San Jose, a city of around 1,100,000 residents, is now down to only 806 police officers.
As of early October, the department is facing at least six resignations a month with only 12 new recruits a month to take their places. Officers have been resigning in the hopes of finding better benefits and cheaper housing in other counties and departments. With less than 850 officers, mandatory overtime has been put in place to cover empty staffing spaces.
Mandatory overtime requires officers to work extra hours so that the department can meet minimum staffing levels. One overtime shift is 10 hours, on top of the 40 regular hours for the week.
The department has been spread so thin that staffing spots for local school resource officers have been turning up empty. In an attempt to fix this issue, pay for resource officer jobs was raised to $55 an hour. Security and traffic jobs, such as Sharks games at the SAP center have also been deserted. Unfortunately, officers would be working these shifts on top of their mandated 50 hour work weeks.
“This is straining officers who are already working additional assignments to supplement special operations and other specialized units,” said Steven Valentine, a San Jose officer. “We have as a department worked with low staffing in relation to the city’s population. Now we are just being asked to do a whole lot more with a lot less.”
The shortage of police could negatively impact the San Jose community. For example, if you were to get in a car crash with no major injuries, and an armed robbery occurred at the exact same time across town, police would focus on the robbery.
It’s possible to get an officer on scene if the department is too busy with calls of greater urgency. This is known as the priority of a call, and there are four levels of service calls: Over 63 percent of Branham students strongly agreed that it was important for them to have officer on scene of an emergency within 20 minutes.
“The response time depends on the priority of the call, with imminent danger to life or property being the highest priority,” explains the San Jose Police department’s official website.
Police officers carry the burden of so many responsibilities citizens take for granted. Without more officers, traffic control, event security, school security, and general keeping the peace are all jobs police officers are ultimately responsible for and without more officers none of these jobs can be done.