For Immediate Release Contact:
December 20, 2021 (707) 644-3913
Extreme Staffing Crisis of Great Concern to VPOA
Vallejo, CA – “Acquiring and keeping good people is a leader’s most important task,” wrote John C. Maxwell in his book, Developing The Leaders Around You. At a time many law enforcement agencies throughout the country struggle to find and hire qualified applicants, retention is of the utmost importance. In an effort to ensure city leaders were aware of staffing shortages, the Vallejo Police Officers’ Association (VPOA) wrote to the City Council in December of 2020. This was followed by a February press release (included below).
Chief Williams hired two of his former San Jose colleagues to be recruiters in March of 2020. Public records requests show that the City has since paid the recruiters over $225,000.00. When Chief Williams started, the Department was staffed with 108 sworn members. Currently, the Vallejo Police Department is down to 87 sworn police officers plus the Chief and Deputy Chief. However, 25% of those officers are injured and unable to work the streets. This equates to 65 working police officers - or .5 per 1,000 population; or 1 officer for every 2,000 residents. This is dangerously below the average 2.34 per 1,000 population across agencies in the Sate of California. The problem is extremely apparent in Vallejo when trying to fill 8 police beats, on 3 shifts a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year - all while trying to manage sick, vacation and training days - in the Patrol Division alone!
Shawny Williams was hired as the Chief of Police in November of 2019, and since then 40 sworn police officers have separated from the Department. 17 of those 40 officers are now working at other Bay Area Agencies. Chief Williams changed the recruitment and hiring process in May of 2020. Since then, he has hired only 10 police officers, five of whom recently started a challenging 6-12 month field training program. Chief Williams led members of the Department and the City to believe that by hiring these two recruiters he could fill the ranks of the Department and provide exceptional services to the City. Unfortunately, quite the opposite has occurred. Another alarming fact is that since Chief Williams’ appointment, the Department has lost 45% of our female police officers to resignations or leaving for other agencies.
Currently there are 4 more Vallejo police officers in the process to be hired at neighboring Bay Area agencies and several others close to retirement. This failure by Chief Williams to recruit and retain employees is causing dangerous working conditions for Vallejo police officers. Additionally this failure has reduced the quality of services and increased danger to the citizens of Vallejo.
On most days, the Department struggles to reach minimum staffing levels. The Vallejo Police Officers’ Association wants to provide the best possible services to the citizens of Vallejo as well as ensure the safety and wellbeing of our members. We encourage everyone to contact Chief Williams and your City Council members to demand accountability. The only way the Police Department can make needed improvements, provide better services, and ensure the safety of our members, citizens and community, is to change course.
February 5, 2021
Vallejo Police Officers’ Association Concerned by Exodus of Experienced Officers and Inadequate Staffing
Vallejo, CA – The Vallejo Police Officers’ Association is deeply concerned by the loss of experienced officers to other law enforcement agencies. In the last two weeks, five experienced police officers have resigned to take new positions with other law enforcement agencies. This is a great loss to the department and the city of Vallejo as the officers take with them over 50 years in combined experience. Additional experienced officers are in the process of retiring and leaving for other agencies.
The Vallejo Police Department now has only 104 sworn officers, but that number is not representative of the actual number of working police officers in the city. This is because it also includes the chief, the two new deputy chief positions, and 8 police officer trainees that are in the field training program. This is the lowest staffing of police officers (93) for VPD in the last several years and the VPOA is gravely concerned for not only the safety of our members but also the safety of the citizens of Vallejo. The VPOA wants to provide the best possible police services to the city of Vallejo, protect the members of our community, and ensure the safety of our officers – all of which are severely inhibited by this staffing crisis.
This comes at a time when Chief Shawny Williams has made the decision to shut down several units within the Department that provide critical services to the people who live and work within the city of Vallejo. Chief Williams decided to remove the officers from and shut down the Traffic Division and Community Services Section within the Department. Additionally, new vacancies within the Investigations Section are not being filled and this has left the Department with only 5 detectives to investigate all of the major crimes that occur within the city – in light of the fact that Vallejo recorded the second highest number of murders in the City’s history in 2020. The Vallejo Police Officers’ Association is worried that the lack of these services will lead to dangerous conditions.
The Vallejo Police Officers’ Association has reached out to city leadership in an attempt to assist with the staffing crisis. Unfortunately, Chief Williams and city leaders are focused solely on hiring new police officer trainees that must attend a six-month police academy and then pass a 6–12-month field training program before they are able to function as police officers within the city. The VPOA expressed the immediate need to hire lateral officers from other jurisdictions that can immediately contribute to the city. The VPOA recommended the city adopt a lateral hiring bonus and even offered to split the cost of the bonus for the first lateral hired under the new program. Despite the continued loss of experienced officers and the failure of the department to recruit and attract qualified laterals, the city and Chief Williams have not taken any steps to solve this recruitment and retention problem.
The Vallejo Police Officers’ Association (VPOA) was incorporated in 1957. The VPOA is the recognized bargaining unit between all Vallejo Police Officers and the City of Vallejo. Members include all ranks of officers – Captains, Lieutenants, Sergeants, Corporals and Officers.
The VPOA does not represent the Chief of Police or the two Deputy Police Chiefs.
The business function of the VPOA is to protect the collective interests of the members of the Vallejo Police Department and provide benefits to its members. The VPOA is also committed to the safety and security of the citizens of Vallejo and the protection of life and property.
For more information, please visit www.vallejopoa.org