SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - Some San Jose police officers have taken to sleeping in RVs, parked near the station because mandatory overtime means they can't always make it home.
The department is struggling to cover the necessary shifts, which means the officers are struggling to find places to get some rest.
There are a lot of RVs parked at the police station and other officers have been known to sleep in their cars.
The trouble, there are too many shifts to be filled, and there's often not enough time for officers to make it home in between them.
Right now the department is so short staffed that they have to fill 348 overtime shifts each week.
Again, the chief plans to go before the City Council to address the problem, on Tuesday.
Some officers live in places like Manteca and Tracy. Others live closer, but only have three or four hours in between shifts.
“These officers should be sleeping in their own beds. They should be waking up and seeing their kids and seeing the family and that's not happening, and it's not happening because we are absolutely at an emergency state when it comes to staffing,” said Paul Kelly, president of the San Jose Police Officer’s Association.
SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia could shift 47 officers from various departments back out to patrol.
“There have been days when we've had to hold over at least 20 officers from dayshift onto the next shift. You can't treat your employees that way. You can't continue that. It’s unsustainable,” said Garcia.
The Mayor agrees. He calls the RV situation, “shameful” and says it clearly represents the bigger problem of staffing.
“Until we can solve the hiring and recruiting problem and that's going to require passage of measure F; until we can do that, we're going to continue to rely on Band-Aids,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.
Until then, the mandatory overtime will continue to take its toll on officers like Mark Alvares.
“You know when your kid looks at you and goes, ‘Dad do you have to work overtime or are you going to stay home with us?’ It's heartbreaking,” said Officer Alvares.
He says he and other officers simply can't keep this up. They're exhausted all the time.
“All I know is that something's got to give before we start getting in accidents because we're falling asleep at the wheel, or somebody gets hurt because they weren't paying attention,” said Alvares.