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City-Funded Survey Confirms San Diego Police Officers' Complaints About Low Pay

A city-funded study released Thursday shows San Diego’s police officers are underpaid compared to other departments in the county and state.

City-Funded Survey Confirms San Diego Police Officers’ Complaints About Low Pay
The report found San Diego officers' pay ranks near or at the bottom among 18 other departments in California.

The report found San Diego officers' pay ranks near or at the bottom among 18 other departments in California. Overall, the department's sworn personnel earns 15 percent less than the market average.


San Diego Police Officers Association President Brian Marvel said the survey confirms what the officers have known for a long time.

Ranking Of Base Pay For SDPD Positions

Recruit: 18 out of 19

Officer I, II: 19 out of 19

Officer III: 5 out of 5*

Detective: 5 out of 6*

Sergeant: 17 out of 19

Lieutenant: 16 out of 19

Captain: 15 out of 19

*Not every city had the same classifications as San Diego, so fewer agencies were compared for some positions.

Officer I, II, III positions are based on experience.

Police Compensation Survey
A 2014 survey shows how San Diego Police Department salaries stack up against other departments in the state.
To view PDF files, download Acrobat Reader.

"San Diego police officers are at the bottom of the market when it comes to compensation,” he said in a statement. "Our officers are aware of this fact, which is why nearly 300 officers hired since 2005 have left our department for other agencies — at great expense to San Diego taxpayers."


The San Diego Police Department's monthly attrition rate has been on the rise for the past few years. Last year, the attrition rate was so high, it caused a net loss of officers — 160 were hired, but 162 left the department. Marvel has attributed the high departure rate to low pay. The Police Officers Association hosted a series of community meetings earlier this year to publicize the problem.

Marvel said he is looking forward to working with Mayor Kevin Faulconer “to develop a compensation package” that will address the issue.

In a statement, Faulconer agreed the survey underlined a problem.

"I am committed to working with the San Diego Police Department and Police Officers Association to find solutions to this issue that will keep our neighborhoods safe and uphold the highest standard of public safety for San Diego visitors, residents and families," he said in a press release.

The survey compared the base pay of eight positions within the San Diego Police Department to 18 other agencies: Anaheim, Bakersfield, Carslbad, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Escondido, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, National City, Oakland, Oceanside, Riverside, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Ana.

The city funded a similar study in 2007 that found San Diego’s salary and benefits were comparable to 18 other agencies, but its health care costs and pension contributions put officers' take home pay near the bottom of the list.

Officers received a raise later that year and another in 2008, but suffered from budget cuts in 2009.

The new study was conducted by Segal Waters Consulting and cost $68,500, according to the mayor's office. Faulconer authorized the contract in May and the report was supposed to be completed in August, but was delayed multiple times.