SAN JOSE (KPIX) — When San Jose police officers hit the streets, they stay there longer than most other big-city cops in California, according to documents.
The documents from the city auditor’s office show San Jose police average 8 extra hours of work per week, every week, all year long.
The auditor’s report graphically shows how police overtime costs are skyrocketing almost literally off the charts.
“Overtime spending has gone from $11 million dollars in 2008 to more than $36 million last year. It’s more than tripled,” said San Jose City Auditor Sharon Erickson.
The report says San Jose officers got an average of 450 overtime hours last year.
By comparison, officers in San Francisco and Los Angeles averaged only 100 hours per year.
“The times when you’d have a couple of days off? You’re not having a couple of days off anymore. It’s not happening,” said Paul Kelly with San Jose Police Officers Association. “You’re having maybe one day off between shifts.”
San Jose police have been using mandatory overtime to fill in gaps left by a shortage of officers. The police union says the department is down about 630 officers from 2011 levels.
As KPIX reported last month, officers have been sleeping in RV’s in the police parking lot between their shifts.
But the auditor’s report says officers are doing something else to get a break.
“People are using sick leave to get a day off of work. It’s not appropriate, but you can understand that people want a day off of work,” explained Erickson.
The police union contends the officers are not abusing sick leave.
“Officers work until they are completely exhausted. And when they hit that point, there is a meltdown,” said Kelly. “It’s either getting sick or so tired they have to call in sick to just get sleep.”
Questions regarding how fatigue might affect officer safety have been among the most serious facing the department as the city continues to grapple with police staffing.
Some city officials have been promoting Measure F as a possible solution to the current staffing issues with the department by rolling back some of the provisions contained in the previously passed Measure B.