The bitter fight between San Jose City Hall and the police union escalated on Tuesday, just before the mayor plans to ask for an independent investigation into allegations the San Jose Police Officers' Association is sabotaging police recruiting efforts.
NBC Bay Area’s Robert Handa talked with a cadet who said, as an academy recruit, the union encouraged him to leave, an accusation the union emphatically denies.
This cadet's story follows a similar allegation made by a former recruit who published her version in the Mercury News. They say the union wants recruits to quit, but the union denies it and called the accusation “politics.”
The San Jose Police Academy is the focus of the department's recruiting effort, and where some people, including cadets, say that effort is being undermined.
A former recruit, Elyse Rivas, wrote an article saying union president Jim Unland told cadets to “quit” during orientation. She admitted Unland never said “quit,” but insists he encouraged recruits to leave to strengthen the union's pension fight with the city.
Tuesday, another man, referred to NBC Bay Area by a Sam Liccardo supporter, backed up Rivas's claim. He asked not to be identified because he is pursuing a job in law enforcement. NBC Bay Area has verified he was a cadet present at the orientation.
"He told the class to take advantage of the academy and then find jobs elsewhere,” the former cadet said.
Why come forward?
"I think it's important that the truth comes out."
What's the truth?
"That the union tries to get us to leave the department."
Jim Unland scoffed and emphasized several officers at the orientation signed sworn statements to the contrary. He also pointed out the union recently accused a political consultant of trying to coerce a former officer, Aaron Ettinger, into making a similar allegation..
"Ettinger obviously said 'no.’ I don't know what type of arrangement that's been made here,” Unland said. "This is desperation politics on the last week of a campaign, where Liccardo is trailing in every legitimate poll I've seen, and they're running out of time and they know it."
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed says he still plans to call for an independent investigation at a city committee meeting on Wednesday.