More SJ Officers exiting force than those entering

San Jose police officers say the department has turned an ominous corner with more officers leaving than new ones are entering.
December 7, 2012 9:46:38 PM PST
San Jose police officers say the department has turned an ominous corner. They say the number of officers fleeing the department is growing faster than the city can train new recruits. ABC7 News takes a look at the very latest in the saga of the incredible shrinking police force.

Officer Tina Boales is one of six people just this week, walking away from a job at the San Jose Police Department. After 27 years, Boales is retiring with a disability and is part of an unpresented exodus.

"The environment is definitely toxic. Officers really can't speak their mind about what's going on. The chief doesn't listen, the mayor doesn't listen. City Hall doesn't care what we have to say," said Boales.

City Councilmember Pete Constant is a former San Jose police officer who also retired on disability. He and the council majority have supported Mayor Chuck Reed's fiscal reform policies including pay cuts and voter-approved pension reform.

"It's really not about the city or the mayor and the council against the unions. What it is about is keeping our city afloat, dealing with a budget situation that has just been disastrous for over a decade, and saying, 'What are we going to do to fix it?'" said Constant.

Police officers say the fix itself is a disaster. And the only thing the two sides can agree on is that the staffing shortage is real.

The department is authorized to have more than the 1,017 current sworn officers. There are 44 new recruits in the pipeline, but the union says if you add up the people who have left or plan to leave since that academy started in Sept. 2012 -- a total of 53 -- it's a numbers game the department can't win.

"We call it voting with your feet. They are walking out. They don't have any other way. We can't strike, we can't do job actions and so the only message to send loud and clear is to leave," said Jim Unland, the San Jose Police Officers' Association president.

Tina Boales says no amount of recruiting will ever replace the decades of experience the city is losing, in the name of fiscal reform.


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