I was a police officer in New Jersey before I joined the San Diego Police Department. There is no comparison that can be made between the two agencies. SDPD is more professional, has more opportunities, is better equipped and has some of the brightest people in law enforcement working here. I did make a lot more money in NJ though and had better benefits, but being a cop was never about the money to me.
In 2001, my wife and I moved 3000 miles and I joined SDPD. I took a $50,000 pay cut, a reduction in rank, and started my career over with SDPD by having to go to another police academy. I did not enjoy the academy when I was in my 20s and I certainly did not enjoy it again in my 30s.
By now, some people are probably wondering if I am crazy. Although the topic is debatable, I believe I made a sound choice for the right reason. I joined SDPD, because I wanted to be a part of the best police department in the country and I made some incredible sacrifices to get here.
I think this is what pains me the most about SDPD. When I joined here, we were the preeminent law enforcement department in the nation. I still think we are pretty darn good at what we do.
However, this department used to have the ability and the staffing to meet the needs of the public and go beyond them. Today, the San Diego Police Department has lost its reputation as being THE place to work. It is an agency primarily concerned about meeting minimum staffing numbers. How can you be the best at anything, when you set your sights on just meeting minimum standards?
I had a ride along the other day that had his final interview yesterday with the department. I believe I told him the same thing I say to everybody interested in a career in law enforcement. You do not take this job for the money. There is no compensation possible for the things you are expected to do as a cop.
This city can never pay you enough for crawling through an alley on Christmas Day looking for a parolee at large while everyone is enjoying the holiday, it will never compensate you for having to tell your wife that you were stuck with a syringe from a felony suspect that is HIV and Hepatitis C positive right as you’re talking about starting a family, and it will never compensate you enough for the incredibly vile and heinous crimes you must investigate.
However, the satisfaction you get from removing someone from society that is just plain evil is indescribable.
I believe there has to be a dialogue between the cops, the citizens, the politicians, and the business leaders of San Diego. Somehow we all have to come together and figure out a way to encourage people to join this department and then figure out a way to keep them around
I had hoped by being on the blog today that I could start a discussion about these topics. I hope you enjoyed my posts.
If there are any questions, my e-mail is listed on the blog.
One last note, I just found out that SDPD put 18 recruits in the academy Monday, not the forty that was reported in the media last week.