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Addressing SDPD’s Retention Problem Begins With More Pay, Officers Say

Photo caption: San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman talks about a federal investigation ...

Photo credit: Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman talks about a federal investigation of the San Diego Police Department as Mayor Kevin Faulconer stands beside her on March 24, 2014.

We're sorry. This audio clip is no longer available. A transcript has been made available.

The San Diego Police Department is a lean operation, and it's been that way for a long time. Since budget cuts in 2009 forced the department to downsize it's sworn personnel, the agency has struggled to beef up its ranks.

Officers are increasing leaving the San Diego agency at a record rate. Just last year, more officers left the department than were hired. In September, a report by the Independent Budget Analyst found the department's monthly departure rate was on pace to result in another net loss of officers. The monthly rate has since slowed, but so far this fiscal year, 45 officers have left the department.

San Diego Police Officers Association President Brian Marvel said the high rate of departures is due to officers' low pay. Last week, a city-funded statewide survey of officer compensation confirmed this. The study showed that San Diego officers are last or next to last in salaries paid at nearly every rank, compared to 18 other California law enforcement agencies.

In light of the report's findings, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he is committed to finding a solution to the problem.

San Diego police Chief Shelley Zimmerman agreed.

"In a very competitive market for police officers this study confirms we must immediately address these challenges as we move forward as a department to ensure we attract and retain the very best police officers who proudly serve our City,” she said in a statement.

Zimmerman nor Faulconer proposed specifics to address the problem, but Marvel said he hopes to work with city leaders “to develop a compensation package."

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