San Jose Police Officers Association, city reach tentative contract agreement

SAN JOSE (BCN)— The city of San Jose and the San Jose Police Officers Association have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract, city officials said Thursday, following a years-long dispute and a withering police force.
   
"Rebuilding the San Jose Police Department remains our top priority," San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement.
   
The new contract would award a $5,000 retention bonus this month to current officers, a 10 percent general wage increase in July, a 3.25 percent general wage increase and 2.75 percent Crisis Intervention Training pay in July 2018 and a 3 percent general wage increase and 1 percent increase to Crisis Intervention Training pay in July 2019.
   
"We have already begun to stem the tide of officers leaving the department, and with this contract, we'll now be in a much stronger position to aggressively recruit and retain more officers," Liccardo said.
   
"In addition, we've reached agreements with the POA on a number of other provisions that will allow us to significantly enhance the level and quality of services provided by our department," Liccardo said.
   
These pay increases are an attempt to keep police in the city rather than lose them to neighboring departments that pay more, a trend that city officials have noted in recent years.
   
"This contract represents an ongoing commitment by the SJPOA and the city to rebuild our police department and deliver the level of public safety services that San Jose residents deserve," SJPOA president Paul Kelly said in a statement.
   
"We are committed to recruiting and retaining as many officers as possible, and this contract is an extremely important step toward achieving that goal," Kelly said.
   
The contract would also include a "clawback" provision to recoup some of the training costs for recruits who leave for another law enforcement agency within five years of graduating from the San Jose police academy, agreements to ensure that civilians are performing civilian work and police officers are performing police work and to extend the length of officers' shift assignments from six months to a year.
   
"I have been extremely proud of our officers during these trying times, and they are among the hardest working officers in the country," San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia said in a statement.
   
"This signifies the great support that Mayor Liccardo and Council have for our men and women," Garcia said. "Our goal has been to once again be the safest city in the country, and the steps taken recently by our city leaders will establish the foundation to achieve this benchmark."
   
The agreement will be presented to the police officers association membership and then brought to City Council next month for final adoption, city officials said.
   
If approved, the agreement would be retroactively effective Jan. 1 through June 30, 2020. The association's previous contract expired on Dec. 31.
   
In June 2012, voters passed Measure B to make changes to city employee pension plans, leading labor unions like the SJPOA to file lawsuits.
   
In December 2013, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge ruled against some parts of the measure, saying the city was not allowed to increase employee pension contributions and cut contracted cost-of-living increases, but could lower employee pay for retirement plans.
   
"I'm deeply grateful for the leadership and the effort from everyone involved in these negotiations," San Jose City Manager Norberto Duenas said in a statement.
   
"We have achieved outstanding progress to solve one of our most pressing priorities for community safety, and I'm very pleased that we're on the right track to meet mutual goals in partnership with our officers," Duenas said.

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