Of the 40 officers who recently graduated from San Jose's police academy, five have already left to join departments in Hayward, where they'll make a little less, and Morgan Hill, where they'll make a little more.
San Jose Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen wants the city's money back.
"Why are we going to train someone, pay that much money and then they decide to leave after they receive the training and education," Nguyen said.
Nguyen wants a five year pro-rated retention plan. It costs $170,000 to train a recruit. If the graduate stays with the department less than a year, the city wants 100 percent of its investment back. From there, the city wants 75 percent for less than two years, 50 percent for less than three years and 25 percent for leaving in less than four years.
"Creating indentured servants out of police officers is a smoke screen for a council that puts in policies that are driving our recruits away," Det. James Gonzales, San Jose Police Officers Association spokesperson, said.
The police officers association blames city leaders for the exodus from San Jose, where pensions and benefits keep changing and morale is low.
Taxpayers have mixed reactions to the payback plan.
"I'm not sure about five years but I definitely think they need to put time into the city because the city has put time and money into them," Allison Redington said.
"They put in the time then they should be able to move on to wherever they feel," Ted Mason said.
The plan will go to a committee next week for review.