Unshackle the Police Reserves

San Jose Municipal Code Section 8.12 authorizes the use of the Police Reserves. Although the Reserves are available, the city is not utilizing their full potential. Use of the Reserve officers could offer valuable assistance to the city because they are fully sworn and have the authority of a regular officer under California Penal Code Section 832.6(a). Reserves have already completed the police academy and carry a gun.

If the city requested, the Reserves could potentially put an extra 20 officers on the street tomorrow. There are currently over 80 Reserves on the roster. If just 25 percent responded, the city would have 20 additional sworn officers available to patrol our neighborhoods. I realize that this may require negotiation with the labor union, and there is the possibility that the Police Officers Association may not be supportive. However, I am hopeful that the city and the POA could work collaboratively and bring forward a plan that would utilize the reserves; even if the plan were in the form of a pilot program and/or for a certain amount of time. For example, if the police union and the city could agree to use reserves for one year for specific purposes, etc. At the very least, we should try. 

Another goal to strive towards is allowing the hiring of retired SJPD officers to work and be paid on an hourly basis—but not accruing further pension benefits.  These retired SJPD officers could do background checks, burglary investigations, evidence gathering, get warrants, etc. for a one-year period.

Currently, the Chief of Police mandates that Reserves can only work alongside a regular officer, in the same car. Quite often the Reserve is not even counted as being in the car; thus, while there are physically two officers in the car, they are signed on as a one-man car and can only be dispatched as a one-man unit. If that practice were changed, we would see an immediate 800 hours per month of extra police patrol. Every Reserve must currently do a 10-hour shift on patrol each month (80 x 10 = 800). The Los Angeles Police Department allows Reserves to work by themselves or with other Reserves:

If the Reserves that are qualified to work as solo officers—about 80 of them are—were allowed to work on their own, they would add additional patrol cars on the streets; making a more visible police presence. I have heard that some current officers may resent the utilization of reserves and would rather not drive in the same car. If that is true, then the city and POA should allow Reserves to drive by themselves as most current officers do or allow Reserves to team up in the same car. If we allowed this, we might see many more Reserves volunteering more hours.

Reserves could also be utilized in other ways, too. For example, they could provide prisoner transport, be the second officer on a crime scene, assist in back-up when officers are sick, in court, etc. Having Reserves be part of the SJPD team would also lower overtime costs and provide time for police officers to take a vacation. 

The Chief and the command staff know of the authority of the Reserves to backfill units because they already use the Reserves for the “Keith Kelly” Relief night (twice a year), as well as relief for the Police Olympics (one week a year).  Therefore, there is a current and active precedent for using the Reserves for SJPD backup.

Although the Reserves work for free, they are allotted $1 per hour of work for their uniform allowance. Therefore, the city would incur an $800.00 per month fee for uniforms for the Reserve for a second voluntary shift per month.

San Jose needs to do the best we can today and we need to utilize all of our available resources now by allowing the Reserves to be visible patrolling San Jose neighborhoods. Utilizing Reserves and Retired SJPD is a cost effective way to provide law enforcement during this time with limited tax revenue.

Pierluigi Oliverio is a San Jose councilmember for District 6.


  1. If you want so badly to use the reserves as replacements for full time officers, I suggest you go down to the reserve office and sign up.

    Nothing in this world is for free you numb-skull!

    The reason they are reserves is that they always wanted to be officers but had better pay and benefits elsewhere! Reserves don’t become reserves for a sense of civic duty, they do it because the can make cash money working pay jobs on top of their nice comfortable salary at another business. On their pay jobs they direct traffic. Even the two times a year they are out, regular officers do the work and the reserves are relegated to having to be told what to do because they are less experienced and rusty from only riding 10 hours a month.

    Heck, even the retired officers in the reserve program will tell you that police work not done on a full time basis leads to skills that perish over a short amount of time. That in turn leads to increased risk of injury and death if your head is not in the game 100% of the time.

    I for one do not want to attend a funeral for a reserve, simply because you think “free” is a good idea. On that note, however, since we are discussing costs, I think that any person who is able to drag their knuckles on the ground and walk semi upright can be a council member and that job is really the one that should be done for free! See how silly it sounds when we are talking about replacing pay in your job??

    Push the union on this and I foresee the disbanding of the police reserve. Remember, the city charter “authorizes” the department to staff a reserve program..it doesn’t require it.

    You really are a sad excuse for a problem solver. Free workers…jeeez. Put down the spleef bro.

  2. Your understanding of reserves, the scope of their work, and the liability issues is astounding. I hope that you understand the other issues you face as a councilperson better than this one.

    Just one small example: there are about 75,000 hours of patrol time each month required to police this city of a million people. Even if you threw out all the other issues and were able to add 800 hours by the reserves, this represents 1% of the total required patrol hours. Is this seriously the best idea you have?? I watch the city manager, mayor, and city attorney’s reaction when you repeatedly bring this up and even they look at you like you are nuts, though in a polite way.

  3. Pierre , it always makes me laugh when you try to write about topics that you know absolutely nothing about ! Were you a decent Bartender??? Maybe it would be in everybody’s best interest if you went back to tending Bar.

  4. Josh, please edit this garbage immediately. PLO is so lost. It’s irresponsible to allow him to prattle on at will.
    I once dealt with a reserve officer who was “directing traffic” while wearing his iPod in uniform and doing a little bad dancing at an intersection. When I told him that he does not look very professional, he replied, “Ha, well, if you don’t like it, you volunteer”
    I didn’t understand what he meant by “volunteer”so I asked him what he meant by volunteer and he told me, “I’m a reserve. I don’t give a sh—what you think, I make plenty of money in my real job. This is just for beer money”
    This was right here in Willow Glen too.
    Is this the kind of accountability and professional standards that Pee-Low is suggesting?
    I know you don’t have the censorship proclivity of the Murk but this time, I think it would be appropriate to censor this D6 Minister of Disinformation.
    Please JK, stop the madness.

  5. Pierluigi,

    Sometimes I really like out of the box thinking, and I can see that you are making an honest attempt to try and resolve a serious public safety issue with your suggestion to use reserves. Thank you for your effort but you aren’t qualified in law enforcement, and you don’t understand that this issue isn’t like outsourcing labor at the Rose Garden.

    You should have sat down with Police Chief Moore before writing this column. He could have given you better ideas on how to handle our Police Officer shortage. Nothing replaces on the job training and experience.

    While you might think your idea is a good one, it will only end up getting some inexperienced reserve, or some citizen injured or killed. Training in a classroom is far different from on the street experience.

    If you want to “unshackle,” something, start by addressing the real issues here. Start by working with the public and get them to assist the Police by starting Neighborhood Watch Programs in their neighborhoods, get them to report crime when they see or hear anything, get them to seek help for their at risk family members, and hold a resource fair to educate them on resources available from non profits.

    I never see you do any of these things in your district newsletter, nor do I see you incorporate, or collaborate with non City resources non profits, or the SJPOA. You are always too busy trying to be the Lone Rider, and trend setter. (Not a good trait for a Mayor want to be.) 

    More importantly Pierluigi, start working on repairing the harm you have caused City employees by treating them with disrespect, and outsourcing their jobs. You can have a million great ideas but if you don’t have the trust and respect of your employees, you’ll always stand alone.

    • Kathleen,
      Thanks for your continuous support of the police department. I know you understand these issues better than Pierluigi. Your comments above are very thoughtful and very accurate.

      Reserves have other full time careers and families to take care of. Most of them volunteer their time as a reserve because they have a sense of civic duty. They did not become reserves to be whored out as a lame brain idea of a politician.

      For Pierluigi to suggest their is acrimonious between regular and reserve officers shows how out of touch he is. Pierluigi is trying to make fire where there is no smoke. I have never heard any regular officer make disparaging remarks about reserves and are happy to have them come out for a shift.

      Reserves tend to work with a regular officer because of the complexity of the job, ever changing laws and department policies, and officer safety issues, and that they don’t do this job often enough to feel completely comfortable working alone. Working one 10 hour shift a month is not enough to keep the perishable skills fresh, and is a recipe for disaster for that officer or the citizens. I know; unlike Pierluigi, I use to be a reserve officer.

      Would you want the surgeon to operate on you for a lifesaving procedure who worked 1 day a month, the lawyer to represent you when you faced a long prison term yet only practiced law once a month, or the commercial pilot to fly you who only flies the plane once a month? I guess in Pierluigi’s world these are all acceptable, especially if they are for free.

      By the way Pierluigi, there use to be close to 200 reserves in San Jose and this number is down to 80 and falling. Although the financial reasons are different, many reserves have left for the same reasons regulars have left; the deplorable way they have been treated. I have spoken to many who have gone to surrounding cities where they are appreciated as community volunteers and not cancer by association as they have been in San Jose.

      Lastly Pierluigi, along with your proposal to use and abuse the reserves, what have you proposed as a financial safety net to them in case they are hurt or killed? These folks have full time careers and families to care for, but I frankly really don’t think you give a damn.

  6. Oh I would love to see a reserve write a 261 report using the new AFR system! Or for that matter any of the know it all jackwagons that post in here on a regular basis. You have no idea what you are talking about and the ins and outs of doing this job and what liability is involved. Let alone if they are injured you fools will dispose of them like you plan with the regular officers. PLO you are an absolute disgrace!

  7. You have lost your mind. Seriously.
    Please step down from your council seat. San Jose needs true leaders right now, that can think independently, not puppets of Mayor Reed. True problem solvers.

    It is embarrassing to watch you, and I live in district 6.
    I have no representation.

  8. While perhaps 5% of PLO’s idea are actually good ones (i.e. ending construction of low-income housing, ending construction of housing in general until the PD can catch up, limiting commercial to residential zoning conversions) this has to be among the worst. It is both unreasonable and irrational to expect that reserve officers can take the place of officers who do the job four or more days a week nearly every week of the year. They can’t keep up with the training or legislative and case law changes, among other practical reasons. And I think that it’s excessively optimistic to say that all 80 of our reserves (incidentally a number significantly from historical norms, go figure) are qualified to work as solo beat officers. Even if they were, 800 hours a month is a drop in the bucket compared to the *3760* hours per week which represent the absence of 94 officers due to resignations and officers being on disability. Let’s do the math on that one: 800 hours/month is a whopping 5% of the man hours not worked every month (16,293 hours/month). Meaning no disrespect to those reserves, but the math doesn’t support the solution, which is pretty much like trying to patch up the Titanic with a wad of bubble gum.

    Furthermore, the other solutions offered up to try to stem the exodus of officers from the PD – retention bonuses, etc – don’t come anywhere close to being a solution either (yeah, I mean you Mayor Reed in your completely BS op-ed from last week).  You can’t buy loyalty with a pittance. Nor does that same pittance buy forgiveness for how Mayor Reed (especially) and his allies have treated San Jose’s employees -and especially public safety – over the last couple years. That pittance won’t create amnesia sufficient to let bygones be bygones or gloss over the sense of betrayal and abandonment on the part of the citizens for whom so many have sacrificed so much. Finally, the situation will not improve so long as the spectre of Measure B looms over employees like the Sword of Damocles.

  9. I watched the study session and your speech.

    Why would retired officer come back and work for an hourly wage?

    If he gets injured, will the city pick up the tab, or does his own insurance take care of it.
    After his six hours of overtime, does it be come comp time or does he get paid for all his overtime?

    What if he is sick, does he get sick time?

    Your attempt to outsource will never happen. This is not Los Gatos or Campbell. This is the big city, where real crime happens. Tell your citizens about the over 250 attempted murders that have happened in San Jose this year alone.

    But I guess as long as it does not happen in Willow Glen or the Rose Garden neighborhoods it does matter.

  10. Hey Pier, I heard you had another revelation and are going to suggest that Rotor Rooter employees work for free at the waste water treatment plant as an emergency stopgap measure for workers who have fled this city. Any truth to this??

  11. So, apparently, SJPD reserve officers are leaving in droves. I am led to understand that there are now 55 or so reserves left on the rolls, down from about 80. I think it is extremely telling about the state of public safety in the city of San Jose when even those sworn officers who do NOT rely on an salary from the city and who are not paying exorbitant costs for their pension and do NOT have the specter of Measure B hanging over their heads are also leaving in droves. What does that say for their perspective of city leadership? It certainly lends credence to those of us who assert that city leadership is largely not to be trusted.

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