Rift between SJPD officers, San Jose city leaders widens

David Louie Image
Thursday, June 19, 2014
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In San Jose the rift between police officers and city leaders is widening after there was a decision to impose mandatory overtime.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- In San Jose the rift between police officers and the city is widening. A decision to impose mandatory overtime is causing more conflict. Cops complain that it could put the public in danger, if they're overworked and exhausted.

Crime is known to spike during the summer months, and that's why San Jose wants to make sure it has enough officers to handle all of the calls, so they're turning to mandatory overtime in order to extend hours on all three shifts.

This decision is going to put the police department to a test, balancing the safety of the public with the safety of its officers. The department will ask for volunteers first to tack on any extra two or three hours at the end of their shift. Mandatory overtime will kick in when there aren't enough volunteers.

That doesn't sit well with the San Jose Police Officers Association.

"Officers are already involved in a voluntary overtime program to fill the holes in our patrol division. Now this mandatory overtime is another sign that the City Council has failed to address the problems that are driving our officers away and keeping our neighborhoods unsafe," James Gonzales from the Police Officers Association said.

Gonzales is putting in a dig at city council members for their pension reform campaign that is driving veteran officers, and even new recruits, to jump ship and join other police agencies. The city currently has 888 sworn officers. That's 221 below authorized strength.

A spokesman for the police command staff says officer safety and public safety are equally important.

"We don't want to put officers in harm's way, nor do we want to go ahead and jeopardize the public as a result of an officer being tired. And we understand that, our administration understands that, and at the end of the day, we want every officer to be safe, and we also want to be able to provide the core services to our public," San Jose Police spokesperson Ofc. Albert Morales said.

The city council's public safety committee met Thursday afternoon where Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen stopped to talk to ABC7 News. She said she supports the decision to go with mandatory overtime and hopes that in time it won't be necessary when more officers join the department.

"If officers don't want to work because they're tired or they're fatigued or they're exhausted, then we're not going to allow them to do that because at the end of the day, we want our residents to feel safe, and if you put exhausted officers out there and they're not going to be able to do the job, then it really defeats the purpose," Nguyen said.

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