Pete Constant's Re-hire Proposal Falls Short
JIM UNLAND is president of the San Jose Police Officers Association and a Sergeant in the San Jose Police Department
Councilmember Pete Constant has taken time from defending sugary drinks to join Mayor Reed and fellow mayoral aspirant Sam Liccardo to propose his own police-staffing plan. I am not well read on the qualifications for running for Mayor but it looks like writing a memorandum on police staffing is one of them.
Pete wants everyone to know that he supports Reed's, and his Mayoral rival Sam's, call for hiring an additional 200 officers but acknowledges it will be difficult. To bolster his case, he references the Acting Police Chief in his memorandum, "Our police chief has told us there is a maximum throughput capacity, and that even reaching this capacity with the financial resources we have, we will struggle to add any meaningful number of new officers to the streets."
I've written about Reed and Liccardo's politically motivated, unrealistic and disingenuous plan, so to be fair, I want to take a look at Pete Constant’s latest idea. His memorandum is titled "Incentive Program for SJPD Re-Hires and Lateral Hires". What’s amazing about Pete's memo is that it demonstrates an incredibly high level of ignorance as to the consequences of the City's 2nd Tier pension plan that he helped craft and vote for.
Pete wants to provide a "substantial" signing bonus for SJPD officers who resigned and want to return to SJPD. He also wants to provide a signing bonus (he didn't use the word "substantial" on this one) to lateral police officers that choose to come work for the SJPD.
Pete pointed out that "... we also know that several officers have returned to the SJPD." Just a few weeks ago, I asked the Department how many of the nearly 170 or so officers who had recently resigned had come back to work for the SJPD. The answer was less than 10.
Less than 10. That was before the 2nd Tier pension plan was implemented. Many don't know it, but Pete fancies himself to be quite the pension expert. Pete travels the country on the taxpayer’s dime attending conferences so that he can pretend to be the resident expert on San Jose’s pension plan. That's why it’s so interesting that Pete never once mentions the 2nd Tier pension plan in his memo. For that matter neither did the memorandum from Reed and Liccardo. It is almost pathological the way they are all able to ignore the policy decisions they supported and the votes they took that are responsible for our inability to attract laterals and re-hires and retain existing officers. It will also be the reason we will soon see the resignations of our newest officers.
Pete should know that any laterals or re-hires that choose to come work for the SJPD will automatically be enrolled in the 2nd Tier pension plan. It is a pension plan so uncompetitive and risky that even Cheiron, the independent actuarial firm retained by the retirement board, wrote in a report going to the retirement board that, "As a result, upon re-hire, a member may suffer a significant reduction in the value of their retirement benefit." and "With potentially significant reductions in the value of benefits upon re-hire, what communication should be provided to the member before they accept employment and who should provide it?" That is government-speak that says somebody better make sure any re-hire or lateral fully understands what a raw deal they will get when they don the SJPD uniform.
Maybe Pete would pay more attention to the 2nd Tier pension plan if he had been enrolled in it when he says he was injured on the job. Under the new restrictions placed on the eligibility to receive a disability pension, Pete would not have qualified for the very disability pension he has been receiving for so many years now.
Who are these people and what makes them think they have the character, the morals and the integrity to lead a City of a million people?
There is one last aspect of Pete's proposal that must be exposed. If someone left the San Jose Police Department and decided to come back, that person will receive a "substantial" signing bonus. How large a bonus? According to Pete's memo, "...reflecting up to 50% of the savings realized by not putting a new hire through training, e.g., police academy, in-house academy, and the full field-training program." It has been estimated that it costs the City approximately $170,000 per officer to take them from the point of recruiting them to apply all the way through the FTO process. Up to 50% equals $85,000 dollars, not a small amount of money.
Keep in mind this is only for San Jose Police re-hires "...who left the SJPD between January 1, 2012 and August 30, 2013". So if you are one of the less than 10 officers who left and have already returned, tough break. Even more controversial, if you are a San Jose officer who never left, who continues to work here for 10% less pay, limited time off and an ever increasing stressful environment, well, you don't get anything either.
The great ideas just keep on coming. Thanks Pete.