “rubbing shoulders” with actual officers at while in the academy so it is absolutely ludicrous for Rivas to say, “The feeling [she] got when [she] was there was that the rank-and-file officers are not invested in building a bigger and better police force for San Jose.” Elyse, how many actual beat cops did you ever have a more than 2-3 minute, candid conversation with?

    The reality is Elyse’s “insider perspective” of the SJPD was extremely limited and sheltered for reasons just as this, when people don’t cut it (and they are devoid of accountability) they often have resentment and disseminate confidential information and engage in slander.

    I can tell you, from personal experience, when recruits are struggling with firearms related performance, they are likely to receive more remedial training than any other area of instruction. This is due to the fact that firearms are DANGEROUS and absolutely no one wants to see any accidents due to carelessness or absent mindedness.

    Recruits receive roughly 19 weeks of firearms instruction at about 4 hours a week and 3 weeks of proficiency testing at 4hr/each. Contrast this with Emergency Vehicle Operation.. 3-4 sessions at 8 hours each, and each session culminates with multiple proficiency tests, each of which are allotted 2 chances to pass. Elyse needs to be accountable for her own shortcomings.

    • Here is an Article written by Rivas after failing the BAR for the second time. “Two time loser” as she calls herself. She’s only a one time police academy loser so far.


      Elyse Rivas, Esq.
      “I was a two-time bar loser, and totally defeated. I thought that there was nothing I could do to help me pass the Bar. I even thought that I might have a learning disability because no matter how hard I tried, I could not maintain all the information that the CA Bar expects their applicants to memorize and apply.”

      Why are people assuming Rivas is being truthful? Why didn’t the Mercury news take a minute to contact one or two of other 28 recruits in the room to verify her VERY serious claim??? This is written by a scorned recruit who couldn’t pass ALL phases of the academy. Fail one componet and you get ONE remedial. Fail again your out, cut and dry. I was in an academy class of 60 back in 1990. Less than 43 of us graduated. That is a 28% fail rate. Her academy 27% fail rate. The department cannot just stick unqualified people in a situation that can get themselves or people they are sworn to protect hurt or killed.
      One recruit was terminated in my academy because his poor parking abilities. He had remedial training but failed again. You can hit one to many cones and and was gone. I think gun safety might be just a little more scrutinized than parking ability? The range master, Pat Comford, at the academy did in fact give her 7+ extra hours of training.
      Lets have ALL the facts here not just the biased individual whom couldn’t pass the BAR her first two attempts (would you want an attorney representing you or family members in a life altering case with those credentials?
      If she had problems with weapon safety in a non stress situation such as the academy police range (where no one is firing back), can you imagine in a life or death situation. What if a citizen life hung in the balance and she’s trying to figure out what end of the gun to hold?
      I apologize now for what I am sure my many grammatical errors and poor writing (I did have remedial report writing, but I passed :))

  9. I read her op-ed. What does her gender and race have to do with anything? If she is such a gem, why hasn’t she been picked up by another agency? I’m calling BS.

    • What Unland has said is that with the newly hired recruits coming into a situation where they are part of the worst police retirement system in the state, and with all officers receiving less disability protection than officers anywhere else, everyone has to seriously consider whether they can afford to remain with SJPD for the long term. I would say the same thing to anyone who asked. It’s the truth. If Unland did anything other than provide officers with an honest assessment of where they stand, he wouldn’t be doing his job as association president. Is that really very hard to understand?

    • Phil,

      Jim has been very clear with all of the new recruits in Tier 2 that they are entering into an agreement to work under the worst disability protections in the state and some of the worst pension benefits as well. To not be clear with them would be a huge disservice to not only the individuals but their families as well.

      Go find me 10 cops over age 55.. Hell make it 50.. and I am confident you will not find more than 2 who have not experienced some sort of police work related injury at some point in their career.

      Knowing this, as Jim does, would you feel good about telling an extremely eager group of people average age 26, many of whom have nearly achieved their career dreams, that they will have to work for the next 34+ years in order to retire and that if they get injured they may not be eligible for a disability pension? And then explain to them that they may in fact be fired if no other jobs exist in the city which they can technically perform? AND.. that they will almost certainly take a pay cut and lose all of their tenure when they are basically forced to take that other job? ..Not to mention they could be laid off or terminated if that job category is cut or they don’t pan out? I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night..

  10. > The piece by Elyse Rivas says Jim Unland, president of the Police Officers Association, encouraged the class of 29 cadets during an orientation to drop out or leave the department, in part because it hurt the unions’ fight against Mayor Chuck Reed’s pension reforms.

    Sounds to me like “war against women”.

    I suspect that Unland and/or the SJPOA may not like having too many strong, assertive women around.

    Where’s the civil rights investigation?

    • typical Teabagger spin hahaha is anyone really buying what you all are selling anymore, Tebagging was only a fad and you all are stuck in neutral!!

    • Other women cops have come forward and state that is not true. There are a lot of women cops but not everyone (men and women) passes the academy on the first try. A person of integrity wouldn’t have tried to blame her failures on others, took some additional firearm lessons on her own time, and come back and try again. Many say that they did not pass the first time. This isn’t kindergarten and everyone gets a gold star.

    • SJoutsidethe bubble.. SJPOA is all cops.. And there are ton of strong, assertive women around. She is not one of them. She apparently complained the whole time she was there. Her fellow recruits were glad to see her go as she was the bad apple. As others said she could have reapplied. But instead now she look like a cry baby.

      • I think MANY in SJPOA would be glad to see Unland go. Just because he was the next guy in line to be president…….doesn’t mean he should have been president. For the good of SJPOA he should have stepped down a while ago – the guy has become a caricature.

        • Well the majority of voting members of the POA disagree with you. After all they are the ones walking the walk while you just sit back and talk the talk.

          • Voting members? HA! He was acclimated simply for being the next guy. By your rationale, I am thinking you also believe the World’s worst dictators were also selected by the voting members of their respective countries. He is simply in over his head as the President of SJPOA. Doesn’t mean I don’t think he is a good person…he just isn’t a good leader.

  11. Who cares if the POA has held job fairs? If San Jose was such a great place to work, all the job fairs in the world wouldn’t make officers leave for other departments. They are leaving because they have been treated like crap, have been made the scape goat by Reed and Licarrdo for the cities financial issues, and they can go anywhere else nearby and be paid more and treated better. The POA is doing their job. Looking out for their members. The city is not broke. Not even close. It’s a myth perpetrated by mayor Greed and his boy Sam to fool voters into passing their agenda. I pity San Jose residents if Slick Sam wins. It will be a sad day if it comes to pass.

  12. The the opinion/article written by Elyse Rivas turns out to be false, and it look like it’s turning out that way, she should be disbarred like Stephen Glass before her. I would hope that those affected would file a complaint with the California State Bar.

  13. > The the opinion/article written by Elyse Rivas turns out to be false, and it look like it’s turning out that way, she should be disbarred like Stephen Glass before her.

    1. Who declared the article to be false and where was this declaration made?
    2. If you are asserting that Rivas should be disbarred, does that mean she was an attorney?
    3. If an attorney is not qualified for the police academy, does that mean the police academy qualifications are too high?
    4. If the police academy qualifications are too high, could that explain why the academy class is not full?

  14. 1. I said if the story turns out to be false. Here is a link to statements made by others who were there that contradict her statements.


    2. Elyse Rivas is an attorney:


    And her crying and whining continued into that profession:


    3. There are many officers who are also attorneys.  Some stayed with police work others went on to start their own practice. So this argument of yours falls flat.

    4. Academy’s are not full because of measures v, w and the grandaddy of them all measure b. Prior to the passage of these measures applicants were knocking down the doors to be a San Jose Police Officer. This would include officer lateral transfers from other agencies. Now you have less applicants and from that pool you have very few qualified. The most telling part is that there are zero, zip, nada lateral transfer applicants from other agencies wanting to work for SJPD.

    • > 1. I said if the story turns out to be false. Here is a link to statements made by others who were there that contradict her statements.

      If you are a cop, you have a darn scary notion of what is “true” and what is “false”.

      Something is not necessarily “false” just because you can find a partisan to agree with you.

      I am never going to sit on a jury if there is a SJPOA member involved in the case. I’ll tell the judge I just can’t believe any of you guys.

      • SJOTB,

        With all due respect i again emphasize my words if the story turns out to be false. Which means I am open to change my mind. Based on your writings you are unable to see the truth regardless of what it may or may not be. Your hatred for public safety, regardless of the truth burns, with the fierce intensity of a thousand burning suns. I would not want you on a jury as you will have made up your mind before hearing any facts. At this point I see you as a pathetic internet troll that looks only to fuel anger in others instead of offering meaningful dialogue.

        BTW….in a press release the witnesses countering Elyse Rivas’ claims (claims she is now backing off of) are have signed statements under oath that their versions of the events are true. This does a number of things. It puts their jobs/livelihood in jeopardy should their statements be false, places them on a “Brady List” if their statements prove to be false thus rendering them ineffective as witnesses. I will leave it to you to look up what a Brady List is.

        I would ask you this…

        Why has Elyse Rivas not swear to the truthfulness of her statements under oath?

        ho paid for the “Special to the Mercury” that Rivas authored? Someone pays for those to be published.

        If you are willing to have an open and honest discussion I am willing to participate. If not, it is no longer worth the energy to respond to a troll.

        BTW you see my real name. I do not need to hide behind a alias. Remember…”The truth is its own defense”

  15. Those of you confronting the enormous expense of higher education believing that college imbues students with intelligence might want to consider the case of Elyse Rivas, a young woman who proves the old adage, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” Despite her education Ms. Rivas remains what she no doubt was at age 12, a hopeless dupe being fed into a cultural machine that consumes dupes by the millions. Conned into mistaking her modest ability to memorize and regurgitate as evidence of intellectual prowess, Ms. Rivas paid no mind to her natural aptitude and went off to achieve the new American dream: to fail at the highest levels possible.

    The Mercury News is just the latest in a series of pimps to use her for its own purposes. How far down below defensible did her law school lower its standards so that it might open its doors to the diverse and mediocre? How low did the Public Defender’s Office prioritize its client’s welfare when it hired a lawyer so dense as to not understand the significance of quotation marks? How many times and in how many ways did the police department rework its hiring standards before it could justify hiring someone lacking the mental composure and situational awareness required to safely handle a pistol (a skill routinely mastered by children)?

    That Ms. Rivas had no corroborating evidence for her allegations didn’t give pause to the Mercury editorial staff for one reason: they don’t care about her. Eric Kurhi, the reporter who authored the follow-up piece, included a pejorative but irrelevant quote about Jim Unland from Robert Gallardo, without identifying Gallardo’s connection to both a rival professional organization and to Jose Salcido, Mayor Reed’s public safety stooge. Kurhi committed this journalistic offense because he put politics above his profession, the very act for which Jim Unland has been recklessly accused.

    Clearly the Mercury News, in what I hope proves to be a dying effort to remain relevant and financially afloat, has given up on journalism and taken up the role of political kingmaker. Its success in destroying Dolores Carr and replacing her with a candidate of its own invention did not go unnoticed in political circles; the newspaper that was once in the business of delivering the news is now in the business of amassing political power — the public be damned. Barbara Marshman, the editorial editor and disgraced political operative, is as corrupt and unprofessional a journalist as Al Sharpton is a minister of the bible. These people are America’s enemies.

  16. Folks, this faux-story is an effort to get out the vote. The more you express outrage, the more it becomes a real story, and the more it accomplishes the objective — which is to get public attention. Just sayin.

  17. Unland has called Rivas a “self-professed liar” because after her piece appeared, she can’t say for certain that he used the word “quit.”

    Does her piece hinge on the use of that word?

    If she were a liar, would she admit she’s not sure he used that particular word?

    I think Rivas makes a convincing case that if pension reform politics weren’t at play, she, a well educated former college athlete, would not have been cut from the academy.

    That belief, though, is probably influenced by a prior assessment of POA leadership.

    Even Cortese is now calling for Unland to step down.

    • Yep, this makes me wonder if the Reed/Liccardo team are also behind the Elyse Rivas fiasco. Since Reed’s aide tried to bribe Mr. Ettinger, who knows who else they have contacted. It’s no secret they’ve been trying to blame Unland for the exodus of cops as if Measure B had nothing to do it.

      • If that is the case, I would hope that Elyse would come forward to let everyone know the truth about what happened before it all comes out in the open and she is caught up in the mess any more than she would be.

    • First of all, consider the source. The Left Hook is not a news source but rather a PAC.

      Next, read the document. There is nothing in the sworn statement that implicates anybody doing anything wrong.

      The statement was notorized with a lot of fanfare. When Damien Trujillo showed up from NBC Ch. 11, he should have read the document. He should have then looked into the camera and said that though serious allegations are being made against Mayor Reed, there is nothing in the sworn statement that support those allegations. Nothing. Zero. Zip.

      I think if Ch. 11 had been givien the document before the news conference, they wouldn’t have even showed up.

      This isn’t news. It’s a stunt.

      Look who the notary is. She belongs to the POA and has rabidly attacked Rivas’s credibility.

      The POA stunt worked. They got some news coverage–without there being any news.

      • Phony…..just confirming what everyone has known all along, REED is a snake and so is Liccardo by association!! These guys are toast come Nov. 4th!! lol let me guess….they are going to sue hahahahaha

    • Guaranteed the Mercury will not report on either of the stories I posted.
      Call the Mayor at 535-3500 and let him know that we all need a safer San Jose.

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