By Alex Torke
President, Santa Clara Police Officers’ Association
Recently, City of Santa Clara Staff and Councilmembers have had a lot to say publicly about the Santa Clara Police Officer’s Association. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of those comments have been untrue. We would like to offer the facts to the public in an effort to cut through the misinformation.
Perhaps most importantly, the public deserves to know who we are. The Santa Clara POA represents every single sworn police officer under the rank of Captain employed by the City of Santa Clara. We are the designated bargaining unit representatives for those same officers, and our membership is limited strictly to currently employed City of Santa Clara police officers. Put plainly, we are your police officers – no more, no less.
In mid-2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic began to take a toll on the city’s finances, the POA was asked to re-open our MOU to discuss potential concessions with the city. We agreed to the talks, and had several productive meetings with the city, with offers made by both sides. At the last meeting in 2020, the POA offered to defer our scheduled raise, take furloughs in the year following, and only asked for the same Covid supplemental sick leave that had been provided to every city employee – except the police and fire department.
The city expressed concern about the cost of providing such leave, and told us they would consider our offer.
We never heard back from the city.
As the year came to an end, according to our obligations under our three-year MOU negotiated with the city in 2019, we provided the data that would determine if we were eligible for a raise, and if so, how much that raise would be. Imagine our surprise when the city told us we’d done our math incorrectly and were actually due a larger raise than we thought.
More recently, we sent donation letters to the community. This is a part of our annual fundraising efforts and was conducted in the same manner as we have for at least the last decade, if not longer. The letters ask for help with our charitable efforts and make absolutely no reference whatsoever to increased services or improved response times.
We are very fortunate to have an exceptionally supportive community who not only appreciates us out loud, but also backs it up with donations.
To be clear: All donations made during our annual campaigns are deposited in a distinct account that is used strictly for donations to charities and charitable causes.
Those donations have been used over the last year for local fallen officers, fallen city employees, residents in need, local Santa Clara charities, as well as national charitable organizations with programs in the city. While we often don’t publicize many of our donations to individuals for the sake of their privacy, you can find more information about the organizations we support at www.santaclarapoa.com/about/supported-charities.
Finally, the last fact I’ll offer for your consideration is this: Our members care about the city. We spend much of our time in the city, develop relationships that go beyond being a mere employee, and regard ourselves as members of the community. Our members coach little league in the city and are involved in local charities, not as police officers, but in their capacity as mothers, fathers, and neighbors.
If you see a Santa Clara Police Officer, feel free to say hello. You might find out that much of what you’ve heard just isn’t true.
When we support our great Police officers, we will remain a peaceful city.
Thank you, Officer Torke, for correcting the record. As a long-time Santa Claran, I was and have been disturbed by recent rhetoric about our outstanding police department. I stand with our officers and know your service to Santa Clara is second to none. Shame on anyone who says otherwise.
Thank you Alex, for giving us this perspective. It doesn’t alter my view of public sector unions, but does give us more background than we have been given. Sounds like the city doesn’t ask other staff to take cuts but does give other staff “Covid supplemental sick leave ” that the police and fire did not get.
Does sound one sided.