Public safety has been an issue of much discussion and debate in this campaign, and I hear about the real human cost of this situation every day. So I want to take a moment to thank our cops for doing the best they can with the resources they have. Down over 400 police officers the past few years and working mandatory overtime, the remaining San Jose Police Officers have gone above and beyond to keep our neighborhoods safe.
When I left the City Council about 6 years ago, we had nearly 1400 police officers. Today we have 889 who can patrol our neighborhoods and we’re seeing a crime rate that is higher than the state and national average, according to the City Auditor. During that time we experienced a terrible recession that created huge budget challenges. The current mayor and council majority choose to handle the situation by pursuing a high-risk pension reform measure that radically reduced pay and benefit packages to city employees–especially cops and firefighters–significantly below those of our neighboring cities. As a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, we weathered the same recession, but took a different approach. We worked collaboratively with our employees, who gave up $225 million in pay over three years. We didn’t lose employees and today we even have a small budget surplus thanks to their sacrifice. Meanwhile, hundreds of San Jose police officers have resigned and gone to other cities where they can make as much as 35% more doing the exact same job. Given their personal economic realities, it’s hard to blame them.
To reduce crime I have a three point plan to bring back neighborhood police patrols, restore gang and burglary prevention programs, and, bring residents, schools, and businesses closer together. (Seewww.davecortese.com for more information.) To do this, we must hire more police officers. The current city budget has funding for 140 more police officers, but with such a dramatic difference in benefits with our surrounding cities, the City has not been able to fill them. And without doing something different, I don’t see this changing anytime soon. We need to sit down with our employees again to find a solution that works for employees within what the City can afford.
I’ll need your help to bring this spirit of collaboration back to City Hall. It’s time for a change. Please click below to contribute or volunteer as we spread of message of making San Jose the Safest Big City in America again.
Thank you for your consideration. I encourage you to thank a cop next time you see one.