Posted: 10:45 p.m. Monday, July 30, 2012

Pension reform leading to mass exodus of SJ police officers

San Jose police resignations
San Jose police resignations

SAN JOSE, Calif. —

The San Jose Police Department is looking for more than a few good men and women. In fact, it needs a lot of them.

The Bay Area's largest city is seeing a record number of resignations and retirements from the police force.

San Jose has long had a reputation of being one of the safest big cities in America.

But officers told KTVU that once the recent pension reform known as Measure B passed in June, it started the exodus from the department. The pension reform plan is scheduled to go into effect next year, but it is being challenged in court.

"This is the first time in San Jose Police Department history that we have resignations outpacing retirements," said Sgt. Jason Dwyer "That's very concerning to us."

The police department revealed 29 officers have already resigned this year compared to 19 officers retiring this year.

Police staffing has declined dramatically over the past ten years. Currently, the department has about 1,060 officers on the street.

Department officials said an academy is scheduled for this September and it is hoping for 50 new recruits.

But the police officers association believes many more resignations could come by the end of the year.

"But now I see violence going up. I see us unable to respond to basic calls, let alone violent calls. So it's tough right now in San Jose," said Sgt. Paul Kelly.

City Councilman Pete Constant wants the department to be more aggressive in recruiting and increase officer hiring by several hundred.

He also believes other local governments will have to face the same tough pension reforms creating a more even playing field for San Jose.

"As other agencies in the area look at their pensions systems and look at what they're going to do, all the way from local jurisdictions to the Calpers system, changes are going to be made and people are going to be facing the same thing in other jurisdictions," said Constant.

The city attorney is expecting a ruling on whether the lawsuits on Measure B will be heard in state or federal court in the next 60 days.

A decision isn't expected until at least next spring.

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