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Statement: “In the last five years, I’ve had 345 officers leave the city of San Diego and go to other cities for better benefits, higher wages, and better vehicles and equipment. In that same five-year period I’ve had only 35 officers come to the city of San Diego,” San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne said at a law enforcement conference in April.

Determination: False

Analysis: Lansdowne, speaking during the April conference in Seattle, boasted about the resilience of San Diego’s police officers in the face of economic turmoil and the public vilification of their pensions.

Despite budget and political pressures, the chief noted during a panel discussion, crime has continued to fall in San Diego. Police reported 29 murders last year — fewer than any other year in San Diego since the 1960s.


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But then Lansdowne shifted the conversation and implied that his police officers are underpaid compared to those at other law enforcement agencies. According to a transcript posted online by conference organizers, he said:

In the last five years I’ve had 345 officers leave the city of San Diego and go to other cities for better benefits, higher wages and better vehicles and equipment. In that same five-year period I’ve had only 35 officers come to the city of San Diego.

But Lansdowne’s numbers don’t match the Police Department’s official counts. Between the 2006 and 2010 fiscal years, the department counted 182 officers leaving for other agencies and 18 being hired from other agencies. Lansdowne’s numbers were proportional to the department’s counts, but exaggerated the impact to total staffing.

The Police Department’s numbers aren’t exact. The number of officers who leave for other agencies doesn’t include, for example, people who retire and then get hired by another agency. For that reason, it’s considered a conservative estimate.

But it’s unclear what information Lansdowne might have been referring to if not his own department’s numbers. A police spokeswoman and two top police officials, first contacted Friday about this Fact Check, did not respond to requests for an explanation before today’s story deadline.

We’ve called the statement False since it exaggerates the department’s own statistics.

Keegan Kyle is a reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He writes about public safety and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/keegankyle.

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