San Jose Municipal Code Section 8.12 authorizes the use of the PoliceReserves. Although the Reserves are available, the city is not utilizing their full potential. Use of the Reserve officers could offer valuable assistance to the city because they are fully sworn and have the authority of a regular officer under California Penal Code Section 832.6(a). Reserves have already completed the police academy and carry a gun.
If the city requested, the Reserves could potentially put an extra 20 officers on the street tomorrow. There are currently over 80 Reserves on the roster. If just 25 percent responded, the city would have 20 additional sworn officers available to patrol our neighborhoods. I realize that this may require negotiation with the labor union, and there is the possibility that the Police Officers Association may not be supportive. However, I am hopeful that the city and the POA could work collaboratively and bring forward a plan that would utilize the reserves; even if the plan were in the form of a pilot program and/or for a certain amount of time. For example, if the police union and the city could agree to use reserves for one year for specific purposes, etc. At the very least, we should try.
Another goal to strive towards is allowing the hiring of retired SJPD officers to work and be paid on an hourly basis—but not accruing further pension benefits. These retired SJPD officers could do background checks, burglary investigations, evidence gathering, get warrants, etc. for a one-year period.
Currently, the Chief of Police mandates that Reserves can only work alongside a regular officer, in the same car. Quite often the Reserve is not even counted as being in the car; thus, while there are physically two officers in the car, they are signed on as a one-man car and can only be dispatched as a one-man unit. If that practice were changed, we would see an immediate 800 hours per month of extra police patrol. Every Reserve must currently do a 10-hour shift on patrol each month (80 x 10 = 800). The Los Angeles Police Departmentallows Reserves to work by themselves or with other Reserves:
If the Reserves that are qualified to work as solo officers—about 80 of them are—were allowed to work on their own, they would add additional patrol cars on the streets; making a more visible police presence. I have heard that some current officers may resent the utilization of reserves and would rather not drive in the same car. If that is true, then the city and POA should allow Reserves to drive by themselves as most current officers do or allow Reserves to team up in the same car. If we allowed this, we might see many more Reserves volunteering more hours.
Reserves could also be utilized in other ways, too. For example, they could provide prisoner transport, be the second officer on a crime scene, assist in back-up when officers are sick, in court, etc. Having Reserves be part of the SJPD team would also lower overtime costs and provide time for police officers to take a vacation.
The Chief and the command staff know of the authority of the Reserves to backfill units because they already use the Reserves for the “Keith Kelly” Relief night (twice a year), as well as relief for the Police Olympics (one week a year). Therefore, there is a current and active precedent for using the Reserves for SJPD backup.
Although the Reserves work for free, they are allotted $1 per hour of work for their uniform allowance. Therefore, the city would incur an $800.00 per month fee for uniforms for the Reserve for a second voluntary shift per month.
San Jose needs to do the best we can today and we need to utilize all of our available resources now by allowing the Reserves to be visible patrolling San Jose neighborhoods. Utilizing Reserves and Retired SJPD is a cost effective way to provide law enforcement during this time with limited tax revenue.