Council members worried about exodus of police officers

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SAN DIEGO — Four members of the City Council called Tuesday for a quick hearing on a $2 million budget item meant to recruit and retain San Diego police officers, a request that is likely to be granted.

Council members Kevin Faulconer, Mark Kersey, Scott Sherman and Lorie Zapf held a news conference to urge the Budget Committee to hold a hearing next month on plans for the expenditure.

San Diego Police DepartmentWe need to move forward, and we need to move forward right away,” Faulconer said.

Todd Gloria, the council president and Budget Committee chairman, later agreed to the July meeting.

“I share my colleagues’ interest in developing a plan that actually addresses San Diego’s growing police retention challenges,” Gloria said.

The SDPD has been losing 10 officers a month to other agencies recently, according to the San Diego Police Officers Association. The police union says some of them are receiving $1,500 a month in additional take-home pay.

“I think the council is doing a fair job in demonstrating to our officers that they are taking this issue seriously and that they are beginning to take steps to address the department’s attrition rate,” said SDPOA President Brian Marvel.

“However, this is only a starting point in addressing this issue,” Marvel said. “As long as our officers are making up to 20 percent less in take home pay than officers at other local agencies, problems with recruiting and retention will continue to plague our department.”

The council members said the city is paying $100,000 to train the officers, only to lose them to other law enforcement agencies. Also, nearly half of the SDPD officers will be eligible to retire in four years, according to the police union.

The money would be given to the officers as uniform, equipment and firearms allowances, among other things, according to Faulconer. He said he hopes SDPD management will attend the meeting to provide input on how to spend the money.

The councilman said he would like the $2 million to become an annual expenditure.

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