Council OKs $2M to recruit, retain cops

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SAN DIEGO — The City Council Wednesday unanimously approved a $2 million program to recruit and retain officers in the San Diego Police Department.

After public comment, Council President Todd Gloria, said the situation is critical.

San Diego Police Department“The current retention rate of eight sworn police officers a month is unacceptable. We have to do something to stop this,” Gloria said.

“We are really struggling to keep our officers here in San Diego,” said Police Chief William Lansdowne, attributing the problem to non-competitive pay and lack of perks. However, now the department is in hiring mode and they want to make sure the officers they train stay and continue with their careers in San Diego.

“It cost us around $140,000 to train an officer, “ said Lansdowne. When officers go to another city for higher pay,  “all that training goes to some other department,” the chief said.

A tentative agreement between the city and Ssn Diego Police Officers Association seeks to close the take-home pay gap by raising a $900 annual uniform and equipment allowance by around $1,000 and ending a 12-month waiting period before police academy graduates can receive the allowance.

The city would also fund recruiting activities and promotional materials, at a cost of $35,000. The money would go to booths at community events and job fairs, and production of a recruiting video, according to a staff report.

“We are in a competitive environment for the best and brightest to be police officers,” Councilman Kevin Faulconer said.  “We see what other cities are doing. The county Sheriff’s (Office) offers a sign-on bonus. We have to be able to compete.”

While everyone agrees this is just a first step, Councilwoman Marti Emerald said the council had the opportunity and failed to pass wage increases in the past.

“Throwing a little money out there is like dancing around the edge of dance floor –- it doesn’t get to the real issues,” Emerald said.  “This city has lacked the political will to pay our officers. That’s why we are here today.”

The SDPOA, for its part, thanked the council for its action.

“Although the monetary sum is only a $1,030 per officer, it does have a significant psychological effect through the department that the city is committed to retaining these officers,” said SDPOA President, Brian Marvel.

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