Time to Outsource Police?

From time to time I have talked about outsourcing certain city services to save money—so the city can use the money saved on core services we provide to the community. When I first introduced a pilot program for outsourcing park maintenance at the Rose Garden Park in 2007, the council (except for Mayor Reed) shrugged off my idea.  Now, the topic of how to provide services to San Jose residents with limited revenue is being discussed. For example, the city was able to open some of the pools that were due to be closed because the city outsourced to private organizations which are less costly. 

The City of San Jose and other cities have declining revenues and structural deficits. Most residents now understand that not every service from a city must be done by a person earning an unsustainable pension.

Last week on San Jose Inside, an anonymous blogger using the handle “Just a Lowly Police Officer” raised the question of outsourcing police to private security guards. First, I must say what a sad choice of a handle. I am thinking he/she was attempting to be sarcastic, but who knows? How can this person expect us to respect their vocation if they do not respect it? None of the many people I know that serve as San Jose police officers are lowly. By contrast they are all good people with integrity.

Actually, I have been asked this same question about outsourcing police services in person. People have asked “why don’t you outsource the police?”  My response is one of astonishment, because I think it shows a brutish lack of understanding. I ask them, “Are you serious? Do you really think that someone we recruit, background, vet, train, test and issue a gun to so they can protect and serve as a police officer is the same as a janitor? Do you really think that is the same level of qualification? The same level of risk? The same level of expertise?”  The answer to these questions is simply “no.” Even the notion is ridiculous. At this point the person who asks me the question realizes they asked a foolish question and they move on. 

It’s time to wake up, as we have reached a new level of fiscal austerity and there is no monetary candy falling from the sky. We have to make tough choices. So you can sit on the sidelines and whine about times of budget surplus or wake up to our current fiscal environment.

I do however support replacing desk jobs at the police station with civilians to allow more police on the street, as recommended in our city auditors report: http://www.sanjoseca.gov/auditor/AuditReports/1002/1002.pdf

I will be hosting the 4th Annual Safety Fair & Movie Night at our beautiful San Jose Municipal Rose Garden on Sept. 10 at 7pm. It will be an opportunity to show off the Rose Garden as the results will have been announced on San Jose’s ranking as America’s Best Rose Garden contest. It is also an opportunity to do something for Trace Elementary and help with raising money to fund school supplies for the 16 classrooms, library and theater that burned down.

Please consider attending and picnicking as we watch the fun family animated movie How to Train your Dragon. Voluntary contributions will accepted and there is no limit to what you can donate. Checks should be made out to Trace PTO (Parent Teacher Organization); cash donations will be accepted as well.

77 Comments

  1. In a way it almost seems as though we already do outsource the police department. Given the independence, power, and control of the POA it’s currently as if we’ve awarded the policing contract to “SJPD Inc.” and granted them a total monopoly.

  2. The City of Cupertino has no police department of its own. It contracts with the County Sheriff’s department. Do we really need 15 police chiefs in this county?
    I don’t think that Cupertino has its own fire department either. I’ll look at the Logo on the fire truck the next time that I see one.

  3. > In a way it almost seems as though we already do outsource the police department. Given the independence, power, and control of the POA it’s currently as if we’ve awarded the policing contract to “SJPD Inc.” and granted them a total monopoly.

    Brilliant insight, Galtie!

    As far as I know, police officers do not take an oath to “support and defend the city charter of San Jose.”

    Police officers are, objectively, “mercenaries”.

    It would clearly be in the interest of San Jose voters and taxpayers to negotiate periodic services contracts with either Acme Municipal Policing Services or AAA 24-Hour Professional Peace Officers Company. 

    (Think of the efficiencies and the ecomomies of scale if, say, eight or ten municipalities used the same private contractor).

    The usual suspects who will predictably think that “privatizing” police services is an unworkable idea should grab a thick Economics 101 textbook, whack themselves in the forehead, and repeat: “Monopolies exploit! Monopolies exploit!”

    And, yes, the POA IS a monopoly.

  4. Pier,
    Thanks for posting a link regarding this study. I looked at exhibit 9 and was shocked that the San Jose Police Department was dead last in the officer to citizen ratio of the 20 largest cities in the United States.

    I also looked at who put together the study and noticed that not one city council member was mentioned. As I have asked before, why do we need full time city council members, with bloated staffs? Other cities around us, who are doing very well, are doing it with part time council members. You stated “It’s time to wake up, as we have reached a new level of fiscal austerity and there is no monetary candy falling from the sky. We have to make tough choices.” Are you considering making council positions part time, thus saving taxpayers millions of dollars? Drastic times call for drastic measures. Please bring up this possibility with the mayor and your fellow council members at a council meeting. Perhaps someone can start the ball rolling on getting something on a ballot so we can vote on this. Is it true that council members get lifetime medical benefits after 8 years of service?

    Also, it would be nice if you could take time to answer some of the responses. You made reference to “lowly police officer” in your current blog, but you never gave him the courtesy of answering the very valid questions he posed to you last week.

    • Pierluigi,

      I think it is a good idea idea to have the city auditor independent of the elected officials. Thanks for posting the report and thanks for helping the school.

    • Yes, we have relatively few police officers per citizen.

      But, our police budget per citizen ratio is reasonably high. 

      Why?  We spend far more money per police officer than other major cities. 

      It keeps the police union happy, so that politicians can get the union endorsement and sound tough on crime- even while they are reducing sworn staffing levels.

      But no one wants to talk about that.

  5. Looks like we will have another bash city employees blog with today’s target POA which represents police officers

    Grey Davis and Legislature gave prison guards and highway patrol excessive pay and pensions and California cities voted the same for their police officers

    San Jose Council voted to give same pay and pensions as other California police officers while paying greater part of pensions cost so SJPD has less take home pay than most other PD’s

    Should San Jose pay less and lose trained police officers to other cities?

    Does someone have facts to prove SJPD pays more than other PD’s or are you targeting SJ POA because you are unhappy all California PD’s benefited from Grey Davis and Legislature giving prison guards and highway patrol excessive pay and pensions?

    It is a California statewide excessive government pay and pensions problem that needs California statewide reductions not just San Jose reductions or we will suffer

  6. “(Think of the efficiencies and the ecomomies of scale if, say, eight or ten municipalities used the same private contractor).”

    Also think about lawsuits, civil rights violations and problems of civilian police contractors – Blackwater has lots of unemployed contractors and would make you a deal you would regret for police services like New Orleans or Iraq

    • > Also think about lawsuits, civil rights violations and problems of civilian police contractors – Blackwater has lots of unemployed contractors and would make you a deal you would regret for police services like New Orleans or Iraq

      And how do you know that the POA would be any better then Blackwater?

      They’re both made up of human beings, and they both put their pants on one leg at a time.

      The performance of any security force is largely determined by its leadership and the standards it sets for discipline and conduct.

      I would be perfectly happy to have a COMPETENT, HONEST city government contract with Blackwater for municipal police services.

      I would be scared to death to have an Obama run, Chicago style city government colluding with a monopoly police union.

    • Dear Blackie:

      Since you quoted me, did you also follow my instructions and whack youself in the forehead with an Economics textbook?

      Did it have any noticeable effect?

      If not, try whacking harder.

        • > Oh I think you and Galt have been whacking way too much as it is.

          I’m not surprised that this may have been going on inside of your head, Manny.

          But it may be a bit of a stretch to call it thinking.

  7. I don’t know, PLO. Maybe you need to lay off the POA Kool Aid and go back to medical marijuana.

    Other local cities have, in effect, outsourced their police service and it’s worked out quite well and created substantial savings while enhancing, not compromising, public safety.

    Take a look in San Jose’s own back yard:
    Los Altos Hills, Cupertino and Saratoga have “outsourced” policing to the Sheriff’s department. The Sheriff also contracts with VTA and County Parks for law enforcement services. Monte Sereno combines with Los Gatos for Police services. Sunnyvale has gone one step better and combined it’s police and fire into a Department of Public Safety. Each of these are among the safest communities in the Bay Area.

    Rather than dismissing people who raise the idea of consolidation of a “brutish lack of understanding” perhaps police consolidation, on some level, an idea worth exploring.

    • The Sheriff’s department is smart. They police areas that are extremely high income and have extremely low crime rates. The Sheriff’s department through the county, over the past several years, has given given back to the city of San Jose and the San Jose Police Department, low income and crime ridden areas. San Jose has foolishly annexed many low income, high crime areas, from the county, which the county isn’t going to touch with a 10 foot pole. What jurisdiction do you propose to take over these areas we are now responsible for?

    • “Outsourcing” or contracting with the SCCSO for many parts of SJ would compromise public safety. While the SCCSO manages just fine in Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, and Saratoga they are NOT up to the task of East SJ and other “more challenging” areas. The communities you list do not even compare to what the SCCSO has managed. And if you think this is just a bias SJPD opinion, ask a Deputy next time you happen across one. They want nothing to do with our “worst” areas.

    • Oh the FUD that comes with this!  Seriously, you’re right on target.  But, to use a very non-PC phrase, safety officer rice bowls citywide would tumble.

  8. Maybe this message should be sent to the POA President.  I would like to hear his side of the story.  I am sure people know him.  Please encourage him to respond to this blog.  Thanks!

  9. Why always Police?  Why not include Fire.  Buck says organize a fire watch just like neighborhood watch.  First sign of smoke grab community extinguisher.  Maybe connect all neighbor hoses together.  Buck say maybe we outsource city manager to a succesful business owner.  Make all city council volunteer.  Buck says “Who got us in this mess to begin with?  Buck saw future in Los Angeles.  A safe town with proper police and fire bring business.  A city that taxes business out of business not using proper calculator.  Police losing many officers to attrition.  They no complain about that.  City wants to get to 1,200 officers soon.  Savings to city 40 million.  City keep taking property from county for police services and city services.  More people paying taxes still no increase in police or fire services with added responsibilty.  How may more millions to city budget does this add.  Maybe Pete C should decide what account to draw his check from.  Police and fire retirment or city council check.

    • Although lacking eloquence, the above comment holds the most water of anything I’ve read here thus far.

      The “Structural Deficit” we keep hearing about is Orwellian. Maybe someone should blog about City Manager Figone’s proposal to replenish the “Economic Uncertainty Fund”. How much is currently in the “San Jose Redevelopment Fund”? I know that when I have to budget my money between bills, food and my car loan, I never think, “I made an obligation to pay my bank, but I think I’ll buy a little more food this month and put the rest of what I should have paid in savings.”

      Pier, although this sparks up dialogue, I think it is a poor choice of topics. Would you go handing out leaflets at the shopping center off Monterey & Bernal telling everyone that they’re standing on what used to be Fairchild’s Superfund site?

      Sadly, this City will see the results of this sort of indiscretion sooner than later. Luckily, you’ll have people like myself to lean on.

      • Attached are the Redevelopment Agency’s financial reports for the month of
        March 2010. Following is a summary of key aspects of the reports:

        FINANCIAL STATEMENTS:

        MEMORANDUM
        The Fund Balance increased $13.1 million to $131.8 million
        Cash increased by a net amount of $4.3 million
        Revenues were $36.2 million
        Expenditures were $23.1 million

        http://www.sjredevelopment.org/Agendas2010/060810/2-2-a PSFSS Report 5-20-10.pdf

  10. Outsourcing the police in general is a rediculous idea. However, do we need off duty police officers watching construction crews and probably receiving overtime pay? Dow we need officers hired in similarly non-official duty scenarios through out the city? How much money could we save?These are the areas we need to seek outsourcing.
    Rosegarden resident

    • Rosegarden, do we need off-duty officers watching construction crews you ask.  Maybe…maybe not. However, if you get rid of these officers the city will save zero dollars.  The city doesn’t pay for these officers.  Correct me if I’m wrong anyone.

  11. Kevin,
    One small bit of information that seems to have escaped the public is that many selfless SJPD Officers VOLUNTEER at events held by groups in San Jose. If the City had asked SJPD for volunteers for the 4th of July, I know many of these fine men and women in blue would have gladly done it free of charge. Instead, they are being blamed for the lack of events. The truth is that the City makes it virtually impossible for events to take place here because the cost is outrageous!

    Last year, I was charged almost $300.00 just to hold a candle lit vigil for victims of violent crime at City Hall just because we used a microphone and speaker!

    • while the police may selflessly volunteer on occasion, I can say with certainty that they have NOT volunteered to serve at the fireworks show, and even if they were asked, it’s likely that the organizer wouldn’t have been able to use them anyhow, due to liability issues.  That’s a pretty big stretcher.

      Having to pay literally dozens of officers $42/hour and up on top of the outrageous permitting fees (I agree with you there!) in addition to losing sponsorship revenue is what drove the fireworks display away.

      • Untruth said, “while the police may selflessly volunteer on occasion, I can say with certainty that they have NOT volunteered to serve at the fireworks show, and even if they were asked, it’s likely that the organizer wouldn’t have been able to use them anyhow, due to liability issues.”

        Please provide us with more information on your claim.

        I know for a fact that many Police Officers donate their time to events and would like to know why the City didn’t even attempt to ask for volunteers this time. Event sponsors are responsible to carry Liability Insurance, NOT the City unless it is their event.

        • first things first.

          you guys rail on and on about how the CITY did not put on a fireworks display.  guess what, the CITY never did. 

          a private event company put the event on every year.  It was well publicized that the event company was having trouble finding funding for their event and SJPD has worked with this company for many, many years.  If SJPD had wanted to offer up their services, there would have been many opportunities for them to do so.  For the event promoter to ask for a donation of services that they’d previously paid for on multiple occasions is absurd.  and yes, the event producer has to carry liability insurance, and a great big liability is asking for police to act like police when they are actually civilians – ie, in their own time.  it’s like calling in the militia.  can you imagine if there had been a riot, or some problem that required police to pull their weapons – but they weren’t on the clock?  what a nightmare – who would be liable?  it’s a nice fantasy but not workable in the real world.

          The City likewise does NOT produce the Cinco de Mayo event.  The city is not in the event production business, they only dole out the permits.  Every single event that takes place on public property is put on by a seperate event producer, most of whom are non-profits.  this is why so many events are going under right now.  If you’d like to make a difference and get the fireworks back, start looking for sponsors at the 10K to 20K range and contact the event producer.

        • Untruth,
          The event sponsors of Cinco de Mayo owed the City MILLIONS of dollars and that “loan” was forgiven. How do you think Cinco de Mayo sponsors paid for Police this year? Or did they? Please post some kind of credible documentation supporting the event sponsors paying ALL fees including Police.

          Secondly, you are correct that private companies pay for fireworks etc. BUT it is the fees and the permits charged by THE CITY that has trashed events. Now, please explain to us all WHY the City publicly stated that they were CANCELING fireworks in DT IF they weren’t involved in the event?

        • you can see the amount of money given to each organization for public events through the office of cultural affairs website.  money is collected through a transit occupancy tax (TOT) that hotels charge and levied to non-profit event producer organizations.  each organization has to apply for grants and the OCA decides how much each org gets.  the information is on the OCA’s website.  you can see for yourself how much the

          I agree that permit fees – INCLUDING POLICE FEES – have trashed events.  We are absolutely on the same page there.  but private sponsorship and/or concessions fees/vendor fees are also in the toilet and this is the main revenue stream for most event producers of a very large scale.  It’s one thing for your city fees to go up by 10 thousand.  It’s another to lose a 25K or 30K sponsorship at the same time. 

          I have no idea what the status of the cinco de mayo is but I do see that it’s the American GI forum.  perhaps you should vent to them.  it’s not their fault that they can somehow afford their event when the 4th of july folks can not. 

          I know you’re such the expert because you had a gathering once for 300 people at city hall….but maybe you should open your ears and listen.

        • Untruth,
          “but maybe you should open your ears and listen.” I think you might want to take your own advice on this.

  12. We could probably save some money by contracting out security for specific events to private security firms.  I don’t see a real problem with having security guards at the 4th of July fireworks show, for example, instead of police officers.  Maybe it would save enough money that we could, you know, actually HAVE a 4th of July fireworks show again, for the first time since 2004?

  13. Having considerable experience in both the hiring of police recruits and the realities of the job, it’s mind-boggling to realize that some of you are serious about outsourcing police protection to private industry. Personally, I’d sooner outsource my proctology needs to Jiffy Lube.

    Releasing armed, legally empowered, imperfect human beings on the public is a proposition fraught with risk, and the proven method for reducing this risk is to carefully screen each police applicant, provide sound training to those selected, then safely put them to the test on the street. Of these three steps the selection process is critical as it is the first and best line of defense against a personal flaw that, though often subtle in the young, possesses in the long term the potential to do the most damage to the community. That flaw is poor character, and it comes to the police hiring process in mass, from neighborhoods good and bad, wearing faces of every color.

    We hire police officers with the expectation that they will make the job their career; in other words, 25 to 30 years filled with the inevitable challenges and disappointments of one’s personal life, the hazards and horrors that make up the worst parts of the job, all the while working day in and day out with a trusting and vulnerable public. We expect these officers to stand up to that trust everyday. No excuses. We expect their good character to shield them from weakness and temptation. Zero tolerance. We expect them to be honorable.

    We expect these things because courage and good character were, in the decades following WWII, determinedly turned into a cultural standard at SJPD. This was accomplished not by city leaders but by the officers themselves who, wanting something more for their budding profession, came together as the SJPOA and battled long and hard for the training and equipment that was all but nonexistent.

    I don’t begrudge anyone making an informed complaint about the wages and benefits paid their public servants, but I urge you to realize the value of men and women of your police department. The combination of skills and talents that make for a good police officer are unique (becoming rarer with each passing, pampered year), and when managed correctly those skills and talents can deliver an impressive level of safety and service, even to a community whose expectations are enormous, often contradictory, and ever-expanding.

    • > We hire police officers with the expectation that they will make the job their career; in other words, 25 to 30 years filled with the inevitable challenges and disappointments of one’s personal life, the hazards and horrors that make up the worst parts of the job, all the while working day in and day out with a trusting and vulnerable public. We expect these officers to stand up to that trust everyday. No excuses. We expect their good character to shield them from weakness and temptation. Zero tolerance.

      (Sniff, sniff.  I’m getting choked up.)

      > We expect them to be honorable.

      Oh, and to not work for a nickel less than $181,187 a year, or they’ll take a hike.

      [Note: According to the “Salary and Fringe Benefit Costs by Employee Unit & Fund for the 2010-2011 Base Budget (4/1/10)”, the Citywide Average Cost by Employee Unit for the 1362 FTEs in the San Jose Police Officers’ Association (POA) Employee Unit is: . . .

      $181,187 !!!!]

      • Host Organism,

        What a perfectly ridiculous reply. You mockingly feign sympathy in response to a description of true achievement: the hard-won establishment of a code of honor and integrity within the police department, something for which I conveyed nothing but pride. Apparently you have no experience with standing tall, nor do you seem capable of understanding how very unnatural it is to expect our fellow human beings, armed and empowered, to do the right thing even at the worst of times and under the most trying of circumstances. Honor and integrity at any police department represents the critical line that separates it from the likes of New Orleans PD, where, due to poor hiring practices, corruption, and a complete lack of integrity, the Justice Department now has a permanent home. The history of law enforcement in this and every other country has made clear the stakes, but feel free to continue to mock away and demonstrate your ignorance.

        As for your cherry-picked statistic, the one that so misrepresents the true picture, all I can say is I trust you don’t stoop to such reckless reporting when filing your taxes. Your statistic includes the salaries of hundreds of command and supervisorial staff, who make considerably more that do the officers to whom I referred, those out on the street taking the risks. I’m quite certain that, were you to bemoan the high salaries of a corporation’s leaders, you wouldn’t make use of averages inclusive of the wages paid janitors and production line employees.

  14. 3.3 Declaration of Surplus Construction Funds and Authorization of Fund Transfers and Disbursements for Expired Special Assessment Districts

    (b) Adopt the following FY 2009-10 Appropriation Ordinance and Funding Sources Resolution amendments in the General Fund:
    (1) Increase the revenue estimate for Transfers and Reimbursements by $4,496,200;
    (2) Increase the Economic Uncertainty Reserve by $3,533,814;

    Noes: Karla

    http://www.sanjoseca.gov/clerk/Agenda/20100525/20100525syn.pdf

    Yet Olverio is willing to can janitors and see decreased police and fire. Nice.

  15. You’ve hit the mark with the suggestion that some functions be assigned to civilians or security guards.  We really need to end the practice of police and fire sometimes earning $200,000 plus per year due to overtime. Especially when that overtime is for directing traffic or policing public events.

    But outsourcing all policing is wrongheaded. The police are extremely well-screened and well-trained. They are crucial to the community.
    I’d go further and say that I’d like to see us provide an even tighter connection between police and community. I see no reason to offer police jobs to anyone who lives outside San Jose, for example. In return, for jobs that require police, we owe them our respect and loyalty.

  16. Small suggestion.  The ranks in the Police Department go from officer to SGT.  Adding a new position as corporal would allow someone to get some supervisory experience and you could adjust the rations of SGTs ($46 per hour) to officers ($32 per hour) from the current 1 to 5 ratio.

    This has worked in other communities.  I’d got with 1 SGT and 1 CPL per 10 officers, which would allow for the same kind of supervision at less overall cost.

  17. Perhaps whoever gets the outsourced job from the police officers would like to deal with this fine young resident of San Jose. Who the hell is raising these little terrorists? From today’s Mercury:

    “San Jose teen arrested after threatening to use gang ties to kill police”

    A 16-year-old boy with a violent history and felony warrant threatened to use his Norteno gang associations to kill four San Jose police officers who arrested him Friday night at a North San Jose Costco store, according to police.

    The teen suspect, whose name was withheld by police because he is a juvenile, entered the warehouse in the 1700 block of Automation Way intending to burglarize it, according to police. Once inside, store security guards watched the teen steal items and leave without paying. Security guards detained the teen, placed him in handcuffs and phoned police.

    When officers arrived, the suspected gang member began throwing high kicks, elbows, knees and head butts at the officers and spitting in their eyes, according to police. Four officers suffered bruises, welts and soft tissue injuries.

    Once subdued, the teen promised to use his gang ties to kill the arresting officers. The teen was booked into Juvenile Hall on a variety of felony charges including gang enhancements.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_15498429?nclick_check=1

  18. Based on my quick scan of this morning’s Mercury News it looks as though we’ll be on the hook for yet another wrongful beatdown settlement. The POA won’t have to pay it. The taxpayers will. One advantage to having a private, contracted police force is that they would be strongly motivated to avoid such lawsuits. As it stands now, the POA figures that their servants the taxpayers can just pony up again. After all, we can afford it since we’re all dotcom millionaires, right?

  19. Police and Fire are hired to do a job and in return compensated very well.  If we had a volunteer force then the community should throw a parade to celebrate all the good deeds.  People choose to be a police officer and many, many, many, more compete to be fire fighters. No one is forced to take the job. The pay and benefits for fire and police is more then those in our military.  Please take a pay cut like all of us that have have done that are still employed. You appear greedy and if you made less we could then hire more police.

    • Annie you said, “Please take a pay cut like all of us that have have done that are still employed. You appear greedy and if you made less we could then hire more police.”

      WOW! You seem to be someone who thinks Police and Fire Fighters spend their time behind a desk and not putting their lives on the job everyday. Why don’t you train in one of those areas and see if you still feel the same way after you get shot at or burned/injured while fighting a fire. 

      I guess you aren’t aware that Police have been taking pay cuts all along and are doing more with less. Secondly, have you even bothered to look at the expenditures our Council makes on unnecessary things? Please review the budget and then re-think your position. You seem greatly misinformed on not only the cause of the budget mess but about who is actually the cause of the problem.

    • Annie,

      I’m sorry your union relented. Ours will not. SJPOA offers have been fair. We are not greedy. We are fairly compensated within our industry and it is an age old struggle that besets the SJPOA and CSJ. I am paid to live and DIE in my profession. You are likely not. That said, your grossly oversimplified solution is ridiculous.

      • Annie, get your head out of the sand.  Hire more police because others take a pay cut.  Come on be real.  This city is just trying to get themselves out of a hole that they dug by throwing money out the door during the good times.  They want to layoff police and fire and you think they are going to hire.  They don’t even have academies planned.  Please.

  20. John,

    It is a harsh cruel world out there, in case you haven’t noticed. Sometimes police are required to use force, and on occasion, mistakes are made. Before you pass judgement, based on the Murky News account, maybe you should allow the process in place to work itself out. Investigations are proceeding as we speak. Is that too much to ask?

    • You don’t really expect both sides of the story to actually be objectively and fairly presented with all the facts before casting judgement by Monday morning quarterbacks, probably the same ones who will whine the loudest when they need police service?

    • I haven’t “passed judgement”, Lowly Police Officer. And I WILL “allow the process in place to work itself out.” And when it finally DOES work itself out and I’m able to crow, “see, I told you so. Now we taxpayers have to pay this jackass 100 grand”, you and Steve will then respond, “Why are you complaining about something that happened a year and a half ago?”
      I’ve allowed the Phuong Ho process to “work itself out.” So far it’s worked out exactly as I predicted. He’s sueing the people of San Jose.- as I predicted he would.
      Do I blame the police for that incident? No. I blame the jackass Phuong Ho. I blame our idiotic immigration policies and our infatuation with “diversity” and our naive expectations of perfection from imperfect human beings doing a difficult job. I think Phuong Ho should be deported and never granted a visa to return to our country. But I fully expect that the people of San Jose will instead wind up writing a big fat check to the scumbag Phuong Ho and it pisses me off.
      I am to willing to abide by the “social contract” of accepting and forgiving the imperfect actions of a human police force in exchange for the protection and security that it affords. But too many in our society are willing to selfishly cash in on any opportunity to pick the deep pocket of a municipal government. And that very government, along with a complicit media, actually encourages them to do so. I’m tired of footing the bill and I’m looking for ways to reduce my exposure to this liability. Maybe outsourcing is a way of insulating ourselves from the risk. That’s what I was getting at.
      On the other hand, you’ll notice I referred to our police officers as IMPERFECT human beings. Not only does this mean that I’m willing to cut them slack when they make mistakes but it also means that I don’t see any reason to negotiate for their services any differently than I would any other group of people whom I wanted to hire to do a job for a reasonable price. It’s a two-edged sword. They can’t have it both ways- treated and paid as though they are superhuman but then able to hide behind the cover of being “only human” when things go wrong.
      Sorry to pick on the police so take everything I’ve said and double it for the fire department.

  21. Annie, Annie, Annie…If you want to know the truth, both SJPD & SJFD are among the lowest cost per citizen in California!  That is because of the fact the are the lowest staffed per a large city in the nation. Both departments do more than just respond to crimes and fires.  The city has been getting an incredible level of service for the amount of money.  Now if you want fire and police to get paid like the military for their work, maybe those in the private sector should also!  Remember there are Engineers, scientists, lawyers in the military as well getting paid far less than those in the private sector.  I also seem to remember that the Private sector created this economic crisis! Not fire and police!  As far as pay cuts, both departments have stepped up and offered concessions!  The City has not stepped up and bargained in good faith! The mayor and his cronies have pushed in the media that all they want is 10%, and in private (in closed door sessions) they want 17-22%!!!  Sunshine reform!? What a joke!!!  The mayor and his cronies have also spoken of the evil of Binding Arbritration, here’s a nifty fact>>>the last 2 fire contracts They City was the one that requested it.  Fire wanted to negatiate in good faith, the city declared impasse, mediatation was next, the city declared an impasse, binding arbritation was next, fire made an offer based on other departments in the county, the city made an offer of take aways and hid money.  The arbritator looked at financial reports from actuaries and ruled in fire’s favor. This contract has been more of the same!  BTW, for those of you who are SERIOUSLY considering Blackhawk!  Remember they are MERCS, and they get paid very well, more than SJPD…And no Independent Police Auditor!!! What a joke!

    • What a joke this statement is “both SJPD & SJFD are among the lowest cost per citizen in California!”

      The truth is both SJPD and SJFD are two of the highest compensated groups per employee cost in terms of total compensation (pay and retirement benefits).  Have you looked at the salaries of the those two groups. There see some ridiculously high salaries in those two groups.

      I am of the opinion that there are many qualified and dedicated people who are willing to work for a lower compensation (but still well paid) and not whine about their good fortune while many in the private sector have lost their jobs.

      We don’t live in a society of unlimited funds.  The more money that goes into a smaller group of employees means less money to keep more police or firefighers employed.  And less money for other city services.  I like to keep community centers and libraries open by having police and fire people retire with reduced but still reasonable pensions.

      • Kenny,

        All that you wrote seems perfectly reasonable to me but I guess that’s because we’re both so ignorant. Evidently we are morally obligated to suspend the laws of supply and demand and to ignore the principles of sound fiscal management when it comes to dealing with those in “public safety”. The rationale is that their jobs are difficult and dangerous and the rest of us peons can’t possibly understand what they go through.

  22. I’m all for outsourcing.  We can outsource Janitors, we can outsource Police…heck why not outsource Council Members?  I’m sure we could get others to represent their district without having to deal with these “representatives” that vote to increase their pay, yet vote to decrease City worker pay…sad.  Some City workers do more work than these schmucks…I mean Council Members.

    • “why not outsource Council Members? “

      Actually, it’s been done by Sunnyvale. That’s how San Jose ended up with Ron Gonzales!

    • > heck why not outsource Council Members?  I’m sure we could get others to represent their district without having to deal with these “representatives” that vote to increase their pay, . . .

      Heaven help us if you are really a police officer.  This is really a lame and juvenile argument.

      As flawed and pathetic as council members may be, they are essential elements of local representative government. Council members are probably the irreducible minimum instruments of a functioning local government.

      Janitors and police officer, on the other hand,  are “service providers”.

      The sovereign people may choose, at their descretion, whether to employ janitors and police directly or as agents of a separate contracting institution.

      Repeat after me:  the people are sovereign; janitors and police are servants, not rulers.

      • Host Organism,

        For you and all the other short-sighted commenters I ask this question: How much leverage would a municipality have when negotiating that second contract with a privately-owned police agency? Certainly not take it or leave it, as that strategy would require the existence of a competing firm waiting in wings, with 1000+ state qualified officers on hand, an all but impossible scenario.

        So the city would very quickly find itself over a barrel, wind-up paying top dollar, and inevitably have to bargain away hiring standards so that the service provider, a for-profit business owner, could increase profits by paying lower wages, leaving San Jose in the position of paying top dollar for bottom-dwelling employees.

        Enjoy.

        • > How much leverage would a municipality have when negotiating that second contract with a privately-owned police agency? Certainly not take it or leave it, as that strategy would require the existence of a competing firm waiting in wings, with 1000+ state qualified officers on hand, an all but impossible scenario.

          No.  It doesn’t work this way.  It works differently.

          Sounds like you learned everything you know about the free market from a left-wing sociology department grad student who once read a comic book on the evils of capitalism.

          There’s a reason that they look scruffy, smell bad, and are unemployable.

        • “It works differently/”

          Well, that clarifies everything. You excel at insults, perhaps the mark of a one-time class clown? Well, HostO, school’s out and your smug responses and sophomoric attempts at humor are landing with a thud.

          At the negotiating table leverage rules, and in this argument, apparently, you have none.

        • Our elected ‘representatives’?  They work for the union boss – thus no leverage for taxpayers.

          Bring on state bankruptcy. 
          Bring on municipal bankruptcy.

          Then and only then will taxpayers have any semblance leverage. 
           
          Whenever possible buy online – starve the beast.

        • > At the negotiating table leverage rules, and in this argument, apparently, you have none.

          Negotiating table?  What negotiating table?

          The sovereign people do not negotiate with their servants.

          Government employee unions are going down.

          Plan on having your union handler hit you up for mammoth campaign “assessments” for losing causes for the next couple of elections. 

          (What’s the point of being in a union anyway if all of your high wages go for union dues and campaign assessments, and your net take-home pay is a buck twenty-five an hour.  Plus you get told what to think, which politician ass to kiss,  and to keep your mouth shut.)

  23. Councilman Oliverio:

    In fact the handle I have chosen is absolutely sarcastic. We police officers, firefighters, and soldiers are all cut from the same cloth. Brave, valiant, and proud. We charge the bullets and fire you run from. And daily, across the country, and abroad, we give our lives in sacrifice for our fellow citizens. Sadly, having seen how public safety is viewed by the majority on this council, INCLUDING YOU, I chose the handle with amusement. Police and Fire are evil budgetary neccesities and those damn retirements CAUSED this financial crisis. Nevermind the countless irresponsible decisions made by this council. But come to think of it, “Just a lowly politician” has a much more natural flow and is very intuitive. Logical many, if not most, would say.

    So, with pleasantries aside I’ll agree with you on one point. Yes, some assignments within the PD could be civilianized to save money. Not all, some.

    Secondly, since you referred to the city auditor’s report, I’m sure you are aware that amongst US cities with populations over 900K the Capitol of Silicon Valley, San Jose, ranks DEAD LAST in staffing of officer/citizen ratios. I am fairly certain this 2008 FBI study does not include recent parcels annexed by the city and illegal/undocumented aliens. We stand now at nearly 600 police officers understaffed. Let me see, 70-80 police officers on a dayshift, policing a city of over a million. Most citizens should be shocked to hear that. Sorry, those damn facts again.

    That said let’s revisit an idea I posed last week that you ignored. After all, as you aptly put: 

    “It’s time to wake up, as we have reached a new level of fiscal austerity and there is no monetary candy falling from the sky. We have to make tough choices.”

    A PART TIME CITY COUNCIL. It is time for an independent auditor to explore this matter. The failings and incompetence of this council really have brought us to this moment. And thank you for being so brave to understand that yes, no monetary candy is falling from the sky (except where the A’s are concerned). Think of it, you could take all of July off,…and more!

    • Well said. There are many who take our safety and freedom for granted. I am sure you will be getting the vitriol of Mr. Howe, Mr. Galt, etc in the follow ups to your post.

      I also completely agree that Mr. Oliverio needs to push the idea of making the council a part time position with the mayor and council members.

      I find it pretty pathetic the Mr. Oliverio has not given you the dignity of an answer to many legitimate questions you have posed to him. All the others who write a column realize this is suppose to be a dialogue and respond to questions. I guess he is above doing that.

      • I agree with both Steve and Just a Lowly Police Officer. It is time to get serious about public safety, or should I say the LACK of it. Even the Mayor has been quoted numerous times saying that we need to HIRE not loose more Police Officers. I think these labor disputes and all the politics being played by the City on this issue is just one big game of Russian roulette! The public will be and already are the biggest losers in this.

        These arguments about other cities outsourcing Fire and Police have me shaking my head. We are a city of OVER a million people. The cities everyone is quoting who outsource not only have a smaller population than we do, but many don’t have the kind of crime there that we do here. They have less crime, and less affordable housing! It’s like comparing apples to pineapples for God sake.

      • Steve,

        Thanks for the plug – “love me or hate me, but don’t ignore me.”  Actually, I’m a proponent of cuts on all fronts of city government. 

        I guess you choose to ignore my pleadings for realistic pension and medical benefits for ALL 6500/+ city employees.  As well, you overlook my rants regarding pumping about 3 billion dollars into the bottomless pit, also known as downtown.

        In no way do I want to compromise safety and freedom… how on Earth did you get “freedom” wrapped up in this?!

        Perhaps you’d like to debate some of these issues. You apparently enjoy jumping to conclusions and adding puffery to fact; it would be amusing to see you in action.

        • Because, Greg, take away your safety and ability to move about freely in our society, and see how much freedom you have left. Take a look at the citizens of Oakland who were held hostage last week by a bunch of out of control thugs. I have read some of your prior posts but you lost my interest with your constant reference to rice bowls.

        • There you go, Steve, puffing up the real facts.  If you dare to be wrong, show me where I constantly use the term “rice bowl.”  You’ll not find but just two instances in my several years of posting.  I don’t know what you do for a living, but I can tell you that you’d make a remarkable used car salesman.

        • Guess it was just my good fortune to read both your “rice bowl” comments in the same week. I think this is an omen I should buy a lottery ticket before my luck runs out. I guess you called my bluff and won; I just don’t “dare to be wrong” about your rice bowls. May I be so bold as to recommend the Happy House to you; they have teriyaki bowls that are simply scrumptious.

        • Yes, Steve, you’re quite lucky.  Please feel free to buy as many lottery tickets as you like.  Good thing you have someone around to figure out the spam elimination words for you.

  24. Safety Fair? Isn’t the nearest SJFD Station slated to be closed?? Oh,…of course, I’m sorry, think of the savings! Audacity seems to a word that fits here. Maybe you should consider changing the name. Then again the city can distribute “green” fire extinguishers to hold then over due to the increased SJFD response time,…

  25. We are all feeling the results of our poor economy.  There are a few things that we should not think about being cheap on.  One would be public safety.  Our city has done a very poor job in supporting the police and fire, particularly the police department.  With the Mercury News spreading their false truths regarding racial profiling, excessive force, and the like we have lost touch with reality.  I know that all these allegations to be lies to sell newspapers.  Yeah Mr. Webby smart people know what you report is fiction. 

    It is not realistic to compare police and fire with the other employees of the city.  The jobs in public safety are far more dangerous and the risk of being hurt on the job are far higher.  Ask Oakland Police Department about that.  Any job even in the private sector that are found to be more dangerous also have higher pay. 

    I think we should look more closely on how the city has wasted money on “special projects.”  Now is not the time to put money into art (SJ Airport), more libraries, or community projects.  We should be thinking of downsizing from special projects, but not from police or fire.  As the economy continues to struggle the crime rate will also be effected.  San Jose Police is has one of the lowest officers per/thousand in the nation!  The only people that are going to be effected is the citizens. This means when you call for HELP!  Officers wont be there to respond!  That is the reality.  When their is a murder suspect running around your community.  There will be no officers looking to find him/her. 

    The city is pushing and pushing to reduce the cost of the department.  With a department that is operating now on 1990’s staffing how well would anyone with half a brain think that is going to work.  Officers in patrol cannot get days off, moral is horrible, and those things result in less quality of service for our citizens. 

    People cannot expect great service with highly motivated sincere service when they are not feeling appreciated and are burnt out.  San Jose was one of those most proactive departments in the nation, which meant when officers were not responding to in progress crimes they were hunting the streets for criminals and putting them in jail.  That is a thing of the past ladies and gentlemen.  Thanks to our city and the pressures to placed on the department to cut.. cut ..cut! 

    Numerous things are being cut in months to come.  The gang unit, the narcotics unit, the K-9 unit, and our swat team.  These are the officers going out everyday and taking murder and robbery suspects off the street.  Now there will not be enough officers to do this task effectively nor safely.  No matter what anyone says it is not going to happen effectively with the man power that is currently available.  Not to mention safely. 

    The city has money set aside for their “special projects” which are not a priority.  In a poor economy we should be putting more money into public safety not less as crime always goes up during economic down cycles.  Our city counsel is killing the city by poor decision making.  It needs to stop and stop now!

  26. Our city is on the verge of collapse.  Our police department’s moral is in the toilet.  We need leaders that know what is important.  Cutting our police department down to what the city manager is asking is one thing!  Completely irresponsible.  The result is officers or citizens are going to be killed or injured.  I am ashamed of what our city is doing to the police department.  The department will be down near 1200 officers in a city that should have double that!  SHAME ON OUR CITY MANAGER AND CITY COUNSEL!!!

  27. Yes, police is understaffed.  This is because the retirees are overpaid.  You can’t pay your retirees six figure salaries and expect to have much money left over for current employees. 

    More than half of politicians know this.

    But no one will say this openly, because anyone who criticizes 3% at 50 is an evil person who loves murderers and drug dealers.