Picture a corn field with a farmer shucking corn by hand. His focus is on shucking the corn and he does it very well. However, this farmer can only do so much in a day and thus is provided an opportunity to assemble farm equipment which will shuck more corn than present resources allow. However, to do so will mean that he will stop shucking the corn in the interim and consequently lose some portion of the crop to crows and rodents who will eat the corn if the farmer is not present.
Fortunately, our farmer has the money to pay a qualified retired farmer to assemble the farm equipment while he continues to shuc. He will soon have extra help in the field and thus be more productive. Sounds like a good plan. Our farmer is out in the field being vigilant of his farming duties, which includes warding off crows and rodents while the farm equipment is being assembled.
However, what would you say if the farmer was too proud and refused to allow a qualified retired farmer to help him assemble the farm equipment? Instead, he continues to farm the field himself into the evening hours, becoming tired and overworked. He may make a mistake while falling further behind. Hence, the farmer is never able to take advantage of augmenting his farming with the equipment and thus loses a large portion of the crops to crows and rodents.
Sounds silly to me. Why not accept qualified assistance so the farmer can do a better job in the field and remain vigilant in farming duties?
Well, this is currently the situation for our San Jose Police Department (SJPD). We have more qualified candidates who would like to join SJPD than open positions. The next step is to require a background check. Typically background checks are done by current SJPD, which means that 17 police officers are pulled from patrol. These police officers cannot be in two places at once and therefore this results in less police on patrol.
This topic among others was discussed at Public Safety committee two weeks ago. Police Chief Chris Moore would like to hire a private company to do the background checks rather than pulling police officers from patrolling the neighborhoods. The private company does this for other cities and they employ retired police officers to do much of the work and some of them are actually retired SJPD. However, the Police Officers Association objects to this and would rather pull police from patrol to do the background checks. I am told that on-duty police officers would do a better job since they have higher standards than retired police officers. However, the absence of 17 police officers from patrol creates a heavier burden on the remaining officers on patrol and less police presence on the streets.
I admire our San Jose police officers that work hard and return home safely after each shift. However, I also believe that law enforcement officials in other jurisdictions are good people as well. Retired law enforcement from the Sheriff’s office, Fremont and Mountain View, for example, are qualified to do background checks on prospective candidates for SJPD.
The idea of using retired police officers to do backgrounds triggers the process of union negotiations called meet and confer. I do not like the secrecy of meet and confer and would rather have negotiations public. In my view, the utilization of retirees should be something the city and police union could easily agree upon. I would prefer that this issue be discussed in public, rather than behind closed doors, to avoid hurt feelings and focus on more important matters.
I understand the need for union negotiations for wages and benefits. However, it does not look good when unions contest small items like assistance from retired officers or waste time and money defending people who should be terminated.
For example, the firefighters union filed a grievance for the right to have pornography in each fire station. In addition the firefighters union argued that termination of a fireman was too excessive when the civil service commission recommended he be terminated for sexual harassment of two female co-workers that included unsolicited massages, kisses, birthday spankings, and other inappropriate touching and banter. This is sad.
Making a mountain over a molehill creates negative PR for the union and in my view should be dropped since it hurts their credibility on negotiations that pertain to wages and benefits.