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San Diego Police Officers Get Bump In Uniform Allowance

San Diego Police Officers Get Bump In Uniform Allowance
San Diego Police Officers Get Bump In Uniform Allowance GUEST: Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News

Police officers with the city of San Diego will get more money thanks to a vote last week by the San Diego city Council. Officials are not saying that this will be enough to retain officers and increase police recruiting. The Council met in a special session during the summer recess to vote on increase in the allowances highlighting the urgencies. Joining me with more is Andrew Bowen. Hello, Andrew.Hello.What kind of an increase to the city Council vote on ?It is to the offices uniform and a cleaning allowance. It is between roughly 1500 and $2000, depending on how much experience you have with the department. This is money that the officers can use to buy uniforms and equipment. This is to help offset out-of-pocket expenses they would have coming from the paycheck.They would have to play -- pay for the Mac own universe.They do but they get money from the department to help offset the cost. But where does the money come from ?During the budget process, you might recall, Mayor Faulkner wanted to allocate $5 million to fund a special election. The Council voted to scrap that many and spread it across other priorities and $3 million that was to be spent on the election, the Council chose to spend it on police retention. The mayor vetoed some of the budget changes but he decided to keep that money for police recruitment in place and increase it to $4 million. That is what they allocated on Friday.They posted the allowances because opposition be makes it impossible to get Pete -- the police a salary increase.Is that the right understanding ?That was approved by the voters in 2012. It created a five-year pay freeze. That pay freeze expires in July 2018. A huge number of employees are due to get pay raises. The Council has used the uniform allowance for police officers as an easy way to give them extra money without violating the terms.We have been talking about the police recruitment for years. Where does it stand?It has gotten worse. The ranks are thinning and chief Simmerman said that they have just about 1800 officers that are currently employed and that includes recruits in the Academy and officers that are in field training. About one third of the police force is eligible for retirement. It is an old police force. That is because of the number of poor hiring decisions over a long period of time and not staggering hiring over a period of time. So many are about to retire Alex Schmidt all at once and it could get worse cents.How much of it comes down to the fact that agencies pay more than San Diego or are there other factors that are driving officers from our department to other municipalities ?Officials assume that it is largely about pay. There is evidence to back that up. Rookies in Chula Vista get more money than rookies in San Diego. The mayor has commissioned a study that was funded in his budget and it is due out in October, looking at police recruitment and wire officers leaving. This will be done by an outside human resource consulting firm. There was a desire to not just trust what the police would was saying but hire somebody from the outside who could be more independent. There could be other factors at work beyond just pay and benefits. Low morale can be caused by a number of different things. It is not clear, based on my conversation with the mayor's office, whether that study will focus on the other potential factors or if it will be exclusively on compensation.Do we know when that will be released ?It should be out in mid-October expect next month but they will start the budget negotiations. What are you looking for ?It is likely that some police officers look at races and perhaps better benefits. That is generally what comes out of these things, especially with a climate of police recruitment. They acknowledge how bad it is and we need to do more. Of course, that money come if more money goes to the police department, it has to come from somewhere else. We went through a difficult budget year. There was an $81 million deficit and the city had to cut arts programming and tree trimming. Each has constituency that will fight against those cuts. There are going to be some difficult decisions for city officials to make as they go through the contract negations with the police union. Spec it is expected to be worse next year, right? Some reasons is the pension cost, they are expected to grow more next year.Certainly. The deficits will continue for the next several years. This is because a lot of the retired employees are living longer than we originally expected. More money will pay off their pensions because they are living longer.What happens when we have a shortage of police officers? When people make a call to 911? When you look at crime rates? Do we know what the impact is?I am not sure about crime rates. I have not looked at the date of that we hear a lot of stories in San Diego, people waiting a very long time on hold on the police nonemergency line. The city is doing a relatively good job responding to emergency calls, things in that moment and they need an officer right now. When it comes to nonemergency calls, property crime, if your home was burglarized for your car was stolen, other quality-of-life issues like if you see a suspicious figure walking around, other things like parking violations and graffiti, these are things that have an impact on people's lives but are not necessarily emergencies, those are getting more and more difficult for the police to respond to. During the budget negotiations, people went up to the city saying, this needs to be where the priorities are. They have to be public safety and quality of life as the police department has a role in that. We need to pay officers better. That cannot happen until it is legally allowed but I think it will happen soon.We look forward to those budget negotiations.I am speaking with Andrew Bowen, thank you.

San Diego Police Officers Get Bump In Uniform Allowance
The San Diego City Council has approved an increase to the uniform and equipment allowance for San Diego police officers. The move is part of an effort to address the department's chronic shortage of officers, many of whom are leaving for better pay elsewhere.

The San Diego City Council on Friday approved spending $4 million to boost an equipment and uniform allowance for San Diego police officers in an effort to stem the flow of sworn personnel toward other law enforcement agencies.

At a special meeting, the council voted 6-0 to provide officers an additional $1,473 or $2,100 annually, depending on their classification. The deal was approved by at least 90 percent of the San Diego Police Officers Association's rank-and-file, though final results weren't available, city negotiator Timothy Davis said.

The funding for officers came out of a dispute between the City Council and Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who had sought $5 million to fund a special election this November. Council members voted in June to divert $3 million from the special election to police recruitment and retention. Faulconer vetoed a number of the council's alternative spending plans, but increased the police recruitment and retention line item to $4 million.

San Diego officials have tried for years to address their recruiting and retention problems, including previous allowance hikes and a five-year contract that will soon raise base pay. However, officers are leaving at more or less the same rate as they did before, with other departments in the area paying higher wages.

Chief Shelley Zimmerman told City News Service that as of Monday, 1,801 officers are on the force, which include recruits in the academy and new officers in field training. That figure is 239 personnel below the budgeted level. Four officers have left for other agencies since the fiscal year began July 1, she said.

"We're about ready to dip below 1,800 — I can't remember the last time we were below 1,800," Zimmerman said.

Another problem is about one-third of the total will be eligible for retirement over the next five years. The chief said an academy class with 45 officers is scheduled to begin in a couple of weeks.

City officials said negotiations to amend the SDPOA contract in order to raise pay further are set to begin early this fall. But as Councilman Scott Sherman pointed out, those raises would have to be offset with cuts to other areas in the city budget.

"I just want to make sure everybody stays strong when you start getting those phone calls down the road from those people who are saying don't take away from my department to fund police," he said.

With the meeting taking place during the council's summer recess, members Barbara Bry, Chris Ward and Mark Kersey did not attend.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer's budget for the current fiscal year includes $150,000 for an outside study on police recruitment and retention. Mayoral spokeswoman Christina Chadwick said the city had hired human resources consulting firm Koff & Associates to conduct the study, and that it was expected to be complete in mid-October.