The mayor’s shoes must be worn out because the Sam (Liccardo) Shuffle has been in overdrive over his defense of the status quo with our police department.
When Liccardo rage types a 1,000 word article loaded with obscure statistical references, misleading charts and his ongoing obsession with everything Cindy Chavez, (apparently one of Sam’s affordable housing goals is to allow Cindy to live rent free in his head) residents know it’s time to strap in for Silicon Valley’s version of Disneyland’s Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. His Aug. 15 opinion piece in San Jose Inside was quite the ride.
Sam has occupied an office at City Hall for over 15 years. During that time, he championed the disastrous Measure B that caused over 500 police officers to leave, emergency response times have shot through the roof and the city struggles to provide basic police services our residents and crime victims deserve.
As for Cindy Chavez, when she left City Hall at the end of 2006 there were 1,370 officers, the crime rate was below the national and state average and San Jose was designated the safest large city in America. Oh, and when you called 911 a cop responded quickly to your emergency.
During Sam’s City Hall reign, the SJPD went from 1,370 officers to 1151 authorized police positions and today can only field 961 street-ready officers according to Chief Anthony Mata. To make matters worse, the recent San Jose Police Officers Association member survey indicates hundreds more officers are planning on leaving over the next 24-months.
Yet, Sam tells us the SJPD “vacancy” rate is low. The vacancy rate is low because Sam lowered the number of officers the City could hire to 1173 from a much higher number. Think of it this way, if Sam lowered the authorized staffing to 550, he would be telling you that the SJPD is double the size it should be. Only in Liccardoland does this make sense.
During Sam’s time at City Hall, 911 response times to Priority 1 calls (most pressing emergencies) increased 21%. Last year, SJPD didn’t meet its Priority 1 response time goals in 15 of San Jose’s 16 neighborhood police districts. Worse, response times for Priority 2 calls doubled to 22 minutes. To put that into context, if a San Jose resident calls 911, they would have enough time to watch an entire re-run of Seinfeld on Netflix before we get there.
Shuffling Sam spent a lot of time discussing “budgets,” “positions,” and “vacancy” rates in his fact-devoid San Jose Inside diatribe. However, “budgets” don’t answer 911 calls and “positions” do not arrest criminals. Real police officers do.
Sam says that when a police officer leaves San Jose and is replaced by a recruit, it’s the same because the “position” is filled. That’s a lie, and he knows it. The recruit is NOT a police officer. They cannot make arrests and patrol our streets. Worse, Sam knows that 30-40% of those recruits won’t make it out of the training academy and field training program. It’s like saying a tomato and a tomato seed are the same. They’re not. One you can put in a salad, the other you have to wait around to see if it grows.
What’s troubling is Sam chose to lie about the number of officers who left SJPD. Liccardo says 165 officers left between Jan. 1, 2021, to Aug. 6, 2022. That is simply untrue, that was exposed in a Fact Check article in another local publication. The true number, which we used, is 206. According to the mayor, more than 40 officers have gone missing. We would call SJPD’s missing persons unit to try and find them but there is probably no one there to answer our call.
When you see Sam and his apprentice Matt Mahan change the topic from SJPD not being able to catch as many criminals as possible to judges releasing accused criminals, don’t fall for it. It’s the old political misdirection play and Sam and Matt Mahan have worn it out. Sam and his apprentice also say that officers are paid $189,000 dollars per year, not true. Sam deceptively adds higher paid ranks together with officers and all the required overtime it takes to run the department and uses that to misleadingly get to $189K.
SJPD cannot afford to lose more officers and it must be competitive in retaining those officers still here while attracting quality new officers. Because even at the end of Mr. Sam’s Wild Ride, he admits we need to increase the current size of SJPD as soon as possible.
Sean Pritchard, is president of the San Jose Police Officers Association.