Tentative contract deal reached for San Jose police pensions

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose has been struggling to keep officers and to recruit them after voters passed a tough pension reform measure, Measure B, in 2012.

The force has lost 400 officers but the exodus will stop as a result of a tentative contract deal reached Friday between the city and the union.

It has been a long time since the mayor smiled in the presence of the presidents of the police and fire unions. However, they think the tentative settlement they've negotiated will restore morale, stop officers from leaving and increase police patrols throughout the city.

"More officers are likely to say with our police department and not resign and retire, and it's going to help us attract more people to our police department with a more competitive package," San Jose Police Dept. Chief Phan Ngo said.

The deal calls for a five percent pay rise -- 2.5 percent in September and 2.5 percent in December -- then a four percent increase next year.

It calls for all parties to work together on a new plan to hold down pension costs that will be put to voters in November 2016.

"We'll be going back to the voters in November, but we can also move forward with this deal today. And that's the critical thing. Having a deal that we can move forward with certainty at the same time, that we'll know we'll be checking with the voters in November," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said.

A legal challenge is still before the courts, questioning if Measure B was properly placed on the ballot three years ago that specified pension benefit cuts.

The 900 members of the police union will vote on the accord this weekend.

"This global settlement package is good, not only for the police department and fire unions. It's good for our city, it's good for our citizens," San Jose Police Officers Assn. President Sgt. Paul Kelly said.

A five percent signing bonus will also be offered to San Jose officers who left for other departments.

"As far as bringing other people back, that's going to take a little bit time. But we're going to see those numbers increase and then the other thing is it's going to absolutely help our academy numbers," San Jose Police Asst. Chief Eddie Garcia said.

Eighteen recruits graduated Friday from the Police Academy.

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