Police Budget: We Get, You Get

For this weeks blog, I am continuing the discussion about providing a fixed percentage of the budget towards police. A nickname for this might be, “We Get, You Get.” The name refers to when the aggregate budget grows, then funding for the most critical service a city can provide—police—would grow. (Providing a sewer system is a close second for the most critical service).

Some may say, “What happens if the total budget doubles? Then we would be spending too much on police?” My first thought to this question is, “So what?” So what if the budget grows and additional police officers and other related expenses of police force could be added.

But let’s start with reality. The reality is local government will not have a windfall or increased tax revenues. Property values are not going to catapult and consumer spending is finicky, as it has recently stalled. We may indeed see the growth of tax revenues outpace expenses after pension reform, but it will certainly not be double. So, if tax revenues for the general fund do grow 10 percent, then police would get an additional 10 percent. If we have a severe recession and revenues fall, then the police department would have to choose how best to handle it by possibly postponing purchases of equipment or not filling positions left vacant by retirement.

Back to my main point: There is insatiable demand for police services; from stopping the most egregious violent crime to issuing speeding citations. If we value the ability to walk down the street and know that criminals’ fear of police will stop an assault on an innocent person, then that is a good problem to have.

Too often elected officials are asked to choose between one program and another. Rather than eliminating discretionary spending across the board, more often cuts are implemented. However, at some point a city’s core competency suffers. A fixed percentage of the budget would allow for funding to be on autopilot.

Some may say, “Why not carve out other city departments at a fixed percentage?” Nonsense. At some point we have to choose one over another, and police provide the most value. That value translates to safety and, if marketed well, economic development. Coming up with a formula for more than one department would never happen and I do not believe residents would support it.


  1. It’s disgusting how all of sudden you are a HUGE advocate for the SJPD. Where have you been for the last 2 years while public safety has been getting hosed?!?!?! Oh, that’s right, following Chuck Reed’s lead, and voting right there with him.  Funny, isn’t it.  Oh, I forgot, you’re up for re-election in June. Silly me.  Wake up people and see the deceit and grand standing put on display by Council member Oliverio.

  2. PO,

    What is your take on this:

    “Boosting productivity per officer would allow further staff cuts, says an analysis Reed requested from IBM”

    How can the mayor you (council) even consider laying off 350-400 additional officers and 125 more fire fighters.

    If that happens we will become worse than Oakland.  Funny, how this comes out at the same time the city is in mediation over pensions.  We all know Chuck in dug in and nothing will come out of these meetings and is hell bent on a June ballot measure.

    • The supposed independent IBM study was simply another tactic by Reed to force POA concessions.  The message is “if you don’t knuckle under, I will lay off 400 officers”.  The scare tactic worked before and it will work again.  The POA will go to their members with the same excuse for capitulation saying “well, it could be worse.”  And the net result will be more pay and benefit reductions causing an increased mass exodus of good officers to better agencies.  But you see, this is a win-win for Reed and Figone.  They will hire needed officers from the bottom of the barrel on the new second tier pay/benefit scale.  San Jose will accept all of the candidates rejected by other agencies just to fill the quotas.  Crime will of course increase but Reed will blame it on other factors and the gullible public will swallow it.

  3. How is the city going to pay for the 4.1 BILLION the RDA still owes.  Would be nice if could respond to some of these questions and not just post a blog and walk away.

    • RDA may be dead but its ghost lives on. Property Tax revenues will continue to be siphoned from schools, roads and other county funds until the outstanding bonds are paid off. It will take another ten years before the damage done by redevelopment begins to disappear. RDA was pissing away up to $200 million a year.At least we are moving in the right direction. No one seems willing to accept blame for 56 years of RDA fiasco. Aren’t the former RDA board members and the Executive Directors accountable? Remember that at election time!

    • One proposal being considered, according to SJDA, is DOUBLING San Jose’s annual business license tax!!  As if this city were not already unfriendly enough to businesses, particularly small businesses.

  4. I disagree with the report.  As a retired officer I witnessed several of these organinzations hired by the city come in.  EVERY single time they went back to the city with one line.  Leave these officers alone.  You have a very successful arrest and conviction rate with a minimal amount of officers. I will still match SJPD cost per taxpayers to ANY large city in California.  Anyone want to take that one on?
        Once again the city pays an organization to say what they want.  This time it worked.  Smells like the Cortex plan the city tried to swindle in. A relative minimal investigation will show how flawed it is.  What I cannot understand is they approve an audit for the Police Department then vote down one for the RDA.

  5. Sorry P.O. You lame attempt to portray yourself as an advocate for public safety is a FAILURE. I look forward to hearing from your opponent. Your days as a SJ councilman are numbered, enjoy them.

  6. Pier im not sure of your sudden about face regarding the budget for emergency services. I suspect it is political but hey whatever or maybe you have come to your senses and you see that the mayor is leading this city straight down the sewer. A lot of damage has already occurred and will take years to fix ie staffing, proactive enforcement, community policing (which btw your mayor has absolutely wiped out community policing. He has done what no other mayor has done. He vilifies the police force thereby stripping community support. All this for his political agenda) Pier have you truly woken up? I want to believe that you are smelling the mayor’s rotten stench. Yes it is true SJ emergency services receive the smallest cut of the general fund in the entire state. If you hold true to these ideas there could be some hope down the road. At this point I dont believe it until the brainwashed (scared) followers on the council start standing up to Reed and the wrongs he is doing to the citizens of this city.

    • Oh he has not done an about face for Emergency Services, just PD. He still hates the FD. Can you not tell by the way he slams them every chance he gets?

  7. Selling city property at below market prices to political insiders gives millions taxes away that could be used to pay for more public safety


    What is your position on city property sales ?

    Why not public auction rather than back room deals to insiders ?

    Do you support crony capitalism funded by city taxpayers ?

  8. Selling city property at below market prices to political insiders gives millions taxes away that could be used to pay for more public safety


    What is your position on city property sales ?

    Why not public auction rather than back room deals to insiders ?

    Do you support crony capitalism funded by city taxpayers ?

    Crony Capitalism ? – Back Room City Property Sales

  9. I don’t believe PLO was ever ‘against public safety’ so the comments about him doing an ‘about face’ have no basis.
    I’m not crazy about this percentage scheme of his though. The crummiest coworkers I’ve ever had were the ones who were always obsessed about how much the boss was making. We don’t want to foster any more of this sort of entitlement attitude amongst our employees. A fair wage is a fair wage. It shouldn’t matter to the employees how much their ‘boss’, the City, is making. If anything, give ‘excess money’ back to the taxpayers. 
    And unless this plan was preceded by dramatic pension reform it would be destined for failure. The young retirees of the future won’t care a whit if the City’s revenues are down that year. “Give us our damned money”, they’ll grizzle. And that’s exactly what we’ll have to do even as we’re cutting the salaries of the active, working policemen.

  10. You want to know the real reason SJPD is Pissed off?  Their getting scammed by the mayor and screwed out of wages.

    Per SJPD website a top step officer makes $97,198 per year.  In a few months officers will be paying over 21 percent of every pre tax dollar they make into retirement=  97198 x .89%= $86506.22. 

    For blue shield HMO health coverage that officer will pay approximately $200 per pay period= $200 x 26 (pay periods) = $5200 in premiums $86506.22 – $5200 =  $81306.22

    Assuming that officer pays 15% to Uncle Sam in TAXES that leaves=  81306.22 X .85=  $69110.287 Divide that by 26 pay periods and you have $2658.08 per pay period.  Minus $100 dollars a month for union dues = $2558.08.  Minus uniforms and dry cleaning ( approximately $60 per pay period) =

    $2498.08 bi weekly base “bring home” salary for the average top step officer with a max of 6 hours of overtime for pay.

    The mayor is proposing SJPD officers pay up to 45% percent of their pre tax dollars into their retirement in his ballot language.  That would keep them in the 3 @ 50 retirement plan that all other agencies in the area have.  Here’s my quick math on that= $97198 minus 45% for retirement = $53458.90 minus $5200 in medical premiums = 48258.90 Minus 15% in taxes = $41020.06 divided by 26 pay periods = 1577.69 – $100 dollars in union dues = 1477.69 minus $60 dollars for uniforms and cleaning = 1417.69

    Top step Officer will be bringing home $1417.69 bi-weekly

    Compare this to Palo Alto PD.  A top step PAPD officer working nights makes $54.18 per hour ($112,694.40 Per year.)  On paper it only looks like about 15k more per year than SJPD right? Wrong!  The city covers all their retirement contribution and I believe all their medical premiums, all their uniforms, pays them to work out, and unlimited overtime = $54.18 x 80 hrs (bi-weekly pay)= $4334.40 minus taxes 4334.40 – 15% = $3684.40


    Top step Palo Alto officer brings home around $3684.40 bi-weekly.  Compare this to San Jose’s $2498.08 bi-weekly and potentially $1417.69 Bi-weekly and you can see the difference.  Currently thats a difference of about $2372.32 dollars per month that Palo Alto brings home over SJPD.  If the mayor gets what he wants it will be a difference of $4533.42 per month (bring home dollars less).

    Palo Alto PD pays about as good as Santa Clara and Sunnyvale, and Milpitas and Mountainview.  SJPD makes about as much as Sacramento SO currently, except our house prices are quite a bit higher.  If this ballot passes SJPD cops will be making about as much as New Orleans cops, maybe even a little bit less.

    Now you see why these SJPD cops are pissed at what the mayor is doing.  They already make a bunch less and now they are going to be making about a third of what Palo Alto makes while doing a more dangerous job in a rougher town.  SJPD cops will continue to leave in droves until the pay becomes remotely competitive with surrounding agencies.  You get what you pay for, and this city isn’t paying for much.

    • ALL employees are getting screwed. They are at a much lower salary, so imagine what their take home pay will be if they have to pay an additional 25% into their retirement. Pretty soon, they will have to pay the City to come to work. While other employee’s salaries were reduced by 10%, the largest union had salary reductions of 12.5%, coupled with increase in medical insurance deductions, copays, other take aways…there isn’t much left and employees are bailing…not just PD. It’s isn’t worth it to work here anymore when you can find something closer to home that pays better and has better benefits. No incentives, at all.

      • The only reason you took 12.5% is because the prior year when everyone else took a pay cut, MEF and CEO took a 2.5% increase because their contracts weren’t open. So, you are still ahead the 2.5% for that year. Now you are caught up with the rest of us. During the year you took an increase, 25% of your staff were making more money than their supervisors. You aren’t any worse off than any other City staff person.

        • The TRUTH is MEF wasn’t about to give up yet ANOTHER raise when then had taken one the year before, when others did not and they took yet another one two years before that…when other’s did not. They had given up two raises and were not about to give up a third one, so the city took it.

          Actually, Staff NEED to make more than their supervisors. Staff does all the work. Supervisors walk around with coffee cups in hand and play lots of favoritism. Where were they when MEF was giving up their raises, while supervisors collected theirs?

        • Sorry the earlier post is a little confusing. I was in a hurry.  What I was trying to say is MEF had already given up two raises, when others did not. They had just given up a raise the year before and had given up yet another raise a couple of years before that. They didn’t want to give up a third raise, so the city took it.  Now THAT’S the truth!

  11. Correction.  I used some bad math……….21% of 97198= $76786.42 minus $5200 in medical premiums = 71586.42 minus 15% in taxes = 60848.45 divided by 26 pay periods = 2340.32 minus union dues -$100 and uniform costs -60 = $2180.32 bring home per pay period not 2498.08.

    That makes a difference between the bring home of a top step SJPD officer compared to a Palo Alto officer approximately $3008.16 per month.  Thats right folks.  Palo Alto cops bring home just over $3000 per month more than SJPD cops currently.  Thats a good sized mortgage payment in in itself, and its only going to get worse if this ballot measure passes and is upheld.

  12. Pier,
    I noticed you seem to like to throw the “Social Contract” phrase out there a lot. Is that your new buzz phrase? Do you even understand what that means in its entirety or did you do what the evangelists that come to your door do; pick out a portion that fits your belief and ignore the before and after parts?
    As for the IBM study, it is not worth the paper it is written on. How can you take a bunch of suits, have them interview a few people and then take what they say as anything more than drivel? That would be like Apple hiring a PD officer to tell them how to run their company. Probably not of much value. 
    Oh, and IBM did this for free! Really? Why? Maybe because they get an in on selling computers, databases,software, programs to improve efficiency? Sounds like the past Cisco deals, better watch out!

  13. What a joke on the IBM Data! The guy stops by a Fire Station and talks to a Firefighter for 3 hours and then makes the judgement to close Fire Stations and reduce Police staffing by 400?? I know lets form a committee and tell IBM how to run their business! Oh yea I forgot Mayor Burns hired IBM.How about this Stat that is not included in the report: SJ Police and Fire are the lowest staffed in the nation. Or with the disgusting response times none of us citizens are being saved! PO: Wednesday is your last chance to stand up against this crap! I wonder what Steve Kline will say? I bet it’s the opposite of you!

  14. Eventually something will have to give.  Either an organized crime element will take over the job of protection through extortion, vigilantiasm, or the police will accept the low pay and supplement their pay through payoffs. Public space that once was easy for foot traffic will be rezoned by law enforcement and leased to small entrepraneurs for a very low cost and turned into obstructive outdoor restaurants, streetside retail shops, and pirated material vendors.

    • It should come as no surprise that cities that pay low wages to their police officers have traditionally also suffered from significant corruption within the ranks and increased brutality.  San Jose wants their police force de-professionalized and that is exactly what they are going to get.

      • It is an every day reality where I live.  It is simply how things get done.  I’ve watched the police make their rounds collecting their due and proper.  They regularly set up traffic stops and hand out bogus tickets but allow for them to be paid on the spot wink

        I’ve been paying attention to this particular issue for almost two years now, and though not as extreme yet, the parallels that can be drawn when comparing whats going on all over the U.S. against developing countries is alarming.  There are benefits to systems like this but it comes at a very high cost.  For example good cheap food and merchandise will be readily available.  But so will garbage, food for stray animals, rabies, and sidewalks that are not user friendly.

  15. Any of you out there watch this TV show?  its on Showtime.  The private consultant firm that sways companies to merge, buy, fold, whatever appears slick enough.  That’s EXACTLY what I thought of when I heard about IBM coming in to evaluate the Fire Department.  and of course, the dumb suckers (the City) who buy their slick presentation and then actually pay them for it.

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