Many San Jose Police officers set to retire in 2010

January 1, 2010 11:47:09 PM PST
Dozens of San Jose police officers are retiring this year and because of budget cuts, many of them will not be replaced.

Everyone is worried about this new reality. The chief of police says baby boomers are retiring. Usually new recruits replace them, but not this year.

The San Jose Police Department will have roughly 82 fewer officers on the force by August; 42 are retiring this month, and another 40 are expected to retire in July. Most of the officers will not be replaced.

"You bet it's a concern," says San Jose Police Chief Rob Davis.

City leaders blame the state budget crisis and the lack of funding for police academies. A new training program is supposed to start on Saturday, but it is on hold since the state has not paid its portion yet.

"It'll be a difficult thing to figure out how we can do more with less," says Mayor Chuck Reed.

"Nobody's happy about it," says Davis.

Davis is forced to redistribute and reallocate resources in the meantime. Losing 82 of 1,350 officers isn't easy. On average, only about 40 officers retire annually.

"We're looking at other ways to deliver services, might we flux schedules, might we look at new strategies to deploy people, we might have to pull people from detective units and put them onto the streets," says Davis.

"I would say we're down to the bone and we're going into the bone marrow. At some point, something's going to break," says George Bettie with the police officers association.

Davis insists, crimes against people will remain the department's priority.

But crimes against property or public nuisance problems may have to become secondary. San Jose resident Brian Kapavik finds this decision outrageous.

"This happened March 15th and we've never gotten a call since then," says Kapavik.

His car was broken into last year. Even though it was all caught on tape, he says San Jose police told him, back then, it was a low priority case.

"It's already at what we feel is a low point and probably will only be worse and will deter people from wanting to live in San Jose," says Kapavik.

Because of the public's concern the city will, for the first time, ask residents this month what type of public safety priorities do they have.

The mayor says he will consider those ideas when organizing this year's budget.