San Jose Police Department welcomes new recruits

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San Jose Police Department is welcoming a class of 54 new recruits to the force, which is the largest group of recruits for the struggling department. (KGO-TV)

In South San Jose there are signs of process as the city's police department works to rebuild its force.

The department unveiled its newest police academy class with 54 new recruits beginning their training today - the department's largest class in several years.
RELATED: San Jose police expected to announce plan to change staffing levels

Chief Eddie Garcia also announced today he's now looking into staffing the city's South Substation with officers, which he hopes will ultimately help with reducing response times and crime rates. Details are limited, as the chief stated he's still in the beginning stages of this proposal, but many residents say it's a step in the right direction. The substation, which opened in 2014, was originally built to serve local residents, but has since been used for training purposes and has not been open to the public.

City and police leaders are now looking ahead to the future after years of struggling to retain or recruit officers. The size of the academy class is a big deal considering the critically low staffing levels that have forced current officers to consistently work overtime.

Overall, more than 100 new officers are currently being trained, bringing the department's staffing to just under 1,000 sworn personnel. It's an encouraging number, but still a far cry from when San Jose had nearly 1,400 in its rank-and-file. SJPD previously lost more than a third of its officers over the past decade due to early retirements, as well as frustration over pay and benefits.

Earlier this year, police ratified a new contract with a 20-percent pay increase over the next three years, which will make San Jose more competitive with neighboring agencies. Entry-level officers earn a base of roughly $84,000 per year before overtime and bonuses.

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