San Jose Expected to Declare Police Staffing ‘Emergency’

To address a critical police staffing shortage, San Jose is expected to suspend union protections to reassign dozens of detectives back to patrol.

The City Council on Tuesday will vote on whether to declare a state of emergency, a policy provision that would suspend union protections so department brass could cut overtime in half by moving 47 officers from specialized units to the streets.

Without the declaration, the city would have to negotiate shift changes with the San Jose Police Officers’ Association (POA). But the union supports the plan, which will allow the San Jose Police Department to meet minimum staffing levels for the time being.

Police Chief Eddie Garcia told San Jose Inside on Sunday that the declaration was his idea and he discussed it with POA President Paul Kelly before going to the council.

“It’s not a new emergency—this is strictly to get by the meet-and-confer bargaining that we have to do,” Garcia said. “Paul understands that we have to do something with staffing, without a doubt. Ultimately, he feels the same way I do, that we have to do something for our officers.”

SJPD’s ranks have fallen from more than 1,400 on the cusp of the financial downturn in 2008 to about 900. Voter-approved pension cuts in 2012 worsened the problem by pitting the city against its unions and leading many officers to find work elsewhere.

In the past four years, SJPD has seen 292 resignations and 198 retirements. As of this month, the number of vacant patrol posts fell to 87 below the 500-officer minimum.

Source: City of San Jose

Source: City of San Jose

The city finally resolved some of that conflict this year by putting a replacement pension reform plan—Measure F, which faces its own legal hurdles—on the Nov. 8 ballot.

But staffing the city’s police force remains a challenge. By the latest count, according to City Manager Norberto Dueñas, only 812 sworn officers are considered street ready.

Last week, CBS Channel 5 reported that at least a dozen officers have been camping out behind police headquarters because mandatory overtime forces them to work up to 17-hour days. Since many officers commute from the Central Valley and beyond, they’ve been opting to stay put during the week.

A few days before that report, Moveable Feast impresario Ryan Sebastian said SJPD’s understaffing forced him to postpone this weekend’s Bacon Festival of America by a month. City officials disputed that account, saying that Sebastian submitted permit applications late.

Still, city officials acknowledge that the department has been just about stretched to its limit. In a memo prepared for Tuesday’s council meeting, Dueñas predicts that extended shifts will jump by 20 percent in the coming half-year unless the city beefs up patrol.

Source: City of San Jose

Source: City of San Jose

If the council approves the emergency declaration, SJPD would enact the new staffing changes Sept. 11.

Councilman Johnny Khamis told the Mercury News that he believes the staffing shortfall stems from the union’s efforts to actively discourage new recruits.

His colleague, Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, has repeatedly suggested hiring outside help from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office or the California Highway Patrol, which he says would curb or eliminate overtime.

In an email to constituents, Mayor Sam Liccardo acknowledged that the emergency declaration is a temporary stopgap, not a solution.

“Isn’t this simply a Band-Aid? Yes, it is,” he wrote. “Until the police department can aggressively hire and rebuild again, we will continue to implement whatever short-term fixes will improve the safety of the community and of our officers.”

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for August 30, 2016:

  •  Unlicensed marijuana deliveries in San Jose may result in a criminal charge and a $1,000 bail bond. The city submitted the revised penalty as part of a proposed bail schedule for various infractions and misdemeanors. Massage therapists without proper licensing, permitting and certification would get slapped with a misdemeanor charge and $500 bail bond under the proposed schedule, while illegal dumping would coincide with a $500 bail and possible misdemeanor. Click here to view the complete criminal bail schedule, and here for the list for traffic violations.

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 the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Let’s get rid of officer Samuel Marquardt he makes $251,186.46 a year in salary, overtime and benefits and wast taxpayers money arresting and illegally in trapping gay males

    • Were you having a hissy fit when you called for the officer’s termination, or are you really so dumb as to think the officer was acting on his own initiative at Columbus Park? I understand that someone as narcissistic, impulsive, and unrestrained as yourself might think that personal chaos rules everyone else in the world, but that doesn’t make it so. That officer is the street level manifestation of an enforcement agenda set at much higher levels, but I guess when one views life through a glory hole, much is missed.

  2. Luigi and Khamis are fools. Luigi,though smart, is blinded by his hatred towards the police department. Khamis, seemingly not as smart, does not have any sort of understanding of the situation if he thinks a $7,000 signing bonus, or reducing payjobs officers work, will make any sort of impact on anything. They both claim to not think this is an emergency situation, which coming from “leaders” of our city is truly an ominous thing. Luigi was an architect of the illegal measure B which has led to this disaster. He has cost this city hundreds of millions of dollars in lost training costs of officers that have left, and the loss of tens of thousands of years worth of collective institutional knowledge at SJPD. He is grandstanding, as usual, calling for the CHP and Sheriff to assist, knowing this will never happen to any extent as both those agencies are short staffed. His followers in Willow Glen conveniently forget the damage Luigi has wreaked, and hail him as a hero for making moot proposals. Khamis was a little late to the game, but he too is cut from the same cloth Luigi et al are. There are many officers slated to leave SJPD,which was once the finest largest police department in the United States, if not the world. There are still many great people left, but 200 are eligible to retire in the next couple years, and most will undoubtedly choose to retire rather than for the likes of the aforementioned ungrateful fools.

  3. I’m worried about the safety and well being of our Officers. Working those kinds of hours can lead to injuries, health problems, and serious mistakes. I was just talking to Officer Johnson’s mother, Katherine Decker, and she too is worried about exhausted Officers on the street with little back up due to Officer shortages. She recounted to me how her son expressed concern about his safety due to lack of staffing the night he died.
    The Mayor and Council really blew it with Measure B. I’m not sure these actions so late in the game are going to help much. They are taking way too long to get Community Service Officers hired, and getting new recruits into the Police Officer’s academy. No one wants to work here. Not only because of the problems due to Measure B, but the cost of housing/living here. The Sheriffs’ Office is understaffed and over worked too. They can’t cover their own districts!
    The Pilgrim Cogic Church is holding a prayer vigil for our SJPD Officers, families of homicide victims, and our community this Wednesday, 8-31-16, at 7:00pm, in front of the Police Department on 201 West Mission, in front of the lobby steps, by the flag polls. I hope you SJI readers will join us.

  4. I don’t generally like pull quotes but these are just too precious;

    >“San Jose is expected to suspend union protections…”“Police Chief Eddie Garcia told San Jose Inside on Sunday that the declaration was his idea…“It’s not a new emergency—this is strictly to get by the meet-and-confer bargaining (!!!???!!!) that we have to do, Garcia said”“Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, has repeatedly suggested hiring outside help from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office or the California Highway Patrol, which he says would curb or eliminate overtime”.<

    Mr. Oliverio, just where do you and that mental midget Khamis think the Sheriff’s Department and CHP are going to find all these extra officers? Are either of these 2 agencies somehow overstaffed?!? Who is going to pay for their overtime? Who will pay workers compensation claims if one of their officers gets hurt working for San Jose or cover the cost of litigation if officers from either of these agencies end up getting sued, as law enforcement officers often do from time to time even when they do everything right? Why would the Sheriff or the local CHP office loan any of its officers to San Jose when San Jose can’t even manage their own officers properly? That would make as much sense as asking Evel Knievel to park your motorcycle!

  5. Wait…didn’t Sam write up a specific “plan” to have 200 more officers on the street within so much time? He pushed that as an edge to getting elected. We knew that was just a ploy but the public fell for it. You didn’t hold up your part of the bargain, Sam. Where are the 200 more officers you promised the citizens? What other promises did you make as a ploy to get elected, that you did not keep? Inquiring minds want to know. Sam should be held accountable.

  6. Just balance the requirements with the job qualifications. Why should a cop have to have a 4-year degree?

    I’ll bet many of the degrees are just pieces of paper, like Sociology, or “______ Studies”, or English Lit, etc.

    Just give applicants an IQ test, points for military combat experience, and hire able-bodied young folks who can pass an intelligence test, a rigorous physical, and a drug test.

    At current pay and benefits, the city would have a line of applicants from San Jose to San Diego.

    Am I missing something here?

  7. Sheriff Laurie Smith shot down Luigi’s brainstorm in a letter to the city council. She characterized his request for the Sheriffs department to patrol the city of San Jose as a “nonsensical idea unworthy of any further discussion.” You folks in Willow Glen have a winner.

  8. It is so interesting reading the FB comments by Willow Glen residents in Willow Glen Charm and Willow Glen Neighborhood pages regarding the police staffing crisis and their hero, Pierluigi. The Sheriff’s department has bluntly turned down his staffing proposal, as has the CHP. The Sheriff’s department said they will provide “mutual aid”, and Pierluigi at yesterday’s city council meeting made the false proclamation they had agreed to his request, so as to not lose face. For those that do not know, mutual aid already exists between every police department in the state. It is an agreement to provide immediate assistance to another agency for an immediate and dire crisis, SJPD has provided mutual aid to Oakland for riots and San Francisco during the Loma Prieta earthquake. Mutual aid is NOT for day to day patrol calls,and Pierluigi had the door slammed in his face by the Sheriff.

    Pierluigi is one of a few elected official who are directly responsible for pushing the illegal measure B, and the direct and very predictable results of the decimation of SJPD. 300 officers have left in the past few years for other police departments. Each officer has received an average of $200,000 in training costs, Pierluigi has cost the City of San Jose easily $60 million dollars in training costs alone. He is not a hero, he is a goat. A petulant, petty, and egotistical goat at that. His hatred of SJPD is palpable, and that of Johnny Khamis is a close second. You folks in Almaden have a winner in Khamis. His grasp, or lack thereof, of the facts of how the police department is run and what police deal with on a daily basis, is utterly astounding. That both Luigi and Khamis refuse to use the word “emergency” regarding police staffing shows how utterly out of touch and more to the point, deceitful, they are.

    SJPD is on life support. The chief is trying his best to make things work. The POA has repeatedly collaboratively worked with the Chief and city for solutions. You have the perfect storm, however. The hiring pool has shrunk dramatically as few want to go into police work. SJPD is woefully substandard in pay, benefits, and the amount officers pay into their retirement and health care compared to other police departments; you can go to the next city over and make $30k more a year without the overtime and be appreciated by your city council. In the next 2 years, 200 officers will be eligible to retire as they are part of large academy classes in the early 1990’s. Measure B still looms thanks to Pete Constant and billionaire Charles Munger, and no lateral dare come here if this is upheld. This is an unsafe department for officers – we have 800 officers for a city that should easily have triple that number of officers.

    It is a great thing though that the city council approved the project to install solar panels at the police department.

  9. Well this should drive property values down about 6 figures.
    Good work Sam, maybe we could beat some more Trump supporters too.

  10. Thanks should also be given to those ignorant uninformed voting residents who happily jumped on the Measure B bandwagon after being swayed by the likes of politicians Chuck Reed and his a** kissing puppet Pete Constants. Now those same constituents are wringing their hands “how could this happen to us”? The exodus began shortly before passage of Measure B and multiplied ten fold and still continues after voters passed Measure B. What emergency! Bad politicians and city management employees trying to ride out the wave and pointing fingers ’till their retirement? You can’t fix stupid. I wish the best for those joining the exodus as there are many communities that appreciate your service.

  11. It’s a mistake to declare a state of emergency without a clear and effective long term plan to resolve the understaffing problem. If the City didn’t have sufficient funds to meet the SJPD’s salary and benefits requirements in the first place, how will it now find the funds to pay for double time? Hundreds of thousands have been squandered on overtime, increased security for the officer’s ad-hoc trailer park, and taking 11 SJPD on a week-long junket to Hawaii seeking recruits, with zero success. As problems fester, officers are rewarded with opportunities to double their salary with overtime, use extortion tactics to manipulate citizens by cancelling public events out of concern for safety, and seem to have slowed their workload to dramatize their plight and force another round of wage and benefit increases to restore excessive pensions and salaries.

    SJPD can’t retain officers for several reasons, not merely because of low salaries and pension benefits. A $7K sign-on bonus won’t make enough of a difference to entice new officers. Internal struggles, scandals, poor leadership, a lack of a teamwork and cooperation between law enforcement and the DA’s office and department scandals have contributed to low morale.

    Decades of mismanagement, poor budgeting, bad negotiations, ill will between management, police and their union, and lawless, abusive police who have cost the city millions in settlement expenses, have eroded the public’s confidence, support and willingness to stand for the extortion tactics used by all police forces in pay and benefits negotiations.

    Few regular citizens in San Jose are satisfied with the SJPD’s community policing. SJPD caters to the wealthy, privileged, (mostly white) men, white collar workers and women in that order of priority. The SJPD’s abuse, harassment and illegal behaviors target the most vulnerable. I’ve witnessed domestic violence victims get sucked into the horrendous, corrupt family court system, by their predator/abuser and his crooked attorney(s), courtesy of the SJPD.

    SJPD officers don’t keep our communities safe as much as they generate income, harassing citizens to incite and jail them. SJPD collude with CPS, medical bounty hunters and local hospital staff to engage in medical kidnapping for billing and insurance fraud. Undercover investigations exposed the practice of psychiatric hospitals and emergency rooms giving kickbacks and rewards (e.g. cash, tickets, vacations, gifts, awards and donations) to police (and others) for each patient they help get admitted. Pizza and cookies are delivered free to local precincts to encourage patient “referrals” (abductions). SJPD has a close relationship with Good Sam and Valley Hospitals, both with horrendous records of abuse and fraud*. At least a few cases against the SJPD are filed annually for these abhorrent activities.

    If only SJPD officers performed their job with integrity, instead of looking for schemes to profit off the backs of citizens…

    *Good Sam is HCA for-profit corporation, notorious for the largest medical fraud schemes in US history (Search HCA, Columbia, fraud, psychiatric and Medicare). It forces ER physicians to “admit more patients or lose their job.” Valley is a public hospital that injures patients to manufacture a diagnosis and hospitalize them (e.g. transmitting infections, prescribing unnecessary medications to cause dangerous effects and run up thousands in inpatient costs). The SJPD rounds up people without resources to fight illegal activities.

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