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Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006 | I constantly read articles that vilify San Diego union members and attack their negotiated contracts. I am a member of the San Diego Police Officer’s Assoc. In the last six years, the city and the SDPOA went to impasse three times and disastrous contracts were imposed upon SDPD Officers. The imposed contracts cut take home pay of cops by as much as $800 a month, limited their ability to take time off, led to outrageous health care costs and forced over 100 cops to seek employment with other departments at an approximate cost of 56 million to city taxpayers. Currently, I pay $16,162 a year towards my health and retirement costs. I could easily join a different police department in the area and they would pay 100 percent of these costs, while offering the same retirement plan. I know that my financial sacrifices to remain with SDPD mean very little to many of the citizens I protect and they want more concessions in the upcoming contract negotiations.

They mistakenly believe that SDPD has enough applicants, because they watch Mayor Sanders on KUSI and listen as he says police academies are full. In truth, the latest SDPD recruit class was budgeted for 45 positions, yet SDPD could only get 16 people to join. The U-T recently wrote an article that SDPD would be fully staffed by 2010 based on a statement by a ranking SDPD cop. I laughed out loud when I read it. To be fully staffed by 2010, SDPD would need to hire 897 cops in the next 3 years with a compensation package that is a joke among police departments in the region. Last July, Mayor Sanders called SDPD officer attrition a crisis. I think that is putting it mildly. On many days, SDPD is unable to field enough patrol units to meet its own minimum staffing levels. When cops complained to Chief Lansdowne that this is putting San Diego residents at risk, he honestly replied that he does not have a budget capable of hiring cops on overtime to meet staffing and safety demands.

Deputy Chief Maheu has publicly stated that we are losing more cops than we can find to replace them and Chief Lansdowne has stated a contract with the SDPOA is the only thing that can stop the loss of officers to other departments. Yet, the misinformed public still clamors for more concessions from unions like the SDPOA. I think it is time the public begins to educate themselves about the looming public safety disaster heading towards San Diego and the sacrifices officers are making to remain one of America’s finest.

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