The number of San Diego Police officers has dropped to its lowest level in a decade and is projected to continue decreasing.
The San Diego Police Officers Association (POA) says the department cannot hire people fast enough to keep pace with the officers leaving in favor of agencies with better compensation.
“They haven’t had a pay raise since 2008, and they’re jumping ship in large numbers,” said Jeff Jordon, vice president of the POA.
For the first time in ten years, staffing levels could drop below the minimum number required to patrol the city, and more than half of the force is eligible to retire in the next four years, according to Jordon.
He said the decreased SDPD staffing has led to citizen complaints about slow response times – or officers not responding at all.
Another problem, Jordon said, is for every 100 applicants to the SDPD, four may be qualified. Of those four, at least one will drop out within the first few years.
His point is that the police cannot hire themselves out of the retention issue.
“The city only has one choice at this point. It is left with no other options except to make a long-term investment in officers,” said Jordon.
A spokesperson for Mayor Kevin Faulconer told NBC 7 the mayor understands the crisis and has included $3.2 million in this year’s budget for retention efforts.
Faulconer also allocated funds for 36 more recruits this year than last, the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Edwin Lohr with the North Park Community Association is doing some recruiting of his own.
He’s trying to gather volunteers to staff a citizen patrol in his neighborhood, where there is a growing concern about sexual assaults.
North Park saw at least four attempted attacks last month alone.
“We know there might be a lack of police protection, so whatever we can do to make quality of life in our community better,” said Lohr.