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Layoff Day Arrives For 66 San Jose Police Officers

SAN JOSE (KCBS) - Sixty-six San Jose police officers were ordered to turn in their guns and badges on Thursday as the city moves forward with layoffs during a year when the murder rate has spiked dramatically.

Thursday was also the final day for 25 officers who accepted early retirement under pressure from the city for cuts that would close a $115 million deficit.

KCBS' Matt Bigler Reports:

And police were not optimistic any of the laid off officers would be re-hired soon.

"If you're looking for stability right now in San Jose, there really isn't any because of what is being projected for next year," said Sgt. Jason Dwyer, a spokesman for the San Jose Police Department.

KCBS' Matt Bigler Reports:

Hundreds more layoffs were avoided because of concessions by the San Jose Police Officers Association back in April, including a ten percent wage cut.

Union president George Beattie complained in a San Jose Mercury News editorial that 43 of the layoffs could have been averted with a federal grant. City officials said that funding included costly conditions San Jose could not afford.

Beattie said it was the first time in the Police Department's history that officers were laid off.

"I felt like I was at a funeral reception," Beattie said. "It was really gut-wrenching."

Mayor Chuck Reed expressed remorse about the layoffs, but said they are necessary because the city is not able to afford the officers.

"Even though the police budget went up a small amount, police officer retirement costs jumped by $25 million so we had to shrink the department."

But the reductions will not be without consequences, Beattie said. A police force of 1,106 is now managing a city of nearly 1 million people, he said. The result of that will be slower response times, especially to property crimes.

He said city officials could have made better decisions to avoid some of the layoffs.

"We're very disappointed that this took place today. Moving forward, whatever harm comes, now they own it. We did what we could do."

Investigators have attributed nearly half of the 28 murders so far this year to gang violence, prompting the police chief to re-focus the Metro patrol unit exclusively on gangs.

San Jose saw just 20 homicides in all of 2010.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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