Rock bottom. That’s how police officers in San Jose are describing the new academy class.
The number of cadets: a new record low, even after the good news of a new labor agreement with the city.
The last academy graduated 18 recruits. That was a new record low. Now, the academy that begins next month has even fewer. Fourteen cadets are slated to graduate in the coming weeks. When the next academy begins in October, the number attempting to join the force is even more dismal: 13 recruits have been hired. Historically, only seven or eight of them will actually make it to graduation.
This bad news comes after good news: the announcement of a labor settlement with the city that ended years of bitter pension and pay fights between the city and police, where hundreds of officers left the force for other departments.
The police union says that labor agreement still has to be signed by the courts – and that could take weeks or months.
“It really increases the reason we need the new negotiated settlement implemented as soon as possible so we can bring our academies back to the 60 that they’re capable of holding,” said San Jose Police Officers' Association Vice President James Gonzales.
In a statement, the city said, “Everyone understands that rebuilding the San Jose Police Department will take time, and we'll be working together with the POA to recruit both new applicants and former San Jose officers to join our department. We're confident that our renewed partnership with POA will help us achieve this critically important goal."
For now, trainers are putting cadets through the rigors of police life to make sure being a San Jose police officer is really what they want.