Correa's complaint is the second of its kind this year. In June, two other San Jose police officers, also on airport duty, said they faced retaliation for raising the issue of timecard fraud.
Correa served the department for 27 years as a bilingual officer, saying, "Every day I was so energetic, every day it was a dream come true." He says that dream became a nightmare. This week he filed a lawsuit in federal court. The South Bay resident spent most of his last seven years patrolling the San Jose International Airport. He claims fellow officers routinely went mountain bike riding, out to eat, or took in a movie when they were supposed to be working.
Correa says he was forced to retire early after his team labeled him a snitch and started retaliating against him. It began in October 2010 when he left a pizza party, "Oh I crossed the line," said Correa. "I ruined their free night. And that's the culture, but do I have to do what other people do just because people say it's okay, doesn't mean it's okay."
Correa is suing the city, the police department, and two individual officers. The police department says there is not a widespread problem of timecard fraud and note that when it is suspected, it is investigated, even prosecuted. Last week police arrested one of their own, Jeffrey Enslen, for grand theft stemming from alleged timecard abuse.
"As police officers, the last thing that we want here in-house at the police department is a dirty cop," said department spokesperson Sgt. Jason Dwyer. "It hurts the community, it hurts us as an organization, it's wrong."
Correa says recent pay cuts and pension reform measures have angered many officers and says the cheaters feel entitled to work the system, "I worry about the younger officers going in because there are probably a bunch of people like me that just want to do the right thing and they are on thin ice."
A representative from the city attorney's office says it has reviewed the complaint and found Correa's complaints to be unsubstantiated and will aggressively defend the lawsuit.