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San Jose Police Department struggling with low staffing levels

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A huge police response in San Jose has some critics worried about coverage in other parts of the city. (KGO-TV)

A huge police response in San Jose on Thursday had some critics worried about coverage in other parts of the city.

It's no surprise the city's police department is understaffed but to try to get a handle on things, it could mean placing more of the burden on the officers and possibly doing away with the department's police academy.

A hostage situation was the department's highest priority on Thursday. That's what concerns the Police Officers Association.

RELATED: San Jose police standoff situation ends with suspect in custody

"During this hostage situation, we were completely wiped out of resources and a second major incident would likely cause us to call for outside help," SJPD Officers' Association spokesperson James Gonzales said.

It comes at a time when the city's police department is still struggling with low morale and low staffing levels.

There are 839 street-ready officers for a city of over 1 million. There are also nearly 200 vacancies.

The police chief warned changes are coming. "We will begin with 252 10-hour shifts per week that will need to be filled by officers on an overtime basis," SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia said.

Until now, working overtime for the most part was voluntary. Soon officers will rotate into patrol shifts on their days off.

That option worries East San Jose community activist Joe Nieto. "I'm concerned, the people are concerned. Enough is enough. It's time to do what we need to do to build up the staff."

City leaders hoped vacancies would be filled by San Jose Police Academy grads, which used to mean about 90 people per year.

But this upcoming class has just seven cadets.

Now the chief is considering disbanding the academies and instead using the instructors out on the streets.
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