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San Diego police officers may not be getting an across-the-board raise this year, but the Police Officer’s Association has been successful in pushing the creation of a new police officer position, a Police Officer III.

The new position, like its counterpart over at the Fire Department, Firefighter III, comes with a pay raise of up to 5 percent.

The new rank, which the POA has been pushing for since 2003, will only be available to some officers, said Assistant Police Chief David Ramirez. Police Officer IIs will have to pass a test to be promoted and not all of them are going to get the pay raise, he said. But he said Police Department research showed there are “big numbers” of people who could be promoted. The city currently budgets for 1,602 Police Officer IIs.

Ramirez said the department “reclassified” 15 vacant Police Officer II positions into Police Officer III positions on November 12, 2008, and hopes to promote officers into each of those positions. None of those positions have yet been filled, Ramirez said.

Each promotion would cost taxpayers $3,836, and 15 would cost $57,541. Looking forward, the department may promote many more officers to Police Officer III, Ramirez said.

But there’s no mention of a Police Officer III position in the mayor’s 2010 proposed budget. Ramirez said that’s because the city is currently moving over to its new budgetary system that will classify all the positions differently.

“When we get the final budget, there will be lots of changes,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said the new rank will be available to police officers with 12 years of experience. The new Police Officer IIIs will be “informal leaders” on the squad, he said.

“Sometimes younger officers need help with writing reports, handling large crime scenes, that sort of thing,” Ramirez said.

Don’t experienced officers already help out their less experienced brethren? I asked.

“Some of them do, but they may not,” Ramirez said. He said the new position, and the raise that comes with it is not simply longevity pay.

WILL CARLESS

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