Debriefing For Former Cops

Dozens of San Jose Police Officers Turn In Badges

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Officer Mayra Aguayo normally sits in a briefing room with the rest of the fellow police officers around her.

    But instead, this was a de-orientation.

    Aguayo is one of roughly 70 police officers who had to turn in their badges because  of San Jose's $115 million budget deficit.

    'It was heartbreaking," said Aguayo. "Because for two-plus years, that's all you worked for. "

    Aguayo sat at the union hall Wednesday, where the POA held a day-long seminar on life after police work.

     Recruiters were on hand from trade schools and colleges.

    And health benefits experts described the former officers' options.

    "I grew up in San Jose," said Pierre Nguyen, another laid off cop. "I wanted to make a positive change in the  city I grew up in."

    Aguayo, Nguyen, and many of the other officers cleaned out their lockers on Tuesday.

    Many of them are from the last three police academies.

    "The younger officers are the ones making the arrests, finding guns, finding dope, because we're the proactive ones," said Aguayo, who also grew up in San Jose.

    In the latest newsletter of the Police Officers Association, POA president George Beattie encouraged any officer with less than 20 years experience to abandon San Jose, and law enforcement altogether.

    Beattie told NBC Bay Area that dangers now outweigh the rewards.

    "Every day we go out there, we're never guaranteed that we're going to go home to our family and loved ones," said Beattie.

    Officer Nguyen pointed the finger directly at City Hall.

    And he warned of a potentialy dangerous summer, with the homicide rate on track to triple this year compared to last.

    "This summer is going to be bloody and violent," said Nguyen, "And the blood won't be on our hands. It'll be on City Hall's hands.'

    San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has repeatedly said the last thing he wants to do is lay off one police officer.

    But with a dwindling cashflow and rising benefits costs, the city is forced to trim.

    In an email, Reed told NBC Bay Area today, "We have some of the finest police officers in the country and I'm sorry that we have to let some go... I think we need more officers on the street, not less. We just can't afford them."

    Initially, 122 officers were slated to be laid off.

    But several of them either retired or transferred to other departments, leaving roughly 70 officers attending today's de-briefing.

    "It's a horrible feeling," said Aguayo.

    Her dream was always to be a cop.

    Now, that dream has been put on hold.