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Over 100 officers have left SDPD since July, report says

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SAN DIEGO – Shortly after the release of a U.S. Justice Department probe into officer misconduct at the San Diego Police Department found gaps in policies on officer misconduct, the San Diego Police Officers Association, Inc. discussed police staffing.

Since July 1, 2014, 110 officers have left the San Diego Police Department. At least 19 of them have headed to other agencies.

“We have a lot of senior officers retiring early or to other agencies. What we want to do is keep them here so we have that experience,” Officer Brian Marvel said.

Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association, said while misconduct cannot be entirely blamed on a lack of senior officers, the two go hand in hand.

“I don’t want to say that staffing in its entirety is a pass for officers to do bad behavior, because I don’t think it’s acceptable at any level. The reality was our supervision at certain levels wasn’t necessarily there the level it used to be in the past.”

Marvel was referring to the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) report which cited, in part, four incidents where officers were accused of sexual assault, two cases of officers driving under the influence and three cases where internal cover-ups were attempted to be made.

It also pointed to staffing and budget cuts dating back to fiscal year 2010.

“We need experience. We need accountability. We need supervision and we have lost so many officers over the years, so that report just validated what we already knew,” San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said.

With fewer experienced officers leading the department, there was more room for junior officers to make costly mistakes.

The question is…will money fix misconduct?

Pending City Council approval, a new 5-year contact including raises and a uniform allowance for officers may increase officer retention.

“It is our belief that with this compensation package we’ll be able to compete with other agencies, especially other local agencies that many of our officers were leaving for better pay, better benefits,” Zimmerman said.

Marvel echoed her enthusiasm about the new contract that would go into effect this summer, at the start of a new fiscal year.

“Our goal was to focus on the officers who were actually leaving for other agencies. That’s why you see a delineation between officers that have less than 8 years versus officers that have more than 8 years,” he said.

Pumping money into recruiting and academy classes are also part of the new contract.

Wednesday afternoon’s meeting before the City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee also included a presentation on SDPD body cameras and their success rate in the field.

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3 comments

  • TrueCitizen

    Im sorry but as is told in business, experience does not mean better judgement, it may in fact only mean knowing a way around the rules. This is a new age and people dont stick around if they work for idiots, ideals they dont agree with, or if they are not treated well. It applies to cops too, they have one of the toughest jobs out there and motivation is key!

  • Fred

    One of the real problems with SDPD is they continue to promote people based on a need to balance out the “more women, blacks and hispanics” in supervisory roles. Instead of promoting the best for the job they fill holes to keep diversity. That’s one of the supervisor problems on that department. Next time you look at an officer with 3 stripes down his or her sleeve, look and see how many stars are on their name tag. Each star equals 5 years of service. Take a look at how many Sergeants with the 3 stripes have only one star….it’s scarey. Then look at the men and women with one bar on their collar. Those are Lieutenants. There are some with only one star and many with only 2 stars. 10 years on and they’re being promoted to a second level supervisor. One thing that needs to be done is mandate 10 years experience before you can become a police supervisor and only after you become a detective. Supervisors have to investigate their officers if they’ve done something wrong. How can they be investigated if their supervisor has done nothing more than patrol work? Then after 5 years as a Sergeant you can apply for Lieutenant and so on to Captain and Chief. Then you’ll have supervisors with experience on how to handle their young officers. There are many officers out there with 15-20 years experience and end up having to work for. Sergeant with 5 years on. There’s a lack of respect and that’s when issues can happen. The officers have no respect for the baby Sergeants and the baby Sergeants are afraid of their senior officers.

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