SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – The San Jose Police Officer’s Union says the morning after election day could be the start of another mass exodus of police officers.
“If they wake up and the next mayor is Sam Liccardo, there’s going to be 200 cops that have a hard discussion with their families that say ‘I can’t do this. I can’t do eight more years of this,’” says Jim Unland of the San Jose Police Officers Association.
Detective John Moutzouridis and Franco Vado, both 19 year veterans, say years of paycuts and 70 hour work weeks have taken their toll. They’re ready to quit.
“It’s not fear-mongering. Every officer is going to have to say, ‘is this the place for me to work?” said Moutzouridis.
Vado often works seven days a week and says he’s missed out on too many moments with his kids.
“It’s not realistic. It’s not stable to have your family here. And I’m probably going to leave for the private sector if Sam Liccardo gets the mayorship,” says Vado.
San Jose has already lost more than 400 officers to layoffs, other departments and early retirement in recent years. The ones left behind work mandatory overtime.
Unland, the union president, says he warned Mayor Chuck Reed that officers would leave following cuts to pay and benefits, along with pension reform.
“When I’ve made a prediction, sadly, I’ve been dead on. I know hundreds are gonna wake up the following day, if it is Liccardo as the next mayor, and be ready to make a tough decision.”
At a mayoral debate earlier this week, councilmember Liccardo said he’s focused on restoring officer pay and rebuilding trust. He has been one of Mayor Reed’s most reliable allies.
“They’re going to respect a mayor who’s honest with them. I’m going to give them what Dave Cortese didn’t give them when he was on the council. And that is the truth,” said Liccardo. “I’m going to tell them how we can restore morale, how we can restore pay, how we can ensure we have a department that’s the most innovative in the country. But we cannot promise them benefits that we can never pay for.
The police union has endorsed Cortese. Financial documents show that the unions political action committee has spend nearly $51,000 on his campaign so far.
“One of the things that my candidacy provides to public safety, police and fire, is a sense of trust,” said Cortese. “( I will provide) a regained hope that they can work with in the mayor’s office that may not be able to immediately restore anything that they’ve lost, but can start them back on the path of recovery when it comes to financial incentives.”
The election is now just over a month away.
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