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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

GUEST:

Shelley Zimmerman, Chief, San Diego Police Department

Transcript

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.”

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