San Jose police brass is scurrying to beef up a department that needs 200 street-ready officers.
On Monday, department leaders implemented a new program to make it easier for war veterans to join their ranks. It allows candidates, who are interested in being police officers, to substitute up to four years of their military service for the department’s education requirements for college credit.
The police department says this is a way for the community to benefit from the skills men and women in the military have already learned.
"It’s great because it allows our military veterans to go ahead and use their experience and their knowledge … here at home as part of the San Jose Police Department," police spokesman Albert Morales said.
Recruiters at the Armed Forces Career Center in San Jose welcome the department's efforts.
"Really, what this is going to allow service members to do is come back from dedicating their service to the country, and allow them to give that same service back to the local community," said Staff Sgt. Samuel Windisch, who is a U.S. Marines Corps recruiter.
The Police Officers’ Association also supports the idea of honoring the service of veterans, but its leaders say they don't believe Monday’s move will make a significant dent in filling the 200 vacancies.
The association says the city needs to offer better benefits and pensions if it truly wants to attract top-quality patrol officers.
The San Jose Police Department already recruits on military bases and department leaders say they hope their new plan will make it easier to recruit qualified candidates.
The new program takes effect immediately.