San Jose Police Face Layoffs, Pension Reform

SAN JOSE (KCBS)- The city of San Jose could see hundreds of police officers let go this summer because of a $115 million budget deficit. Mayor Chuck Reed said he will seek the City Council’s approval on May 24th to declare a state of emergency and prepare ballot language for a pension-reform measure.

The mayor’s proposal would go on the November ballot and he claimed it would stabilize the city’s finances. The proposal would call for a cap on city retirement contributions for new employees, raise the retirement age for full benefits, and raise the eligibility for retiree health benefits.

KCBS’ Betsy Gebhart Reports:

That worries San Jose Police Officers Association President George Beattie who said any ballot measure would pass overwhelmingly by voters.

“We would prefer that the city sit down and discuss pensions with us before going to the ballot, said Beattie.

Chief of Police Chris Moore said the layoffs in the department could amount to nearly 300 in the next fiscal year. Mayor Reed maintained that without the cuts that the Silicon Valley city might be forced to cut its 4,200 person workforce to 1,600 within five years and that the department must shrink its workforce because of “skyrocketing” retirement costs.

“It’ll be a significant cut, but I say that in the context that generally San Jose is a safe city compared to other cities. Detroit comes to mind and others,” said Moore.

Moore admits there could be increases in officer response times and that police will have to focus on violent crimes rather than property crimes.

San Jose’s homicide rate, now at 19, is dramatically higher than this same time last year.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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