Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Why Are Officers Leaving The San Diego Police Department?

San Diego police officers pull over drivers in the Skyline neighborhood of Sa...

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: San Diego police officers pull over drivers in the Skyline neighborhood of San Diego on June 9, 2015.

San Diego Police Still Losing Officers


Shelley Zimmerman, Chief, San Diego Police Department


A new compensation package launched in July 2015 was supposed to help the San Diego Police Department retain its sworn officers and get closer to filling all budgeted positions.

The department had been near the bottom of the pay scale compared to other large agencies in California before the package kicked in. The increases, which included larger uniform allowances and lower health insurance costs, put San Diego in the center of the scale.

But the improved compensation hasn't helped much, Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday.

In fiscal 2015, the department hired 171 sworn officers, but 153 left. As of March 9 this year, 110 officers have left, but just 134 have been hired. That leaves the department 162 short of its budgeted goal of 2,036 sworn officers.

If nobody quits, the department could catch up to fill its vacant positions. But officers are leaving at the rate of 13 a month.

Zimmerman cited a variety of reasons, including retirement, workload, morale and what she calls "the climate of what's going on."

“[Officers] feel that they're not being trusted,” the chief said.

Zimmerman said the department recently has been making changes such as training in effective interactions and procedural justice.

“We're hiring,” the chief said. “So if you want to have a career opportunity where you can make a positive difference in somebody's life every single day, join the San Diego Police Department.”


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Midday Edition banner

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.