San Jose police agree to cuts as murder rate climbs

SAN JOSE, Calif.

These layoffs comes at a time when San Jose now has 27 homicides -- seven more than all of last year. Police officers are concerned this is going to raise the crime and homicide rate in the city. Ironically, just hours before the City Council and police agreed to the 100 layoffs, four people were shot, one fatally.

The shooting broke out a little after 3:00 a.m. on the 1200 block of Oxton Drive in San Jose.

"We don't know if it was one individual that came up and opened fire as these victims were having a gathering in the garage," said Officer Jose Garcia.

Police say three of the victims managed to find their way to local hospitals with non-life threatening wounds.

Hours after the shooting that police believe could be gang related, the City Council approved a budget plan that lays off at least 100 police officers. Even with that agreement, Mayor Chuck Reed thinks even more officers will have to go in order to balance the budget.

"We're not going to be anywhere near the 120 that are likely to be laid off," said Reed. "We're going to be well over 100 officers that will lose their jobs."

Twenty-nine-year-old Chris McTiernan is one of those officers. He left the New York Police Department to come to San Jose two and a half years ago. He says being laid off is like being penalized for doing something wrong.

"That doesn't make sense in my mind. If you do a good job you're supposed to be rewarded, certainly not anything taken away," said McTiernan who says he is young and has choices, but other officers do not. "A lot of my academy mates have young children and are looking at losing their houses unfortunately."

Police ratified the agreement that calls for a 10 percent reduction in compensation and will result in the layoffs of the 100 officers. They did it to help San Jose shave $15 million from the city's $150 million deficit. But police officers believe the cuts will compromise public safety, especially with the homicide rate now already higher than all of last year.

San Jose Police Officer Association president George Beattie pleaded with the Council to find a way to save officers jobs.

"I have a request or I'm actually imploring that the mayor and members of the Council look at some of the alternative proposals that are out there to save as many, if not all, of the remaining officers in tier one," Beattie told the Council.

If the officers had not agreed to this new contract, an additional 156 officers would have been laid off. Several City Council members tried to save some of the officers' jobs Tuesday but were unsuccessful. The City Council approved the mayor's budget message and will likely approve the whole budget next Tuesday.

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