Between March 24 and April 14, six police officers left the San Diego Police Department, according to figures I just got from Capt. Bob Kanaski who runs recruiting at the SDPD. That sounds like far fewer than last month, but it needs more consideration.

I reported last month that in a one-month period, between Feb. 20 and March 20 this year, 25 officers left the San Diego Police Department. That number included nine officers who retired, but sixteen of those officers left to go to other law enforcement agencies, including a slew of investigators who went to work at the district attorney’s office.

The exodus of officers last month, as I pointed out in my story, was due largely to a change in recruitment practices by the District Attorney’s Office. The DA essentially went on a hiring spree at the beginning of the year, but won’t be hiring for the rest of the year. Apart from the DA’s swipe, only four officers left for other police departments during that one-month period.

By contrast, in the shorter, three-week period from March 24 to April 14, six officers left for other departments.

How many officers are leaving the SDPD at the moment is being watched especially carefully since the police department negotiated its first new contract in three years with the city. Police union and city officials have said that contract was aimed specifically at stemming the flow of officers leaving the police force.

Many officers I have spoken to have raised doubts about whether the new contract will stop officers from leaving. The deal was touted as a blanket 8 percent or 9 percent raise for officers, but rank-and-file police officers have pointed out that the concurrent overhaul of their medical benefits system has resulted in some officers receiving raises in the low single-digits while others receive raises as high as 14 or 15 percent.

Essentially, the new deal benefits officers with families who take advantage of the city’s new benefits package. Single officers, and officers who get their benefits through a spouse or elsewhere, do not fare so well.

That’s why the number of officers leaving at the moment is a crucial figure to watch: It will illustrate whether the negotiated offer was enough to stop officers leaving for other departments that pay more than the SDPD.

WILL CARLESS

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