SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — A “mass exodus” of sworn police officers is happening at the San Jose Police Department, according to union representatives. More than 200 officers have left San Jose’s police force since January of 2021, and 122 more plan on resigning within the next two years, according to the San Jose Police Officers Association.

A recent SJPOA member survey found that the “exodus” will continue to worsen over the next three years, the union said Wednesday.

“Some San Jose leaders are pulling the wool over our residents’ eyes, talking about foot patrols and community policing while not clearly understanding that the police department is held together with duct tape and overtime,” union president Sean Pritchard said.

“With over 20-minute response times to 911 calls; detective caseloads that are unmanageable; severe narcotics, traffic and gang unit cuts, and token community policing, something must be done,” Pritchard said. “Our department is flatlining, and we need our leaders to act now to resuscitate the SJPD.”

The union blamed “some city politicians” for causing the police force’s ranks to plummet. Instead of pointing fingers, city leaders need to look in the mirror, SJPOA wrote.

Earlier this year, Mayor Sam Liccardo criticized a handful of officers who were either arrested or placed on administrative leave for improper conduct.

One officer was arrested for masturbating in front of a crime victim inside her home. Another officer showed up to a kidnapping crime scene drunk, and a third officer was arrested following a DUI crash. Liccardo said the slew of scandals showed “a drumbeat of serious transgressions by young officers in SJPD.”

On Wednesday, the mayor rebuffed the union’s claims. 

Liccardo said, “A San Jose Police officer’s average annual salary, including overtime, exceeds $189,000, the third highest among the Bay Area’s 17 largest police departments. That’s why we have been successful in expanding SJPD’s ranks by more than 220 officers since 2017, and we have the lowest vacancy rate (2.6%) in a decade. The police union is doing its job advocating for its members amid contract negotiations, but it’s the city’s job to stand up for our residents, and to attract and retain officers, with good wages without capitulating to union demands that our taxpayers cannot afford – as we have seen happen before.”

The mayor’s office released the following city statistics on hiring and salaries for SJPD:

  • The average pay of an employee represented by the SJPOA is $189,200 (including non-pensionable pays, POST and overtime), the highest of any union in the City.
  • Of the 17 cities surveyed, the San José Police Department has the third highest total pay.
  • Since 2021, the City of San José has hired 208 officers, resulting in an extremely low vacancy rate of 2.56%, or 30 sworn positions out of 1,173 budgeted sworn positions. This includes 20 new police officers that were added as of July 1 as part of the 2022-2023 Adopted Budget.
  • The budget for Police Department staffing (sworn and non-sworn) has increased by 50% from 2014-2015 to 2022-2023, from $303 million to $451 million.