Reed/Liccardo Staffing Plan Does Not Add Up
JIM UNLAND is president of the San Jose Police Officers Association and a Sergeant in the San Jose Police Department.
Recently, I wrote about the “Police Staffing Restoration Strategy” memorandum authored by Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilmember Sam Liccardo. I focused on the motive for the memorandum (Sam wants to be Mayor) and the financial games they premise their “plan” to restore the 10% pay cut officers have taken. Today I’ll take a closer look at the staffing goals Reed and Liccardo throw about and their failure to understand why their police officer retention plan doesn’t add up.
The San Jose Police Department is currently budgeted for 1109 positions including recruits in the academy. This is down from 1400 a short 5-years ago. Currently, there are 40 recruits in the academy with an expected graduation date of September 27, 2013. Upon graduation they enter a 4 to 5 month long field training program (FTO). After they complete FTO, they become probationary officers. Another academy class is expected to begin in mid-October of 2013 with a maximum capacity of 60
Instead of exerting leadership to address San Jose’s rising crime rate Reed and Liccardo propose to strategize at a City Council Study Session about setting a goal of restoring staffing to1250 officers within four years. I've done some number crunching to see if it can be done.
The good news is that it could be done within three years not four. The bad news is that one would have to accept absurdly ridiculous assumptions that are about as likely as the city offering POA a 20% pay raise.
Here are the best-case assumptions needed for the Reed/Liccardo “Restoration Strategy” to not be the laughingstock that it is. Please understand that when I say best case, I mean not a chance in Hell.
The Department will hire 120 recruits each year and 100 of them will successfully complete the training and become street ready officers.
None of these 100 new-hires will resign during the four-year restoration period.
No veteran officers will resign during the four-year restoration period.
No veteran officers will retire during the four-year restoration period.
Under this fantasy, the Department would reach 1243 street ready cops by March 2016 and 1293 by September 2016.
So let's move from fantasyland to reality. In 2011 we lost over 100 officers to resignations and retirements. In 2012, we again lost over 100 officers to resignations and retirements. In the first 8 months of this year we have already lost 70 officers, 45 officers to resignations and 25 to retirements. It is within reason to predict a third straight year of 100+ officers walking out the door.
So let’s try this exercise again. This time we will include 100 officers departing each year to the assumptions used from the fantasyland example.
We hire 100 street ready officers a year and we lose 100 street ready officers a year. This is my kind of math. Can you see the problem? If 100 recruits make it to street ready status and we lose 100 street ready officers to resignations and retirements, it’s a wash. Thus, it’s folly to think the Reed/Liccardo 1250 number is credible. It’s not.
Some might argue that officer resignations can’t possibly continue to outpace retirements at a 2 to 1 ratio. Assuming that’s true, our retirement eligible numbers will rise starting in 2015. Here is a chart of retirement eligible street ready officers.
And now for another dose of reality; both of the above scenarios assumed that the 100 new-hires per year will stay. They won’t. They will all become San Jose police officers under Reed and Liccardo’s 2nd Tier unvested pension plan. It is the worst police pension plan in the State and is so wrought with financial pitfalls that the newly hired officers will be forced to leave. So let’s look at a worse-case scenario. We continue to lose 100 officers to resignations and retirements AND we lose 50 newly hired officers each year.
1003 street ready officers
1053 street ready officers
1003 street ready officers
903 street ready officers
803 street ready officers
You can see that Reed and Liccardo's 1250 staffing number is a fictitious framework for failure.
There is another aspect of their memorandum that bothers me. It is the idea that restoring the 10% pay cut is the answer to stopping the resignations. While it might help reduce the exodus of current Tier 1 officers, the restoration will not have any effect on the newly-hired Tier 2 officers. Right now, the key to retaining these employees is not tied to salary; it is offering them a competitive, financially secure, vested pension plan.
As long as the City of San Jose insists on providing the worst police pension in the State, we will serve as a recruitment and training ground for other agencies. Unfortunately, we will have to lose one if not two academy classes to resignations before Reed, Liccardo, Nguyen, Constant, Oliverio, Herrera and Khamis realize what a disastrous mistake they have made.