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Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2006 | Re: “Leaving SD for Chula Vista? Think Again.” My friend e-mailed me the opinion piece Scott Lewis mentioned me in while addressing the subject of officers leaving San Diego PD for Chula Vista PD. I realize Lewis wrote an opinion piece, but with that fact in mind, I do not understand how he read the article Tony Manolatos wrote and came to the conclusion that I want to move to Chula Vista PD because I do not want to pay my pension cost or that I am concerned about the future weight gain of my wallet.

After I address the pension payment issue with Lewis, I would like to tell him in detail why I made the decision to apply with Chula Vista PD. In any profession industry standards develop overtime and law enforcement is no different. In California a few industry standards have developed over the years related to police pensions. The two most common are 3 percent at 50, retirement. This gives officers the option to retire at the age of 50 years of age and collect 3 percent of their pay for each year of law enforcement service. Most police agencies offer the option for an early retirement age, because statistically speaking police officers die earlier then the general public. The second common retirement related standard of the industry is that most cities pay the employee’s share of the employee contribution to the retirement plan. This is a very common practice throughout the state. You can view the benefit comparison chart in the mayor’s retention plan to see this is common place.

I was impressed with the research Lewis did related to the city of Chula Vista, but if he wanted to know why I applied to Chula Vista why didn’t he call and ask me instead of making his own assumptions? If he took the time to call and speak to me about this issue, he would have learned money or paid benefits are not the primary factor for my decision to apply with Chula Vista PD.

I thought my reasons for applying with Chula Vista PD were clearly stated in the article when I was quoted as saying, “At this point in my career, I want security, stability and hope. I feel like I am in limbo with San Diego PD, and I hate that feeling.” This quote is in the article in the body of the story and in large bold font at the bottom of the page. I am tired of the long term stress associated with not knowing what bad thing is going to happen next and wondering when someone is going to stand up and give SDPD officers some hope. Not to mention the fact that morale is bad and staffing is too low for me to provide the proper level of service to my victims.

If Lewis would have taken the time to speak to me about this subject rather then jumping to conclusions, he would have learned I have a strong bond and attachment to the SDPD. I have been a member of the San Diego PD since I was 20 years old. I turned 21 while I was in the police academy. I have no beef with the SDPD and I have a lot of great friends there. Because I started my career so young, I find myself in the unique position in which I can leave SDPD after almost 22 years of service and start a second police career with CVPD. If I was in my late 40s, I would not have applied with CVPD.

I have investigated Chula Vista PD, and I was impressed with what I found. I found a forward thinking police department with a city that has made the commitment to take of their police officers. I found a city government that does not have an adversarial relationship with its police officers. What I saw at Chula Vista was refreshing. I saw a city that is growing and prospering. I saw a great working environment. I found a group of professional and dedicated officers, with very high morale. I think Chula Vista is the right fit for me.

I have other reasons I applied for Chula Vista. I feel comfortable there. I lived in Chula Vista for over eight years. One of my kids graduated from Hilltop High. I am very familiar with Chula Vista. Chula Vista is the only police department I have applied with and if I am not hired, I will continue to remain a proud and member of the San Diego Police Department.

I guess the simplest way to put it is I see things working out better for me in the long run with Chula Vista PD. I want to go to work and worry about is going on in the streets, not what is going on at City Hall.

I know the truth doesn’t always make the best story and that’s probably why you didn’t bother to recognize the real meaning of Manolato’s article. Hopefully, the next time around you’ll make a phone call to collect the real facts before writing an article…opinion piece or not.

Lawrence is a detective in the San Diego Police Department

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