San Jose Police Staffing Could Fall to 30-Year Low In Midst of Retirement Surge, Pension Uncertainty

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A new report reveals that the number of police officers employed by the San Jose Police Department could soon drop below 1,000 as it continues to lose policemen and women.

If the Department loses about 50 more officers, which is anticipated to happen by next July, its employment levels will drop to depths not seen in 30 years.

The staffing problems have been attributed to uncertainty surrounding pension benefits and a surge in retirements.

From the Mercury News:

The number of San Jose police officers will fall to the lowest in three decades if current trends continue unabated, and even that projection hinges on an optimistic view of the agency’s ability to retain officers and recruit new blood, according to a new report.

A department report produced for Tuesday’s City Council meeting estimates that with current attrition and hiring, the number of sworn staff will drop from the current 1,010 down to 988 by July, which would mark the first time since 1985 that the force steadily fielded fewer than 1,000 officers. That same model projects a sworn staff of 949 by July 2017.


Retention “continues to be a major challenge in maintaining current staffing levels,” states the report, which was signed by Chief Larry Esquivel and notes that the department has been challenged by a “lower qualified candidate pool.”

The chief’s report notes that the city set aside a $10 million reserve to bring the authorized number of police positions to 1,250. The department has not been able to meet its authorized staffing level since 2011 due to the aforementioned struggles with retention, with upward of 100 officers leaving each year from resignation or retirement for the past three years.

More from Mercury News on the reasons behind the staffing problem:

An array of factors have been cited in the steady departure of officers, including an anticipated retirement surge of Baby Boomer hires and ongoing legal battles over pension and disability reform between city leaders and the police union. Some gains have been made, including an 11-percent pay restoration, but other items such as a recovery of bilingual pay and a proposed part-time work plan for retirement-eligible officers are pending negotiation and approval.

The San Jose City Council received the report on Tuesday.


Photo by  Stefano Mortellaro via Flickr CC LIcense

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