After a three-hour debate featuring high-priced lawyers and an array of contradictory statistics, the City Council voted 4-1 Wednesday to eliminate 401(k) contributions and longevity pay hikes for Escondido's 150 police officers, our media partner the North County Times reported.
Council members called the police officers "heroes," but also stressed that sharply declining city revenues required that police accept the same compensation cuts imposed on roughly 650 other city employees this winter. Wednesday's cuts will save the city about $350,000 per year, the paper reported.
Wednesday's hearing took place because the labor union representing the officers has refused the compensation cuts accepted by other employees. They contend that the willingness of police officers to forego pay increases this year should be adequate to help the city balance its budget.
To bring its case to the public, the Escondido Police Officers Association (POA) sent out mailers to 17 thousand homes. The mailers show gang members, all minorities, and say "gang members outnumber police officers by almost six to one.
Some say the mailers are racist and misleading, and use a scare tactic to make the community feel it is unsafe.
The POA says race has nothing to do with the fliers, which are based on fact.