‘Crime rates are likely to rise’ if police retention isn’t addressed, Alvarez says
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — In an effort to address the retention problem San Diego police departments are facing, Councilman David Alvarez proposed further pay increases and better training programs for officers.
The city has spent or committed $140 million over four years, only to see more officers leave the police department, Alvarez, who represents San Diego’s District 8, said.
As well as pay increase and training programs, Alvarez suggests conducting surveys on job satisfaction and commitment to the SDPD, identifying and intervening with employees at risk of leaving, increasing officer input, creating alternate work schedules and more. In total Alvarez presented 30 recommendations on strategies that he believes could improve police retention.
According to San Diego Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman, the department lost more than 100 officers since July 1, when a five-year deal with the San Diego Police Officers Association took effect that was supposed to stabilize the department’s ranks.
In February, the city employed 1,838 officers more than 100 of which are in academies or field training. This falls short of the budgeted level by almost 200 officers, Zimmerman said.
“This is a major problem that greatly concerns me and must be addressed,” Alvarez said in a memo to Mayor Kevin Faulconer, fellow council members and Zimmerman. “Unless the city solves the police officer retention problem, crime rates are likely to rise and it will be difficult to implement true community police strategies.”
Officer retention should be a priority in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, the councilman said. He also suggested that a new comprehensive plan to address officer recruitment and retention be brought before the City Council.
Zimmerman released a statement today that said, “I appreciate everything Mayor Faulconer and the City Council has done to assist our department in our recruitment and retention efforts. I look forward to continuing progress in the upcoming budget as we work to recruit the very best to our department and retain our highly trained officers.”