San Jose police recruit says she was encouraged to quit

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Tension is growing between the mayor of San Jose and the city's Police Officers Association. The two have been bitter enemies over pension reform and now a new issue has surfaced. Is the police association urging new recruits to quit? ABC7 News takes a look at the details of this new battle.

San Jose is having difficulty filling its police academy classes and retaining its graduates. Comments this week by a recent recruit may provide a clue why; she says she and others were encouraged to quit.

Elyce Rivas says on her first day in the police academy last May, the president of the Police Officers Association, Jim Unland, said they should quit.

In an article she sent to the San Jose Mercury News, Rivas wrote, "He told us that it would be better for the department and for us if we would just quit..."

Unland denies saying that. He told ABC7 News, "I never told the recruits to quit. I've done this orientation class several times. Never have I told them to quit. Quite the contrary. What I tell them to do is concentrate on their studies at the Academy to make sure they graduate."

Now, Mayor Chuck Reed is calling for an independent investigation, not only by the city, but also by the Public Corruption Unit of the U.S. Attorney's Office. Reed and the POA have locked horns for years over public safety employee pension reform -- an issue that has prompted about 400 officers to leave San Jose police.

"We'll get the facts and find out if it's part of a broader effort to undermine the police department. That's very concerning to me. It's concerning to the people of San Jose who have serious public safety concerns, and we need to find out if the Police Officers Association is intentionally undermining the police department," Reed said.

The Police Officers Association says Rivas has recanted her statement. However, Rivas told ABC7 News that's not true.

"I was trying to get the essence of his message. I wasn't trying to put quotations of anything that he said in my article. I was trying to get the essence of the message, and I don't recant it," Rivas said.

The Police Officers Association wants an investigation too.

"What there is a need for an investigation is to whether the mayor and other city officials are using city resources, city time to perpetrate allegations on behalf of a political campaign," Gregg Adam, the Police Officers Association attorney, said.

He's referring to mayoral candidate Sam Liccardo, a pension reform backer. His opponent is Dave Cortese, who is endorsed by the police officers.
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