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Extra Pay For SDPD Cops May Not Be Enough To Retain Them

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Photo by Katie Schoolov

San Diego Police Sgt. Rick Schnell, the leader of the Homeless Outreach Team, greets a homeless man after telling him he needs to move his belongings off of a bridge.

The head of the San Diego police union said officers are happy Mayor Kevin Faulconer included an extra $3.2 million in his proposed budget for police pay, but it may not be enough to keep them from retiring or leaving the department.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposed budget for fiscal 2015 has an extra $3.2 million for police pay. While officers are celebrating that, they aren't convinced yet that the extra money will keep officers from leaving the department.

More than 1,200 officers have left the Police Department since fiscal 2006, and 900 more are eligible to retire in the next four years, according to the San Diego Police Officers Association. That's out of 1,855 officers in the department now.

Brian Marvel, president of the police union, said the added money will partially restore a program that pays officers overtime for working on holidays.

Even so, Marvel isn't sure this pay bump during the fiscal year that begins July 1 will help the department keep officers. Last year, the city gave an extra $2 million for police retention, but he said he still expects the department to lose more officers this year than last year.

"I anticipate our attrition rate for a variety of reasons will be over 130 sworn officers," Marvel wrote in an email. "Last year we lost 119 sworn officers."

While San Diego police officers received raises in 2007 and 2008, they along with all other city employees took a pay cut in 2009. Marvel said the combination of a 1.5 percent pay cut with the trimming of pension payments and health benefits amounted to a 6 percent compensation reduction that year.

Officers received a 2 percent raise this year in a labor agreement that traded pay increases for a freeze on pensionable pay.

Faulconer's proposed budget, which he made public last week, also gives the Police Department's Serial Inebriate Program $120,000 and the Homeless Outreach Team $40,000 as part of a restructuring of homeless funding.

Marvel called Faulconer's budget "a step in the right direction," but said the mayor will have to keep walking the same way to encourage officers to stay.


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Claire Trageser
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a member of the KPBS investigative team, my job is to hold the powerful in San Diego County accountable. I've done in-depth investigations on political campaigns, police officer misconduct and neighborhood quality of life issues.

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