Dear Chief Davis

I hope your weekend was enjoyable. I wanted to let you know that I believe that you have a very difficult job and I wanted to say thank you for your nearly 30 years of service to San Jose.

Managing an organization of approximately 1,400 people, public or private, is a challenge. It is impossible to make everyone happy internally or externally all of the time, or even some of the time. Overseeing a Police Department is one of the most difficult and demanding jobs one could have because of the high level of public scrutiny. As I have heard you say many times at the police academy graduations; wearing the police uniform puts the officer in the spotlight and all eyes are on the police officer. Our police are judged by everything from their words to the tone of their voice to body language.

With the retirement of Assistant Chief Katz there is a void in the police department leadership ranks. SJPD has the privilege of having many skilled men and women through the ranks who work hard and are committed to the safety of our residents. These dedicated police officers can and will rise to the level of leadership as needed. This is the benefit of having high standards of recruitment and vetting during the police academy and field training program. These high standards are a result of the investment of approximately $129,000 made by the city of San Jose into each new officer’s training and thus we risk a loss of approximately $10 million with the layoff of 80 of our most recently hired police officers.

As you know I have been on the Council for three years and in that time there has been challenging public discourse around SJPD. Each time SJPD needed an articulate speaker, for example on police records, or a technical speaker on the Bobby Burroughs police sub-station, and one person’s performance stands out. Again and again, whether at a council meeting, committee meeting, community or special meeting, I remember one person in particular always being there by your side or by himself defending, explaining and promoting the SJPD. This person was always on target and therefore respected by many officers from all backgrounds.

That was and is Capt. Gary Kirby. Time and time again Capt. Kirby rises to the occasion. Chief Davis, I believe you have a unique opportunity to promote from within a respected member of the SJPD. From my perspective Capt. Kirby is just missing the title of “Assistant Chief” since he already performs by your side and has lived up to the term, “got your back,” but the “back” to me refers to the entire police department.

Thank you for your consideration Chief Davis. Stay Safe.


  1. Why not sell the naming rights to the City of San Jose? We sell naming rights to everything else.
    How about Larry Ellison City or Oracle City? We could have the America’s Cup Race in Alviso and Larry could buy the Warriors and move them here. How many Billions could the City get for naming rights? If Ellison is not interestd there is always Googleville, Yahoo Town, Ciudad Adobe, Apple Valley
    and others.
    Billions and Billions. When the naming rights expire we could call ourselves “Fat City”.

  2. Mr. Oliverio,

    I will be agendizing a review the city charter and the section on the council’s powers for our next executive session.  Please see me beforehand.

    R. Doyle

  3. So 80 get laid off…

    How many do we have retiring this year?

    Since pension is based on the greatest amount earned in a year, how many of you are willing to bet that the ones collecting the most overtime this year will be the ones going out on retirement?  Can you say SCAM?

    I mean god, if the deputy fire chief had gone out in 2008, 90% of 450k?

    Sorry, maybe we should declare bankruptcy to get out of this trainwreck. Then we could change our cities motto to be “Like Vallejo, only bigger!”

  4. I can and will tell you without hesitation, Capt. Kirby has an outstanding reputation and is highly respected by the officer ranks and command staff. Chief Davis should have promoted him to DC. I suspect Davis clearly understands Capt. Kirby is far too smart and principled to say YES everytime Chief Davis asks for his opinion. As such Chief Davis chose a recent highly publicized politically correct appointment instead. Ironically that individual has a reputation that is the polar opposite of Kirby’s. Capt Kirby is smart, highly respected within the department and industry, and probably most importantly, a “stand up guy”, i.e. a man of high integrity. As rank and file we are thankful he remains with us and has not jumped ship for a Chief’s position elsewhere. HE HAS THE TALENT AND SAVY TO BE CHIEF TODAY and is the most qualified, REGARDLESS OF RANK. As rank and file we can only hope for such an early Christmas present.

  5. I am a retired Firefighter for the City of San Jose. I read with interest almost everyday the articles and comments on San Jose Inside. 

    I tested in 1967 along with several thousand applicants for the job of Firefighter.  About 10% of the applicants earned a spot on the hiring list and perhaps 150 applicants were hired.  When I was hired I was told by the City that I would be paid a specific wage, I would receive specific benefits and I would work a specific number of hours per week.  I did not have to threaten anyone to receive these benefits, they were listed right on the application.  During that same time anyone interested in becoming a Police Officer or a Firefighter was welcomed to test for the position.

    Over the years I was granted pay and benefit increases so that when I retired I received 75% of my pay as a pension.  You can say that 75% of pay for over 30 years of service is a generous amount and I would agree with you, but that was the offer. 

    During my career there were many stressful times associated with the type of work we did and a few times that I feared for my life.  I never tried to say that I risked my life every day, but there were occasions that I still vividly remember. The men and women of the San Jose Fire Dept. and Police Dept. have always been willing to put themselves at risk for the people of San Jose because that was our job.

    During my career and the first years of my retirement I have always been proud to be called a Firefighter but now when I read the comments regarding City employees in general and specifically Firefighters and Police Officers it makes me sick.  No one ever called me a “ pig at the trough “ at 3am when we were prying someone out of their car, or when we were desperately trying to save someone’s life on a medical call, or when we were fishing a baby out of a swimming pool, or when we were trying to save someone’s house and possessions. During my career we never reneged on our part of the deal but now it seems that this is what the City is trying to do.

    I guess I can’t say I’m really surprised since the Mercury on a daily basis portrays us as bad people.  Just try to remember that the benefits we receive were bargained for, in my case, during the last forty years and except for the downturn in the economy now, they were never an issue.

    • Bob Cocilova,

      Thank you for your service. Not everyone buys into the Mercury News hype. The vast SILENT majority of citizens support Fire and Police. The Merc just doesn’t report that because it won’t sell papers, or ad space in their dying paper.

  6. I actually don’t mind that a council member has simply stated publicly and for the record that if the current chief wants to promote from within for this position, he may have the support to do so.  Seems honest and straightforward to me.  Better than sneaky text messages and hushed words among political brokers lining up votes before or during a council meeting.

    Let’s check the city charter…hmmm…there’s section 411, copied below.  I think Pierluigi is alright in that he is “express(ing) its (his) views and fully and freely discuss with the City Manager anything pertaining to the appointment and removal of such officers and employees.
    SECTION 411. The Council; Interference With Administrative Matters.

    Neither the Council nor any of its members nor the Mayor shall interfere with the execution by the City Manager of his or her powers and duties, nor in any manner dictate the appointment or removal of any City officers or employees whom the City Manager is empowered to appoint except as expressly provided in Section 411.1. However, the Council may express its views and fully and freely discuss with the City Manager anything pertaining to the appointment and removal of such officers and employees.

    Except for the purpose of inquiries and investigations under Section 416, the Council, its members and the Mayor shall deal with City officers and employees who are subject to the direction and supervision of the City Manager, City Attorney, City Auditor, Independent Police Auditor or City Clerk, solely through the City Manager, City Attorney, City Auditor, Independent Police Auditor or City Clerk, respectively, and neither the Council nor its members nor the Mayor shall give orders to any subordinate officer or employee, either publicly or privately.

    • If he had expressed his views to the City Manager in a private, professional manner that would be fine. The fact that he chose to do this on a blog for all the world to see shows poor judgment at best and a violation of the Charter at worst.
      Not a very smart move from my perspective—especially when you are dealing with personnel issues.

  7. Santa Cruz is hiring 8 police officers after recent downtown riot guess some of San Jose police officers will be applying  

    Laterals make $70-90,000 + with a kicked back lifestyle and great surfing waves, lots college girls / guys and affordable housing

    8 x $129,000 = $1,032,000 gift from San Jose taxpayers to Santa Cruz

    “investment of approximately $129,000 made by the city of San Jose into each new officer’s training “

    Hot Summer Nights with lots of alcohol at downtown clubs is coming More reasons to not go downtown but to go to Los Gatos, Campbell or Santana Row

    What will it take a large San Jose riot with lots property damage or people hurt for Council to hire more police officers after layoffs?

    • Actually that’s a nice career plan in the public sector.  You usually have to start at a really small town that doesn’t pay well or a big city with big problems where no one really wants to work or live.  After paying your dues for a couple of years, you can lateral to a community you like, -or- start working on moving up into easier and better paying positions, or both.

      If some folks enjoy the job, I’d also encourage them to step down to a smaller department after 18 years where they can contribute their experience and still draw an honest wage without needing to discover a stress disability for that extra pension.

      Somewhere else there was a discussion of reserve officers and how they can sometimes help departments stretched thin.  Could there be a way to allow retired officers to stay on as reserve officers so they could help out when needed?  Maybe something in the retirement system could be worked to allow paid reserve officers (for limited hours) so we can continue to benefit from the experience, the officer can continue to draw some pay to supplement retirement and everyone wins with extra help trained and capable of stepping into complex law enforcement situtations.

      • Currently many retired SJPD officers are hired as reserve officers and provide volunteer hours to augment the police department with special staffing needs, festivals, and god forbid, disasters. They go thru all the training full time officers get and are required to work a minimum (I think 10) hours a month of free service.

  8. Pier,
    The SJPD use to have close to 1400 officers. That number is now at about 1300 officers, and after retirements and layoffs in June, the number of officers will be down to only 1200. This does not include the many officers who are lateralling to other departments to escape the impending contract and turmoil with so much of the senior managers being fed up and leaving. There is no academy for at least another 2 years and with normal attrition the number of officers in 2 years will be under 1000. That is truly shocking for a city which will have 1,100,000 residents by that time.

    • Pier,

      It makes me feel better that people are paying attention to the problems we are facing as a city. Financially, we are in the trough of this current economic mess; speaking in terms of our great Police Department, we are at the apex of a critical period which holds the potential to alter this city’s reputation and history in such a negative way that we will feel the effects for generations to come.

      With the current census being tallied, we will be provided with a more accurate picture of the problems we are facing. I am in no position to criticize our public officials, however I suggest that our inevitable shortage of Police Officers becomes an important topic sooner than later. The current episode of playing political “chicken” with the men and women who put their lives on the line for us residents is counter-productive at best. If this issue is visited sooner than later, the resolution itself will be a considerable cost saving measure for this city’s future.

      I really hope that the San Jose PD continues to conduct their own rigorous recruiting process and continues to hold their own academies. Hiring tons of laterals and graduates from independent academies looks attractive in cutting costs. This is a risky practice and does not guarantee the current standard of quality control that the SJPD is known for. Our title of being the safest large city in America is without a doubt crucial to San Jose’s economic success. Neglecting the very foundation of our status as a safe city will be a costly disservice to our residents.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *