NBC 7 Investigates

City Council Approves Hiring Bonuses to Combat SDPD Shortages

NBC 7 Investigates found officers are fleeing the city's police force in numbers not seen in at least a decade

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California police officers who leave their jobs to come work for San Diego Police will now get an extra $15,000 bonus. 

On Tuesday, the San Diego City Council approved spending $400,000 over the next two years to poach experienced police officers from other police agencies. This plan couldn’t have come soon enough.

Those officers don’t have to go through the police academy, saving the city about $100,000, compared with a rookie officer.

There’s also an incentive program for current SDPD officers, who can get up to $5,000 for recruiting other officers.

Earlier this year, NBC 7 Investigates found that officers were fleeing the city’s force in numbers not seen in recent history. And since then, it hasn't gotten better.

More officers have left SDPD this past year than in any year in the last decade. In fiscal year 2022, which ended June 30, 241 officers left the force. Another 12 officers have left since July 1. 

About 31% of those departures were retirements: 76 officers retired last year. But 66 of the officers who left didn’t retire; they just went to work at other law enforcement agencies.

In an interview back in April, Jared Wilson, who is the president of San Diego’s police union, said many SDPD officers left in large part because they could make a higher salary doing the same work at other local agencies.

While some officers left over the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, those numbers so far are not as high as a police union survey predicted. In September 2021, that survey reported that more than 300 San Diego Police officers said they would rather quit than get the COVID-19 vaccine.

When asked three months ago why SDPD salaries were lower than competing agencies, Mayor Todd Gloria told NBC 7 Investigates the city and police union were working on a new contract. Last month, they signed that agreement, giving officers a 5% raise this year, and another 5% next year.

NBC 7 Investigates: San Diego Police Officers Fleeing the Force The San Diego Police Department faces a growing challenge of preventing officers from heading to other local agencies, reports NBC 7's Alexis Rivas
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