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COVID Outbreak Among San Jose Police Officers Creates Issues For Patrolling

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Nearly four dozen San Jose Police officers have been sidelined by COVID-19 -- an outbreak severe enough for the department to consider shifting detectives and others to patrol city streets part time.

"We don't want to burn out our patrol people," says Police Department Spokesperson Sgt. Christian Camarillo.

The outbreak is hitting a police department that's been chronically understaffed for years. The current city budget includes money for a total of 1,150 police officers. But vacancies have been tough to fill and the current roster of sworn officers is just over a thousand.

The San Jose Police Officers' Association says far fewer, under 500, are assigned to patrolling the city each day.

"We assign to our patrol division somewhere in the neighborhood of 450. That's 450 officers for a million people seven days a week, 24 hours a day," says SJPOA President Sean Pritchard.

The POA is critical of the department's plan to potentially shift detectives and other officers specialized units to the patrol division to cover staff shortages.

"They're just looking to rob Peter to pay Paul. They're looking to reassign detectives. What do we tell the crime victim? What do we tell that rape victim?," Pritchard said.

Pritchard says the POA supports filling vacancies with voluntary overtime -- with officers working extra shifts -- until the latest COVID crisis passes.

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