Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006 | I have been asked by several people to submit a letter detailing what has happened in the San Diego Police Department that is causing officers to leave. This will be but a brief overview.
In July 2005 the San Diego Police Officers Association and the city went to impasse on the contract. We refused to accept the contract as it gave us a pay cut of nearly 7 percent. They claim it was not a pay cut, rather an increase in contribution to our retirement. The increase offset reduction from previous contracts in lieu of pay raises. The health benefits also went up considerably, with no adjustments by the city. That very offer was imposed upon us. In July 2006 we also went to impasse. This time mainly because the city wanted to take away our ability to use compensatory time, not the ability to earn it. It saves millions by allowing us to earn it. We do not get to chose when we go to court or work late, taking us away from our families. The city wanted to tell us when and how we could use the time accrued working that overtime.
The health benefits again jumped considerably with no compensation. That contract was also imposed on us. As soon as comp time was gone, minimum staffing numbers began increasing. This is the number of officers that must be on duty per division, although we have yet to make any effort to meet these numbers. We were not able to meet the lower minimum staffing numbers, so how do we expect to meet them now that they are higher and we have fewer officers. On average, taking into account inflation and the numbers above, an officer brings home between 15-20 percent less than they did this time last year. It is well known that our compensation is below the average, but the politicians refuse to do anything about it, to stem the flow of officers leaving, for another year. Unfortunately, the officers are not the only ones suffering. Citizens are under protected, will have to wait unbelievable amounts of time for service and pro-active enforcement (DUI, drugs, theft, gangs, etc) is nearly non-existent.
Most of us pride ourselves on the service we have been able to provide in the past and are embarrassed about our current abilities. We cannot even staff all of our beats, many go unprotected all together. There have been several solutions discussed ranging from revenue to reform to fix the issues facing the city, but something needs to be done immediately to fix public safety!