Mayor Jerry Sanders and Police Chief Bill Landsdowne will roll out their plan Tuesday for recruiting and keeping police officers in San Diego at a time when officers are fleeing the city’s force for other departments.

The report, to be presented to the City Council, acknowledges that the city has a harder time attracting and retaining officers than other local agencies, mostly because San Diego cops are paid lower than nearby departments.

“Over the past year, the primary reason given by officers leaving the Department for other agencies is pay and benefits,” the report states.

The plan does not recommend any potential pay raises for officers, but Sanders acknowledges that pay levels at the city are not competitive. The police union has had a pay freeze imposed upon its members for the second straight year.

Hiring police officers is already difficult enough because police departments are competing with fire departments, the military and homeland security agencies for a shrinking pool of qualified and interested applicants. The desirable labor pool for these professions is very similar based on the requirements that applicants have a clean criminal record, are physically fit, are willing to work in dangerous conditions and have a at least a high school education.

To kick off the recruitment plan, the mayor plans on spending $225,000 on a consultant to maximize the city’s recruitment efforts, which lag other large law enforcement agencies in Southern California, and to purchase additional advertising materials.

Sanders also wants the department to pay uniform and equipment costs for recruits upfront. the expenses are currently paid for by the recruit.

To retain officers, the mayor plans on conducting a survey of law enforcement agencies that will compare several different aspects of payroll, such as take-home pay, benefit levels for health care and retirement plans, and pay-raise steps within a job classification.

The city’s preliminary analysis shows that the city of San Diego pays the 10th highest wages out of the 12 law enforcement agencies in the county.

Check back later for updates on this issue.


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