San Jose's Understaffed Police Department

By Ed Rast

Did you know that San Jose in 2005 had the lowest ratios of sworn and civilian police per resident of the 23 U.S. cities with populations between 500,000 and 1 million?

At the time, San Jose had only 1.48 sworn officers and 0.40 civilian staff per 1,000 residents while the average of those 23 large cities was 2.64 sworn officers and 0.72 civilian staff per 1,000 residents.

Mayor Gonzales in his 2006-2007 budget message directed the San Jose Police Department to prepare a Five-Year Staffing Plan to close that gap and deliver to the community the high-quality, innovative, and efficient police services we have come to expect.

It was estimated in 2005 that 597.5 additional personnel were needed — including 332 sworn patrol officers, 146 sworn staff in investigative, preventative and administrative positions, and 119.5 civilian staff. But this would still not bring San Jose to the 23-city staffing average.

Unfortunately, San Jose’s sworn and civilian police ratios have only gotten worse. To date, the City has added only 40 new staff of the 597 proposed in the five-year plan. A proposed addition of 25 officers in FY 2009-10 went unfunded. Meanwhile, our population continues to grow, and the police workload right along with it.

SJPD’s understaffing problems began with an economic downturn in 2001 and continued through eight straight years of budget deficits. For four of those years, there were no staffing increases to offset increases in population, development, service calls and administrative workload.

Officers were shifted from proactive prevention activities and community policing to primarily reactive Patrol Division calls for service. Limited investigative personnel gave priority to crimes against persons.

This shift in priorities resulted in significant increases in auto theft (111%) and burglary ( 52%) from 2000-2005. Increasing property crimes — as predicted — jeopardized San Jose’s “Safest Big City in America” status.

Staffing reductions in 2005 nearly brought the SJPD back to 1998 levels (1,343). But between 1998 and 2005, San Jose’s population grew 10% to 910,528. That’s an increase equal to an entire council district.

As estimated by the California Department of Finance, San Jose’s population increased 10.6% (or 111,949 residents) from 894,943 in the 2000 census to 1,006,892 in January of 2008 — two years ahead of an estimate by the Association of Bay Area Governments.

The long and the short of the story is this: We need more police, and we need them now.

Many residents do not understand how adding new officers, staff and improved technology like a proposed computerized records system as well as increasing — not decreasing — community policing activities can help our understaffed police department prevent, investigate, and solve crimes.

If you’d like to get a better idea for yourself, have a look at SJPD’s proposed Five-Year Staffing Plan for 2007-12. Police and staff comparison charts can be found in graphics 9 and 10 (or pdf pages 16-17).

Next week, we’ll compare San Jose’s police staffing and crime rates to local cities. Enjoy the summer with your family and friends.

What do you think?

EDITOR'S NOTE:

It's been a month since we opened our doors here at Protect San Jose, and we'd like to hear what you think about the site so far. What do you like? What do you dislike? What could use improvement? How should we improve it?

It's an open forum, so speak your mind. But remember the ground rules: keep it brief and keep it clean. The floor is yours...

Fourth of July Safety Tips

As we begin the holiday weekend, we wanted to take a moment to remind you to have fun and stay safe out there. The Fourth of July is an exciting day all across America, with sun-baked parades and barbeques giving way to night skies lit up by fireworks. But it only takes one careless moment to spoil a good time.

With that in mind, the San Jose Police Department has released their tips for a safe and happy Independence Day celebration. We've included them here, along with the original press release.

Stay safe, and have a happy 4th!

City of San José Welcomes July 4th with Caution
Residents Urged to Celebrate Safely

The City of San José welcomes this upcoming July 4th on Saturday by encouraging safe celebrations and reminding residents that all fireworks are illegal in San José. The only legal use of fireworks allowed in the City is for a “pyrotechnic display,” operated by a Licensed Pyrotechnician, with a City Permit.

“We’re increasing our outreach to make certain San José residents understand not only that fireworks are illegal but why they are illegal,” says Fire Chief, Darryl Von Raesfeld. “This ban was added to the municipal code in the interest of public safety. Fireworks cause hundreds of severe injuries in the United States and ignite thousands of fires in California every year. With our current drought conditions the potential for a major fire incident is incredibly high.”

For many residents fireworks are considered an integral part of July 4th celebrations, along with other traditional community festivities. While fireworks are suitable for large scale events, they must be used under carefully controlled conditions. Groups planning to host a ‘pyrotechnic display’ should contact the Fire Prevention Bureau for permits with the understanding that only fully professional displays under very strict safety regulations will be permitted.

When most residents think of fireworks they think of large bottle rockets, roman candles, and firecrackers. However, the ban includes the popular ‘sparklers,’ usually reserved for younger children.

“Sparklers can reach over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit,” says San José Fire Marshal & Deputy Fire Chief, David Schoonover. “They account for 50% of fireworks-related injuries to children under age five and 10% of fireworks-related injuries overall.” For residents who’d like to observe the tradition, ‘snappers’ and ‘champagne party poppers’ are not considered fireworks and deemed legal for use in San José.

The penalty for violating the fireworks ban is stiff. Any individual who possesses, stores, sells, or uses any materials deemed fireworks, is in violation of the law and subject to arrest. Violation of these laws can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and possible jail time according to California Fire Code (CFC 7802.3) and the San José Municipal Code (SJMC 17.12.730). For more information on the laws, regulations and rules regarding fireworks in the City of San José call the Fire Prevention Bureau at (408) 535-7750.


Click on the arrow in the upper right corner to go to full screen mode.

About Time

EDITOR'S NOTE:

Regular readers of this blog will remember Monday’s post from SJPOA President Bobby Lopez defending Lieutenant Jose Salcido from attacks on his character as he ponders a campaign for Santa Clara County Sheriff. Mr. Lopez pointed to Lt. Salcido’s lifetime of work keeping our streets and neighborhoods safe and his strong ties to the community as reasons why he deserved a promotion.

Well, it looks like Mayor Reed was paying attention... But seriously, we'll repeat what Mr. Lopez wrote earlier: Lt. Salcido is a good man and deserves recognition for his years of public service. Let’s hope the Mayor and others listen to him.

UPDATE:

The Mayor's office finally got around to posting the official press release on the web. You can read it here for yourself. (Click on the arrow in the upper right corner to go to full-screen mode.)

Let's Conversate

By Bobby Lopez

When Sean Webby first called me yesterday for a comment on a story for today’s Mercury News, my initial reaction was: This must be a publicity stunt.

You see, Raj Jayadev was back at City Hall, holding a rally and calling for meetings with Mayor Reed, councilmembers, Chief Davis, and the SJPOA to have an open dialogue about community concerns with police and our union.

It makes sense that Mr. Jayadev would request a meeting by using a microphone instead of a cell phone. After all, he CC’d the mayor and the entire city council on an email he sent to me on June 4th to request just such a meeting. He also posted it on San Jose Inside as well as this website before I’d even had a chance to respond. (See comments here.)

Of course, if he wanted to sit down, he could’ve just called me. That’s what Skyler Porras of the ACLU did several weeks ago. I ended up meeting with Ms. Porras, and we had a productive conversation, even though we don’t see eye to eye on everything.

In my mind, there’s a pattern developing. Remember, Mr. Jayadev’s comments at the City Council meeting on May 5th, which were featured in our now-infamous YouTube video? At that meeting, he used the vague notion of a “street response” as a political threat to intimidate the council into judging arrest data before an independent analysis could happen. I think he believed protests would not reflect well on politicians at election time and the council would indeed feel threatened.

In another case, just a week before that council meeting, Mr. Jayadev walked off the Public Intoxication Task Force in protest. This was an interesting move because he was among the most vocal community members who called for the mayor to create such a task force.

These were the thoughts running through my mind when Mr. Webby called. I got ticked off and said I wouldn’t meet with Mr. Jayadev.

But after I hung up, I remembered my email response to Mr. Jayadev’s request for a meeting almost a month ago. I told him exactly what I later told Ms. Porras: I have an open door policy, and I’ll meet with anyone who wants to talk.

So I called Mr. Webby back and said I would meet even though, given Mr. Jayadev’s track record, I’m skeptical that he wants to engage in a real dialogue.

I’m used to working with all kinds of people, even difficult personalities. I’ll be interested to see if Mr. Jayadev walks out of our meeting to call a press conference if we disagree. What do you think?

Bobby Lopez is President of the San Jose Police Officers' Association.

Dollars and Sense

By Ed Rast

Did you know that the San Jose budget is one of the most perplexing documents in the world?

Administrations of different cities use significantly different but easily understood language, performance metrics, and comparisons in documents presented to their Council as the basis for final budget decisions. The idea being that the average citizen shouldn’t have too much trouble following the flow of money from revenue to expenditure in their city’s budget documents.

Budget documents prepared by San Jose city staff omit important revenue, staffing, and expenditure details. Performance information is not compared to other cities with regard to population or geography. This makes it hard for both the City Council and residents to understand the difficult decisions faced by the nation’s 10th largest city in its 8th consecutive year of deficits. What this all means is that San Jose’s budget is exceedingly difficult to understand, even for CPA’s and MBA’s.

Let’s take a look at the budgets for three California cities so you can get a better idea...

Los Angeles is California’s largest city with a population of 3.8 million and the second-largest police force in the United States. It’s budget contains detailed information on revenue, staffing, expenditures, and performance:

• Go to the City of Los Angeles Proposed Budget 2009-2010 and flip through the pages concerned with police funding: p. 37, 41, 143-146.

• While you’re on page 41, have a look at the simple math: police operations ($1.2 billion) + pensions & benefits = $ 1,98 billion. Now go to pages 143-146 and read through the Police Department budget, complete with sources of funds, expenditures, and cost programs.

• Still with me? Okay. Open up the Los Angeles Blue Book 2008-09. This budget addendum is a detail of departmental programs. Flip to the page 507 to read about the Police Department’s indicators of workload. Here, you’ll find hard numbers of crimes, cases, violations, and investigations taken on by the LAPD since 2002-03.

• You can complete your tour with the Blue Book 2009-10. Simple charts and graphs on pages 525-528 (pdf pages 55-58) compare the 2009-10 proposed police budget to the actual 2008-09 budget as well as valuable metrics for technological and operational support. Pages 525-555 (pdf pages 55-85) detail the entire police budget all the way down to cabinet makers (p. 548).

Sunnyvale is the second-largest city in Santa Clara County with a population of 137,538 and is internationally recognized for its comprehensive approach to managing performance budgeting outcomes.

The U.S. Office of Management and Budget said Sunnyvale is “the single best example of a comprehensive approach to performance measurement in the United States... allocating funding for tasks rather than for personnel, equipment, and supplies, with quantified objectives that are expected to be achieved with the funding." For examples, see the following documents:

Operating Budget Guide: A glossary of terms, which comes in rather handy.

Sunnyvale 2009-10 Recommended Budget and Resource Allocation Plan

General Fund Revenues by Source: See pages 11-13 for police and fire sources.

Law Enforcement Goals, Policies and Action Statements: See pdf pages 1-6.

I wish things were that clear in our neck of the woods...

San Jose is California’s 4th largest city with a population of right around 1 million (or 939,890, according to census data from 2007). We have just risen to the status of 2nd Safest Large City in the U.S. (pop 500,000+) with lowest police officer per resident ratio (1.48) of 23 cities with populations from 500K-1M.

Yet here are the documents our leaders use to determine the city budget:

San Jose Proposed Operating Budget 2009-10

Public Safety Budget and Performance Metrics: See pdf pages 3, 4, 10-16 and 53-76.

With a mess like this to sort through, is it any wonder the City Council has such a difficult time balancing the budget?

Cheap Shot

By Bobby Lopez

A recent posting on another website is the perfect example of the need for a place where we can speak our minds.

Someone is attempting to smear Lieutenant Jose Salcido just in time for his 2010 campaign for Sheriff to get underway. Lt. Salcido has not yet committed to running, but a deputy named Joe Charvez has stepped into the race to throw around baseless accusations about Salcido.

As I write this, I hold in my hand a decision by The Honorable James Emerson stating that Lt. Salcido committed no civil wrongdoing. The fact is that no criminal action has ever been taken because the investigation was laughable and filled with bias.

They really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find Mr. Charvez, who has made the same accusations over the years with the obvious belief that if you repeat something enough people will believe it.

Who is Jose Salcido? First and foremost, he is an extremely religious and devoted family man who has worked and volunteered in the community for many years. He has worked for charities like Sacred Heart and been a major fundraiser in the community. The Hispanic community has acknowledged him for his years of tireless work as a citizen and a law enforcement leader. The Sheriff’s Department command staff have done nothing but place road blocks in his way as he reaches out to the community.

Lt. Salcido is currently President of the Central Coast Chapter of PORAC (Peace Officer Research Association of California). He sits on the PORAC Executive Committee and serves as the state Secretary. He was elected to all of those positions. That means almost 60,000 law enforcement officers trust Lt. Salcido! The article failed to mention that. I wonder why.

I truly believe that Lt. Salcido has suffered because of his union activity. While president of the DSA, he had to stand up to the Sheriff on many occasions, something that I’ve been told she does not forget. He demonstrated true leadership as President of the DSA and continues to shine at the state level. He has willingly provided help and advice to many of the union presidents in the area. I have known him for almost thirty years, and he is one of the most honorable men in public service.

And since I don’t want to be accused of not giving the full story, I’ll let you know that Lt. Salcido has been endorsed for Sheriff by the SJPOA.

Stay safe.

Bobby Lopez is President of the San Jose Police Officers' Association.

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