It comes down to money. Officers, along with all city employees, gave up 10 percent of their salaries two years ago. Now the cops want it back and if they don't get it, some say they'll leave and go to neighboring Santa Clara to work.
No one denies the San Jose Police Department is understaffed, but now that the police officers' union has lost its fight for higher wages, the union president says expect a mass exodus of officers.
"We've had 70 officers resigning each year and on par to make those numbers this year and I think this ruling is only going to accelerate those numbers," said Jim Unland, the San Jose Police Officers Association president.
Homicide Detective Juan Vallejo is ready to walk. He told us, "I have my roots here. If it was an emotional decision, I would never leave. It's not about the people I work with. What it comes down to is just the math."
Officers are making less because they agreed to a pay cut to help balance the budget. But the city and an arbitrator on Thursday said San Jose can't afford to increase the entire department's pay by 10 percent.
"We have the capacity within the $10 million to give a 2.5 percent general wage increase across the board and a 4 percent retention bonus," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.
The city sent an email to the union Thursday afternoon asking they come back to the bargaining table. The union refuses, insisting San Jose has the money and needs to pay up. Residents meantime, just want to feel safe again.
"What it comes down to is why did they become cops in the first place? To get the bad guys and whatever right? And if they aren't going to come out and get them, then what's the use? I might as well get my shot gun," said San Jose resident Will Lach.
A new wave of police academy recruits will be on the streets by the end of the year.