SAN JOSE (BCN) — The San Jose Police Officers’ Association on Wednesday announced a campaign to inform residents and elected officials about the ramifications that a proposed elimination of up to 349 police officers would have on the city.

“My message to our city leadership is simply this: no cuts to police, period,” officers’ association president George Beattie said at a news conference this afternoon at the vacant Southside Police Substation.

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The facility, Beattie said, is brand new and was paid for with taxpayer funds, but there are not enough police officers to staff it.

He said the building is not only a testament to the “misplaced priorities” of some city leaders, but that it also demonstrates a disconnect between what residents want and what city leaders are delivering.

He called a proposal made to the City Council by the city manager’s office last week to eliminate nearly 350 officers “irresponsible and reckless,” saying that doing so would bring the department’s staff down to fewer than 900 cops and place the safety of residents at risk.

Last year, the Police Department had to eliminate its gang unit due to budget cuts, Beattie said. He said the mounted unit will be disbanded soon, and that the burglary unit could be next if the cuts are implemented.

But Tom Manheim, a spokesman for the city manager’s office, said the city is facing “very, very difficult” choices this year.

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“We’re facing a $112 million deficit,” he said. “There are not going to be any easy solutions, and at this point everybody needs to step up and contribute to the solutions to the extent they can.”

He said Mayor Chuck Reed has asked bargaining units to take a 10 percent cut, and that if the police officers union agrees to the concessions, it would save roughly 112 positions in the department.

But Beattie said massive layoffs are inevitable, even with contract concessions.

“The citizens of San Jose do not fully understand what the mayor and the city’s administration are proposing,” he said. “If they did, they would be outraged.”

Michelle McGurk, a spokeswoman for Reed, said city leaders are working to find other ways to save costs in the Police Department to avoid layoffs.

“We are looking for ideas from our employee groups like the police officers’ association as far as places where we can save money, and save jobs and services,” McGurk said.

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