SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The San Jose Police Department is being told it needs to change how it recruits officers. The city auditor's recommendations come as the number of recruits falls far short of the number of veteran officers leaving.
Recruitment has been a problem for San Jose police for several years as pension benefits were scaled back, making jobs at other police agencies more attractive. A deal has been reached to un-do cutbacks under Measure B, but academy classes remain small.
The auditor's report suggests San Jose needs to step up its recruitment efforts to return to its authorized strength of 1,109 sworn officers. About 100 officers are leaving a year, yet the most recent academy class numbered 16.
The audit recommends SJPD must boost its advertising and recruitment efforts, consider giving credit for candidates with military experience in lieu of college requirements, and offer retention bonuses and reimbursement to cover application expenses.
The Police Officers Association expects to see about 30 officers return from other agencies after a deal, reached in August, is implemented that abolishes Measure B -- a pension reform plan that triggered an exodus.
"The settlement framework that was agreed to, to end Measure B is not been able to be implemented until the other non-sworn unions have a similar agreement. That process is still going on," vice president of the San Jose Police Officers Association James Gonzales said.
"As soon as that framework gets into place, a lot of these of these recruiting deficiencies will probably fix themselves, and also making sure that we don't lower the standard to be a San Jose police officer," San Jose police assistant Chief Eddie Garcia.
The audit is also critical of a lack of diversity in the department. Asian-Americans make up 32 percent of the city's population, but only 15 percent of sworn officers. Hispanic-Americans are 33 percent of San Jose's population, but only 24 percent of sworn officers.
"We know that we can be doing a better job of outreach in our very diverse community, and I expect this is a department that is going to respond to this audit in a very positive way," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said.
The city council will take up the audit at a future meeting.