San Diego City cops underpaid

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – A new study shows San Diego cops are at, or near the bottom of the pay scale when compared to 18 other police agencies, three which are in the county.

This is not new information, but what is new is that the city has finally gotten serious about correcting the problem.

In the last decade, more than 300 officers have left the force for higher pay at other agencies, and half of the current force will eligible for retirement in the next five years.

The cops are frustrated, and hoping this time the deeds match the promises.

“They’re cautiously optimistic. I would put that out because we have gone through a difficult time over the last 15 years,” said Mavel.

There was optimism 15 years ago, then the city ran into financial trouble.

“We had to take some compensation reductions, and then we’ve had stagnant contracts for the last four or five years. Officers, they want to be optimistic that the city is going to do the right thing, but past precedents haven’t really shown that,” said Mavel. 

In the next couple of weeks, Mayor Kevin Faulconer will present a plan to the City Council, and both the mayor and the Council are on record as making public safety the number one priority.

“I’m in negotiations with the police officers association, and the council is going to come together, we’re going to have a plan that makes us competitive, and keeps our officers right here in San Diego where they belong,” said Mayor Faulconer.

Some caparison total compensation numbers by city, including benefits:

San Francisco: $128,500

Chula Vista: $100,000

Escondido: $99,000

National City: $97,000

And dead last, San Diego: $82,000

In past years when the city negotiated a benefit for one union the others got it as well, but not any more.

“My approach is that we have to be very targeted, and we look at where we spend dollars, and where we don’t. Right now its very clear we’ve had a problem with police officer recruitment and retention,” said the Mayor.

The department is not only under paid, it is also under staffed by at least 166 officers, and the attrition rate is growing.

But there appears to be new confidence in the new Council, and the new mayor.

It costs about $200,000 to recruit and train a police officer. That is money that is wasted if that officer decides to leave for higher pay, and many of the most experienced officers are about to retire.

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