San Jose declares state of emergency over police staffing shortage

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The San Jose City Council has voted 10-1 to declare a state of emergency under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act over the police department's staffing shortage.

The city council's action means on September 11, Police Chief Eddie Garcia will be allowed to reassign 47 officers from specialized tasks, such as investigations, to fill vacancies as police officers.

The police department believes it needs 500 officers on patrol for a city of more than one million residents.

RELATED: Police union asks SJ to declare state of emergency

But it routinely has 348 shifts unassigned because of its staffing shortage.

Those shifts have been covered by voluntary and mandatory overtime, but Mayor Sam Liccardo says that leads to fatigue.

"No resident, no chief wants to have a lot of officers out there, working multiple overtime shifts in a week, knowing they may not be well rested, and they have to make very critical decisions," he said.

RELATED: SJPD dispute claim that shortage forced postponement of festivals
Chief Garcia says it impacts the lives of officer when they routinely work 12 to 14 hour shifts.

Officer fatigue is a concern for the chief and for residents, not to mention work-life balance.

"Officers want to have, deserve to have lives, and forcing them to cover the inability the city has to fill these ranks is something we really need to consider all options," said San Jose resident David Frederick.

The State of Emergency is expected to mean more officers will be available to respond to 911 calls.

The declaration allows the city to suspend a state law that requires the approval of the police union.

The union supports the plan.

The changes in the department will take effect in two weeks.

Click here for more stories about the San Jose Police Department.

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