San Jose

SJ Police Union Says City Backs Out of Deal, Fight Over Benefits Continues

The angry, bitter fight over benefits between San Jose and the police union that appeared to be resolved just weeks ago is now back on.

The San Jose Police Officers Association ended a meeting with San Jose leaders Tuesday and said the city reneged on a deal to fast-track changes supposedly agreed upon last month.

Firefighters have ratified the offer and the police union had planned to vote soon.

"That is the agreement that's on the table that is signed by all parties to move forward," SJPOA President Paul Kelly said.

The proposed changes to restore pension and disability benefits were designed to help the police department retain officers and boost recruiting.

The union said the city wants to delay the process and even brought up the idea of putting the issue to voters in 2016. Union leaders said the recent spike in violent crime show the city cannot wait.

"These 48 hours, where we had major crime scenes, major violence incidents wiped us out," Kelly said. "The calls for service aren't being answered. They are sitting in a box and there is no cop to respond to them."

The current battle between San Jose city leaders and police started over cuts made by voter-approved Measure B, which led to a mass exodus of officers. The police department is currently stretched to its limit, with several high-profile cases and numerous investigations going on.

In addition, the department is in the midst of investigating two officer-involved shootings and a violent attempted car jacking. Many said the recent crime spike has pushed the department to a breaking point.

City Manager Norberto Duenas declined to discuss details about negotiations, but emphasized talks are still on.

"I think we're still close. Every step of the way we've had over the last few months we've had a few bumps along the road," Duenas said. "I think this is another bump."

Duenas said the city council will meet in a special closed session on Friday.

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