The City of San Jose, California may not have declared bankruptcy like Stockton and San Bernardino, but the financially troubled city is having huge problems keeping its police department staffed.
According to the San Jose Mercury News:
At first glance, a City Hall plan to add 200 officers over four years sounds like salvation for a depleted San Jose Police Department that dresses fewer than a thousand cops to fight rising crime in a city of nearly 1 million.
But San Jose might struggle to maintain the current number of street cops even with the additional positions, according to an analysis by this newspaper. If current trends continue, the number of officers leaving SJPD could well outnumber the prospective new cops the department hires.
“It’s a difficult time for us,” acting Chief Larry Esquivel said in an interview. “We’re always triaging. I know the city wants stability. Our community needs it.”
In 2011 and 2012, an average of at least 100 officers each year retired or left for other law enforcement agencies, and until the graduation this past spring of the first San Jose police academy in three years, there was scant relief.
To date this year, 75 officers have either retired or resigned, and that is expected to increase. Even with the spring academy of 41 officers hitting the streets now — current academy recruits won’t be ready for duty until winter 2014 — and a smattering of lateral hires, the department will likely have a net loss of more than two dozen sworn staff by year’s end.
Like San Jose, bankrupt Stockton experienced a mass exodus of police officers resulting in a nasty spike in crime.
San Bernardino is the the same boat, with cuts to the Police Department resulting in the loss of over 100 police officers.
This has been the equivalent of reducing the San Bernardino Police Department’s strength by more than 30% in the last year as crime rises.
Critics often complain that cities spend too much on public safety, but that’s the main function of city government – keeping the people it represents safe.
When cities fails to properly fund and staff their police agencies, officers will naturally look for work with other departments that appreciate their service and sacrifice.
Sadly, its law abiding residents who pay the real price when this happens as criminals are typically emboldened when there are not enough police officers to keep a city safe.