SJ police layoffs loom as budget talks break down

June 2, 2011 4:53:51 PM PDT
Budget talks have completely broken down between the San Jose city council and the police officers union. That's raising the prospect of even more officer layoffs than initially anticipated at a time when homicides are on the rise.

Both sides agree the city's rising homicide rate is a reason why more police officers -- not less -- are needed to patrol the streets of San Jose.

"I think the rise in the homicide rate sort of demonstrates why I think we need more police officers," San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said.

George Beattie, the president of the San Jose Police Officer's Association, found common ground with the mayor on that topic.

"When you have a homicide rate that's already exceeded last year's homicide rate, now is not the time to be laying off police officers," Beattie said.

The largest disagreement between the two sides centers on the topic of pension reform. Neither side came to an agreement during contract discussions yesterday, with the SJPOA admitting they walked out of the negotiations.

"They're asking me to work to 60," said Beattie. "Can you imagine that? A 60-year-old cop coming to help you when some 25-year-old muscle-bound parolee is attacking you? They want you to send a 60-year-old police officer to come help you."

Mayor Reed says the cost of police pensions is high and getting higher.

"I know that the costs of pensions is skyrocketing," Reed said. "Ten years ago, the city spent $63 million for retirement costs. This year, it was $180 million; next year, it will be $250 million."

Though the SJPOA walked out of meetings on Wednesday, they told ABC7 they would be willing to come back to the table if asked.

If both sides can't come to an agreement soon, the city expects to lay off about 278 police officers on July 1.

Load Comments