San Jose leaders divided over seeking outside help to fully staff police force

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Residents of San Jose continue to complain that there aren't enough officers on the street to protect their neighborhoods. But there's a big divide among the city's leadership over whether outside help is needed. (KGO-TV)

Residents of San Jose continue to complain that there aren't enough officers on the street to protect their neighborhoods, but there's a big divide among the city's leadership over whether outside help is needed.

San Jose is down about 600 officers from full staffing, yet there were only seven graduates in its latest academy class. At that rate, one council member argues it could take 10 years to rebuild the department.

Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio thinks it's time to call in for help to patrol san jose.

"We've gone from 1,400 to 1,200 to 1,000 to 900 to 813, and it's going to take over a decade to get that number up. So rather than wait around, it's time to ask for help," Oliverio said.

And the help would come from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office or the California Highway Patrol.

"This is a half-baked idea without even checking the capacity of other agencies to come in and help. What we need to do is build the San Jose Police Department," said San Jose Police Officers' Association president James Gonzales.

The police officers association doesn't embrace it. It has been done elsewhere. Three years ago, Alameda County sheriff's deputies patrolled Oakland streets under a 90-day contract.

San Jose residents fed up with crime spoke out at a city council public safety committee meeting.

"Three men were beating up a woman, but the police didn't come. The next day, SJPD said they had to prioritize the calls and didn't have anybody to handle the matter," said San Jose resident George Szymkiewicz.

San Jose's police chief Eddie Garcia is against the idea, arguing that outside officers may not be sensitive to community needs and expectations. They would be bound by their own agencies' policies on pursuits and conduct and the plan would be detrimental to morale and recruiting efforts.

Willow Glen resident Valerie Allman doesn't buy that.

"Folks are just speeding through. That's a very simple law and order, pull 'em over, write a ticket. So I don't understand what cultural differentiator there may be in play," Allman said.

The plan is still under discussion.
Related Topics:
newsemploymentSJPDsafetySan Jose
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