Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

Why Are Officers Leaving The San Diego Police Department?

San Diego police officers pull over drivers in the Skyline neighborhood of San Diego on June 9, 2015.
Katie Schoolov
San Diego police officers pull over drivers in the Skyline neighborhood of San Diego on June 9, 2015.
San Diego Police Still Losing Officers
San Diego Police Still Losing Officers GUEST:Shelley Zimmerman, Chief, San Diego Police Department

San Diego police officials thought the increase in salaries and benefits they got last year's budget was turned around the officers leaving the fourth but not so. According to San Diego police chief Shelley Zimmerman is experiencing the same attrition rate so how is your. And behind 2014 and 2015. Joining me is San Diego police chief Shelley Zimmerman welcome to the program. Is losing about 13 officers every month, why are the leading? First of all I want to let people know that we are hiring but they are leaving for a variety of reasons, some are retirement, some are going to other agencies, or finding is that after to go to smaller agencies, though they are leaving, many of them are leading the profession altogether or maybe hired in the private sector in some type of security field it's a different reasons, right reasons. San Diego County Sheriff says they moved to Charlotte this year, he also says his department had no trouble keeping up his numbers that I. Obviously different between the two? I will tell you we had years are just hired in small numbers we didn't hire at all and do nothing time that were not hiring, we had many officers leave it hundreds, had left over those years of yourself a project with that so that's part of the reasons. Usually more public scrutiny of police officers actions are contributing to offices wanting to leave the fourth that's what I was referring to do have some officers that are getting out on the profession are going to smaller agencies, national dialogue that's going on is not the. They're not being trusted and we have seen instances across the country where unfortunately it are horrific, are terrible instances across the country but to put into perspective, for ourselves we did last year more than 1.4 million called intercommunication Center, we can contact and millions of people, responded to more than 562, responded to more than 562,000 incidents and we had so few complaints and talking about body cameras and everything else, and 0.87% of those incidents we used how to use some type of force, instances of force so is really just a very small number that talk about his have to explore other areas of possible concerns, we heard some police officers might have concerns with the management practices, within the police department are looking into that We look at everything. We are the largest city in the United States, we have the regulations, many of them have been implemented, when the leaders and body cameras, the teachings in the Academy, talking about procedural justice, effective interaction, emotional intelligence, we have quite a few changes in our police department over the last couple of years and that we believe these have been all politics. Speaking of public scrutiny, city Council committee is a coherent proposal about increasing the power of the San Diego citizens please review board, the proposal includes adding subpoena power and investigators from the committee and allow you to hire its own attorneys to assist in the inquiries. You think that would help law enforcement in San Diego? I think that we folder charter, 100%, regarding our independent citizens review board from police practices and will continue to follow the charter on that you have many interactions with police chiefs across the country, a lot of citizens across the country have citizens review is with don't the powers, that the powers and so far. What the abilities has is a cement are not independent citizens reports, the volunteers that join the citizen review board, I think they are very dedicated, I think it would great job and looking at the cases in the oversight of our police department and I think they do a good job. As you follow this is in the public went to the ballot box and decided to go for an enhanced if you will citizens review board, without something you would support? You think that would be a good thing when they open the window for the Police Department? Again we follow the charter 100%, if there's any changes we will follow those basic the Department of Justice was recently asked in 26 community groups to look into the San Diego Police Department use of force when dealing with the mentally ill. This request stems largely from the shooting death of [Indiscernible name] to think it's time to take a look at how officers are trained and interactive mentally ill people Asked you responded to more than 18,000 calls, mental health calls, and each one of them are represented and visual it was a crisis. Consider the Academy of continuing education regarding the escalation of incidences and emotional intelligence and effective communication, effective interaction, procedural justice, and our department has been a leader in many of these classes that we put on so I said before, when we talk about when we get the analysis of the body cameras, they had to use a minimum [Indiscernible] and the instances we responded to within 0.87% of the time and I was body cameras we have seen more than 18% increase in outstanding or controlling force option The body worn cameras, why did you think it's resulted in that decreased use of force. I think is a common issue, not just the body worn cameras that healthy de-escalate situations, the officers left individuals know in many cases at that your actions are being the case, the officer's actions are being irritated so that healthy de-escalate. We are also teaching our officers is to get additional resources to the scene, that might be additional patrol officers, sages don't have one officer handling that incident, you also officers and to also have other resources that can respond to this the into de-escalate these individuals that they are in crisis. How specifically dusty Police Department look into a controversial case when there is an officer involved shooting? What is the procedure that you go about and do you think it can be improved? We have many different check and balances that happen anytime there's an officer involved shooting. The first thing that happens is our homicide unit goes out and we get a criminal investigation into what had occurred. When they are done, if forwarded to the district attorney's office. Conducts an independent investigation, depending is going to charge the officer or not and from there goes to internal affairs, will take again comprehensive methodical comprehensive analysis of the policies and procedures to see if they were in with our shooting, within our policies and then it goes to the independent citizens review board on police practices that will take a look at, also in addition to that people go to the shooting review board, take a look at training tactics, and also now starting this year is that the FBI has a pretty will take a look at all officer involved shootings not just at the San Diego apartment in the County of San Diego and so as you can see there's a lot of checks and balances that go on everything look at each one of those they are independent of each other, if you are looking at Most of that is really law enforcement investigating themselves pretty positive business citizens review board, and did not independent investigators, you can't conduct their own investigation, they have to rely on information provided by the Police Department. I wanted to see a problem there with the law enforcement investigating itself and basically having something in coming up with a good result. Each one is independent, each of these processes are independent, very comprehensive, methodical, and again independent review board and police practices citizen report a tremendous job. They had access to every piece of information which would include the body worn cameras, the have additional questions, they can ask and those of the answers. Each one is independent. Chief Zimmerman you told us already your present information to the city Council this week on how going cameras are working for the Police Department. You have given us some of your findings, there is a lower incidence of use of force, that would imagine that overall your finding is positive? Very true. We are proud that we are on the largest cities in the United States and we have the highest percentage of deploying body worn cameras to control would officers and we are leader in technology, are procedures, guidance, expertise, is sought after for many Police Department, not just in our country but worldwide. We are probably the leader of the technology and when we embarked on this, we took a look at what was out there there really wasn't much out there now we are the ones that we goes binomial to somebody either in our country or another countries about our deployment of bodywork, so resolve this. Win-win. Win-win for police officers and for community One controversy with those cameras is making them accessible to the public to Forcier changes? We had offloaded more than ¬727,000 into our secure evidence-based system since the Department of bodywork cameras to release ¬727,000 that something that were looking at to do. There is a countywide protocol we are working on regarding officers involved shootings, we're looking at the district attorney, Sheriff, to come up with what will be a responsible release in contact with every other piece of evidence after the judicial review regarding officer involved shooting videography Really quickly there is information that we collectively have been waiting for for months for release of the commission study study of racial profiling that study has apparently been ready for some time and won't be released until May. That the San Diego Police Department asked for that? Nobody asked for it to be delayed. The study is not complete. It's my understanding that -- The racial profiling part was complete a few months ago and was delayed. The Police Department did not do a feature the latest release, if anything as a matter-of-fact we routinely and really give out information regarding our stop, and we all believed that the study is not done. San Diego State researchers are not done, it was not his finally, your answer to the continuing rate of attrition, located in the Police Department do? While I will tell you we are hiring so if you want me career opportunities you can make a positive difference in someone's life every single day, join the San Diego Police Department. Service above self, teamwork, integrity, honesty, collaboration conformation, with all enforcement and our community we so proudly served. I've been speaking with San Diego chief Shelley Zimmerman thank you so much

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.”

What questions do you have about the Statewide General Election coming up on Nov. 8? Submit your questions here, and we'll try to answer them in our reporting.