San Diego's Disappearing Police Force?

Historically San Diego's police rank and file receive the least compensation for the same job elsewhere in the county

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A San Diego police officer holds a toy shotgun that a man was arrested for displaying on a in a street in the Midway area on Feb.5, 2012.

    The City of San Diego is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars training police officers only to lose them to neighboring communities that pay better.

    Patrol officers are leaving at a rate of nine per month. It's an incredible cost and safety concern.

    San Diego Assistant Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman will go before the city public safety and neighborhood service committee Wednesday afternoon with some alarming statistics about our disappearing police force.

    Mayor Bob Filner is prepared to throw over four million dollars at the problem but critics say more money in the wrong place won't help.

    Historically San Diego's police rank and file receive the least compensation for the same job elsewhere in the county. Recruits to veterans are asking themselves why stay?.

    “When you got to take care of your family I think your family is a higher priority than your loyalty to an organization,” Police Officers Association President Brian Marvel said.

    Wednesday the City safety committee will hear these discouraging statistics.

    The police department is 132 officers short of what it can afford.

    Since last July, 88 officers have left.

    Thirteen percent of those went to work for other departments

    More recently 43 police recruits in the process of getting hired in San Diego joined other departments.

    The police chief says each recruit is a $190,000 investment.

    “If the compensation package isn't keeping people here then basically the city of San Diego is training people for other departments,” Marvel said.

    Here's a snapshot of what some other departments pay. San Diego officers make $48,000. San Diego County sheriff's deputies make 10 percent more then that when you add benefits. Escondido's city web site indicates it's officers make $71,000. Chula Vista pays recruits $49,000 but after six months on the job that jumps to $67,000.

    San Diego police are asking for a raise in the form of cheaper healthcare and pension benefits not a salary increase.

    “The city has shown over and over that they are not capable of procuring quality healthcare at a low price,” Marvel said.

    The city is pledging millions more to safety services in the coming year and doubling recruit classes. Most agree it's money well spent but only if you can convince them to stay.