Half of San Diego cops near retirement

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SAN DIEGO — Sixteen percent of San Diego police officers are eligible to retire right now, and more than half will reach retirement eligibility in four years, the vice president of the San Diego Police Officers Association said Wednesday.

San Diego Police DepartmentThe comments by the association’s Jeff Jordan came during a report — delivered to the City Council’s Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee — on the department’s struggle to recruit and retain officers.

Jordan said those now eligible and the 919 cops soon to qualify for retirement won’t all leave the force immediately, but it’s reasonable to expect most of them will depart within the next nine years.

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf called the numbers “scary.”

The attrition that has already hit the department would cause “heads to roll” in a private company, Jordan said.

He said that of the 888 officers hired by the SDPD since July 2005, 29 percent have already left.

The SDPD has been trying to rebuild its ranks in what Assistant Chief Shelley Zimmerman told committee members is a “very competitive” hiring environment.

The San Diego force recently lost 17 recruits to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department or the police departments of surrounding cities, Zimmerman said. Another 10 left for law enforcement agencies elsewhere in Southern California, she said.

Most of the departures of recruits and seasoned officers were for “economic decisions for their family,” she said.

“It wasn’t necessarily for salary, what they kept telling us it was for take-home pay,” Zimmerman said. “Literally, they could change a uniform — didn’t necessarily have to sell their house to go to another local agency — just change their uniform, and in some cases they’re making $1,100 more a month.”

Jordan said the police union and department have done all they can to address the issue.

“It really falls back in the council’s hands to restore those kinds of services, to figure out how we’re going to stop this mass attrition rate, because when you look at this, we know what’s coming,” Jordan said. “The question is, what are we going to do to stop this together?”

According to Zimmerman, the department had 1,841 sworn officers as of April 1, nearly 130 less than budgeted. Almost 60 of the listed officers are in the recruit academy, while some of the others are injured or deployed with the military, she said.

Despite recent efforts to boost the size of the force, the SDPD has had a net gain of just nine officers since last July, she said.

—– Story by City News Service reporter James R. Riffel


  • Michaelb

    One reason that more officers are not hired is the pension is based on the money earned not salary. The Pension is factored on salary plus overtime and other benefits. Less officers, more overtime. Police union behind that one. How many of the ones that leave find the ticket quota system unpalatable?

    • Al6179

      You're wrong Michaelb and misleading the public. It is not based on overtime at all. What "other" benefits are you talking about??? Before you speak you should know what you are saying.

  • John Smith

    @Michaelb….another clueless drone. The pension payout is based solely on the salary of the employee and there is no overtime or benefits factored in. That is pretty standard in every city. What is different is that SDPD officers pay the absolute highest percentage of their pay into their own retirement of any agency in Southern Cal. I know of only (2) agencies in the entire state that pay a higher rate but both of those agencies have a BASE pay rate that is over $100,000….only $25,000 higher than SDPD.

    The competitve nature that the article speaks to…Pretty much every agency in OC pays 100% of the employees pension (that equals $900 a month minimum at SDPD) and they also have a medical plan that covers the officers entire family. My partner at SDPD has a wife & (2) kids and pays $1100 a month for that same medical coverage. All that on top of those agencies paying $20,000+ more than SDPD.

  • Steve Molnar

    After 15 yrs serving the city. I retired from SDPD 12 years ago and moved on into the Fire Service. This article could easily be pulled verbatim from the papers then. Vastly non competitive salaries coupled with crappy benefits, then heaped on piles of understaffing and outdated equipment. This continually leads to the hemorrhaging of good qualified officers. They went, and continue to leave for much better financial and work environments all over the state. The City Council didn't get it then, and sadly still don't. They have created a perpetual environment that says " We don't value you enough to do what's necessary to keep you ". The situation is no different with the FD….Chronically underpaid and understaffed with substandard equipment….really not difficult to figure it out, yet it seems to continually baffle the " elected " idiots that have populated the passages of City Hall for years…..

  • Big John

    I'm 6'7, 288 lbs (Muscle, not fat lol) I took the SDPD test and I got 74 out of 75 points and they said I failed. The test is not hard at all, but is very confusing. Whoever came up with it probably didn't finish high school or attend college, they just had a lot of years on the force.

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