Talks break down between PD, mayor on layoffs

June 2, 2011 8:09:14 PM PDT
It is coming down to the wire in San Jose where police service could be reduced to levels not seen since the 1980s.

Talks between the police union and the city have broken down. The San Jose Police Department and the City of San Jose are at a crossroads when it comes to police services.

At a time when San Jose has seen 22 homicides this year -- up from 20 in all of last year -- there could be as many as 278 police officer layoffs if the city and the police department can not come to an agreement.

"A lot of the violent crime will get investigated, but not much else," said Chief of Police Chris Moore. "Property crimes wouldn't see much attention."

The San Jose Police Officer's Assocation has agreed to take a 10% pay cut to avoid more layoffs, but negotiations abruptly fell appart yesterday over the police union's proposal for an optional retirement plan.

"It got hung up on pension reform, and it became quite clear to us that the city was trying to sabotage our efforts at pension reform," said George Beattie with SJPOA.

San Jose's chief labor negotiator says he is willing to continue talking and offered to eliminate pension reform language to get a deal done. A last-minute agreement would save 156 police officers from being laid off.

"I've given them another option to try to settle," said San Jose labor negotiator Alex Gurza, "and if they are willing, I've invited them to meet with me tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. to sign a tentative agreement to save those officers."

The mayor's budget message will be released late Friday and, like the police chief, he is resigned to more officer layoffs if the two sides can't seal a deal.

"It's unfortunate (that) we have to lay these officers off, go to arbitration and then hopefully to bring them back," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

Police officers and the community are holding a collective breath. Detective Jeff Nichols is one of those who will be lade off if talks end in a stalemate.

"It's a tough pill to swallow right now beacuse my future was set on this department and on this city," Nichols said.

The city budget crisis means there will, for certain, be 122 layoffs within the police department. There's still enough time to save the other 156 officers from being laid off if an agreement can be reached before a city council meeting on June 21.

If the city and the police department can't come to an agreement, the layoffs of 278 police officers will take effect on July 1.

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