POA No Confidence Vote Doesn’t Pass

The Police Officers Association did not pass a vote of no confidence Tuesday regarding the performance of San Jose Police Department Chief Chris Moore. That doesn’t mean everything is fine and dandy, according to a press release sent out by the police union.

“The fact that the POA did not pass a vote of no confidence at this time should not be misinterpreted as a vote of confidence in the Chief or the politicians at City Hall,” said the police union news release.

POA President Jim Unland said “it should come as no surprise that one of our members recommended a vote of no confidence against Chief Chris Moore” due to an increase in crime and drop in SJPD staffing.

As San Jose Inside reported last week, police officer and POA board member Howard Johnson asked for the no confidence vote to be placed on the agenda for today’s meeting. Interestingly enough, Johnson was quoted in the POA’s news release.

“This weekend in San Jose’s Evergreen neighborhoods there was another shooting,” Johnson said, according to the release. “In that area alone, burglaries have increased this year by 146 percent over last year. City Hall has failed the community and POA members are frustrated by the Chief’s seeming inability to vigorously speak out against the continued erosion of the staffing, safety and morale of the San Jose Police Department.”

Unland also cited staffing attrition and specialized departments being eliminated.

“Recently, the Department has lost over 100 officers to other departments with many more in the process of leaving,” he said. “Staffing has shrunk from 1,403 in 2008 to 1,060 today resulting in the elimination of the dedicated gang suppression unit, the Violent Crimes Enforcement Team, the Vice Unit and now the Fraud/Burglary Unit and two motors/traffic teams are on the chopping block.”

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. If you read the Murky News, you might begin to think that the only crimes San Jose experienced were homicides since there is so little coverage of the increased criminal activity in CSJ. And, too, you would think that, based on information from the Murk, a disproportionately high percentage of officers retire on medical disability retirements. What you won’t read and the Murk won’t print is this: San Jose’s criminal activity has been on the increase – a fact at least partially masked by the lack of reporting of crimes/incidents to which officers no longer respond. If you only read the percentages of officers retiring on disability retirements, you’d think that something was amiss in the retirement system, but you would have to realize that the lack of officers – particularly as compared to similarly-sized cities – wildly distorts the numbers. When you have 8 officers injured in the course of a couple days (this last weekend) and have only a bit over 1000 officers, it’s much more noticeable than in an agency with over 2000 officers as SFPD has. Incidentally, San Francisco’s officer/citizen ratio is about 3.4/1000. San Jose’s, by comparison, is about 1.07/1000 and steadily on the decline. These are facts you rarely- if ever – see printed in the Murk, a publication which seems intent on focusing primarily on the salacious or the inconsequential, but very little else of much substance. Take a look at the SJPD online blotter (http://www.sjpd.org/iNews/viewBlotter.asp?ID=10990) and then compare what you read there with what you see in the paper. In particular, note the number of incidents in which officers were injured.

    City Hall would like you to believe that, if pay and benefits for officers cost the city less, they could afford to have more officers, and, to a certain extent that’s true. However, that assertion and its attendant practical outcome (Measure B) ignores the fact that public safety is, indeed, a free market – and a highly competitive one at that. Officers are free to take their training, expertise and job experience to any agency they choose and, for any number of reasons. Sometimes it is the pay and benefits, sometimes it is for advancement opportunities of one kind or another other times, it is family needs which drive the change. Regardless of the reason, and within certain limitations, officers are free agents and can work for any agency they choose.

    In the case of San Jose, agencies across the state and as far away as Texas and Washington State – even the FBI – have recruited officers with as few as a couple years experience and as many as 20 in the case of one Sergeant. In a televised news segment, Councilman Constant stated that he felt other cities and agencies will find themselves in the same boat as San Jose and do much as San Jose has done, thereby leveling the playing field and causing the rate of resignations to plateau or decline. He, above all others on the city council, should know better though, and he is mistaken for the following reasons:

    1. Other cities manage their finances far better than does San Jose. They are therefore able to maintain their pay and benefit structures better than has San Jose.

    2. Even prior to pay cuts, increases in cost of benefits and the financial wrecking ball that is Measure B, San Jose was still toward the bottom end of other agencies in terms of wages and benefits.

    3. One of the main reasons that San Jose was able to attract both laterals and police recruits despite the facts of item #2 was that San Jose PD had an excellent professional reputation, opportunities to work in a diverse array of specialized units, and excellent opportunities for advancement. San Jose certainly no longer enjoys the reputation it once did. In fact, Nationally Speaking, San Jose has become more of a cautionary tale within the law enforcement community.

    With the unprecedented rate of attrition, and the elimination or consolidation of many of the units in Special Operations and the Bureau of Investigations, San Jose no longer has the same kind of career opportunities it once had. Couple that with a diminishing work force and radically increasing crime rate and you have a job that promises more work for less pay, more expensive benefits and working for an irresponsible employer (City Hall, and, to a lesser extent, San Jose’s citizens) along with greater challenges finding local housing, balancing a healthy family life and actually staying safe on the job as the 8 officers hurt this past weekend can attest.

  2. In a situation like this, something’s gotta give. In this case, it is the safety of the city. There can be no other answer. The times of doing more with less – as was consistently done when the PD had just over 1400 officers just a few years ago – are well and truly past. In fact, we passed the point of simply doing the same amount with less probably a couple years ago. Right now, we are firmly in the position of doing considerably less with less with absolutely no sign of that changing any time soon.

    Smaller better-managed agencies will continue to have to compete amongst one another as they do now. This means that pay and benefits among them ought to remain fairly static. This also means that, unless the situation radically changes, San Jose is going to be at the bottom of the barrel for compensation with predictable results: high rate of attrition, lowered hiring standards, and increasing crime rates.

    The saddest part of it, though is the degree to which San Jose’s citizens and officers all will suffer because of mismanagement and lies.

    Does the city have the funds to responsibly maintain the current pay/benefit/pension structure? Perhaps not entirely. However, the city is not nearly as destitute as its leadership would have you believe. Unfortunately, the budget supports so many special interest and funds that absent the political courage to stand up and assert that charter services should be fully funded first and foremost and at the expensive of nonessential services and grants. Millions upon millions of dollars every year are expended out of the general fund supporting all manner of endeavors – most of which have absolutely nothing to do with supporting essential city services. Some arguably do harm to the city as is the case with the grant supporting the Asian Law Alliance, which routinely sues the city. Furthermore, the city routinely loses money because of sweetheart deals made with influential (and quite wealthy) entities such as builders and developers. One further has to wonder to what degree those sweetheart deals are influence by the City Manager, Debra (de Mattei) Figone. Certainly, she is, ultimately, entirely responsible for the manner in which city funds are expended, just as the City Council is entirely responsible in that it is they who approve the budget. In June 2011, Steve Kline wrote an article articulating three reasons why Debra Figone should be fired. Those reasons are, if anything, even more valid 14 months later. (https://www.baycitizen.org/blogs/citizen/san-jose-city-manager-must-go-1/)

    And, as for the lies, where do we begin. Well, the advocates of Measures V, W and B certainly perpetrated numerous lies against the voting public. The first of these lies was that it is pensions which is, essentially, bankrupting the city. They are not, although there is certainly room for improvement. If there is any single cause of the state of the city’s finances, it is irresponsible spending. The next lie was that perpetrated primarily by Mayor Reed – that the cost of the pension shortfall was $650 million, when the fact of the matter is that it was about a third that amount.

    Finally, and equally egregious, was the lie that the aforementioned measures would restore the City’s fiscal health along with essential services. This assertion couldn’t have been further from the truth. Addressing the matter of attrition in the Police Department, the passage of Measures V and W precipitated the most significant exodus of police talent that the City has ever seen. Not only that, but, just 6 short months later, not only did the city demand pay cuts but also laid off 66 officers. Over the next couple of months so many officer resigned or retired from the PD that the city was forced to try to re-hire those same officers. Few accepted. And now, 3/4 of a year later, we are now about 50 officers below authorized strength, struggling to hire quality candidates and can no longer hold our own academy classes (certainly a cost-saver) as we had in years past.

    In short, San Jose pays less and has significantly diminished benefits for which officers pay more than surrounding agencies. Other local agencies are run in a more fiscally responsible manner and continue to compete among themselves, ensuring that the playing field is not level as far as CSJ is concerned. Still more agencies across the state and the nation recognize the value of hiring San Jose officers and will continue to do so. Those officers will be paid and compensated better (especially when considering the wildly divergent cost of living in other parts of the nation) and, based on allegorical evidence, be treated far better by the communities they now serve. These are desperate times for San Jose. They are getting worse and it will require its citizens to wake up, become involved politically and socially, and set things right with the city, holding its leadership accountable.

  3. Officer Anonymous,,,thanks for so eloquently putting into words exactly and truthfully what is going on with the SJPD. It has been, for all practical purposes, been destroyed beyond repair, at least in the foreseeable future. All the years of working to make this the largest safe city in the United States have been totally wasted, unless you can afford to live in one of the privileged areas of the city.

  4. Observation, thank you for the kind words. However, even the ‘privileged’ areas of the city – those which have traditionally been insulated from the vagaries of crime – are now finding that they are no longer immune. Willow Glen, for instance is seeing burglaries skyrocket along with every other part of the city, just as one example.

    Mayor Reed and most of the rest of the city council – with a couple of notable exceptions – have tried to act as though there ins’t a free market for municipal employees just as exists in the private sector. Attrition in pretty much every department of the city is absolutely unprecedented, but nowhere has it been more extreme – and the results more immediate and, frankly, frightening – than with the police department, along with dispatchers call takers and other support personnel. In fact, San Jose recently lost its senior fingerprint examiner to the County which, reportedly, pays $20k more than San Jose.

    San Jose has the absolutely lowest officer/citizen ratio in the nation right now. Even if San Jose was at authorized strength, that would still be true. The city’s own general plan from a few years ago called for the hiring of enough additional officers to bring sworn officer strength up to over 1700. This would, just barely, have brought that ration up to the national average.

    Now, though, including Sergeants and command staff, the city has fewer than 1000 effective sworn at the PD, and it seems that number is steadily diminishing as more and more officers are getting hurt and looking for better-paying, better-benefitted positions elsewhere.

    The current City Council is presiding over the most extreme decline in quality of life and safety that San Jose has ever seen and Mayor Reed Debra Figone and Pete Constant have, in particular, have precipitated and orchestrated that decline.

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