I want a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a 3000 sq foot house in Mission Hills, a nanny for the kid, a housekeeper for the wife … Wow what an unbelievable dream! I better wake up and realize that I have a budget to live within and I can not afford these things. Furthermore, no matter how much money I save from cutting coupons, putting in new energy efficient light bulbs, getting rid of cable, and eliminating my home phone line; I will never be able to afford these things without generating massive amounts of new income into my household.

The same thing holds true for the politicians of this city. They all want to provide great recreation choices, well-maintained parks, and extended hours for libraries and community centers. At the same time they do not have the courage to tell citizens that if you want these luxury items, while still providing essential services like police and fire protection, you have two choices. The residents and businesses of this community can pay for them or the people who visit this city can pay for them.

Either way, somebody needs to pay a whole lot more for them.

How much more? Well that is a good question and I have some preliminary figures in mind. According to the Police Classification Compensation and Benefits Survey Results produced by Buck Consultants, many of the cities in this county actually have recruits taking home more money in their pay checks than experienced officers from the San Diego Police Department. In fact, I believe we should rid ourselves of the fluff in the Buck report and focus on the cities in the county and region that have recruited our experienced SDPD officers. By doing this you can begin to see the take home pay increases SDPD officers have realized by transferring to other departments, while also receiving the same retirement and better overall compensation plans.

Take home pay differences between SDPD and comparison cities:

PO Recruit 32-45 difference $11,310-16,337 $13,823 Avg.

POI 27-50% difference $10,646-21,280 $15,963 Avg.

POII 13-22% difference $6,851-12,439 $9,645 Avg.

Sgt. 16-23% difference $13,345-16,360 $14,853 Avg.

Lt. 10-17% difference $8,080-16409 $12,244 Avg.

For my analysis, I used the following cities: Carlsbad, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Escondido, National City, Oceanside, SDSO, Anaheim, Murrieta, Riverside, and the county of Riverside. The low number represents how much a pay raise an SDPD officer would receive if he is not providing health benefits to his family and the high number represents the take home increase if he is a participant of a family health plan offered by the city.

I got rid of Buck’s salary numbers from Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernardino County, and Phoenix. SDPD has not lost any current officers to these agencies and I doubt we will in the future.

Now comes the really interesting part of my number crunching. If the city of San Diego just wants to give just the average salary raise needed to bring SDPD Officers in line with the rest of the region, the extra costs start at $20,679,579. I came up with this amount by multiplying the number of officers (as of Jan. 16, 2007) in each of the police classifications listed above by the corresponding average salary increase needed to reach parity with other cities. Since the SDPD staffing reports are confidential, I am unable to produce them here. However, I bet the Independent Budget Analyst has the reports and I would gladly accept someone from her office checking my work or contacting me. By the way, that $20,679,000 is based off a department that is short about 200 cops and one that wants to increase its staffing levels by about 400 officers in the upcoming fiscal years to keep pace with the demands of San Diego residents.

The reality of these numbers gets even harsher when you consider that almost all other cities in the region already have negotiated contracts in place for their police employees that call for, on average, a 4 percent pay raise to take effect July 1, 2007.

Is anyone else getting the picture here? Even if the SDPOA made sizable compromises in negotiations with the city, there is no getting around the fact a true commitment to making pay comparable for San Diego Police Officers requires the dedication of a huge amount of money this year just to catch up, followed by additional tens of millions of dollars to the police budget year after year to keep up with everybody else.

The reality of this should really be hitting home by now. The city of San Diego needs a committed revenue source for public safety or it will never be able recruit and retain the officers needed to keep this America’s Finest City.

By the way, I challenge anyone to check my data or dispute my analysis by reading the San Diego Police Department’s Five-Year Plan, the salary survey from Buck Associates, or by reading the Memorandums of Understanding for other cities contained on the Police Officers Research Association of California at www.porac.org.

I am not trying to hide anything, which is going to bring me to my last and probably most controversial point of this blog. It may surprise people in this city, that many San Diego Police Officers and a few on the San Diego Police Officers Board of Directors are intrigued by City Attorney Mike Aguirre’s effort to make negotiations available to public view. It is their feeling that we’re already so far behind everybody else in compensation, that it just can not get much worse and the public should be aware of it.

I have some final thoughts coming up in my last blog.


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