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Public Safety

City Council Unanimously Approves 5-Year Contract With Police Officers

San Diego police officers stand in a line revealing a patch on the right shoulder of their uniforms in this undated photo.
Nicholas McVicker
San Diego police officers stand in a line revealing a patch on the right shoulder of their uniforms in this undated photo.

The San Diego City Council on Monday unanimously approved a five-year contract with the San Diego Police Officers Association that includes 3.3 percent raises in each of the deal's final two years.

The compensation agreement is designed to help the San Diego Police Department retain experienced officers, who have been leaving for other law enforcement agencies in droves for several years, and to recruit new cadets into the police academy.

In addition to the pay increase, the package includes equipment and uniform bonuses, and incentive-based increases.


Chief Shelley Zimmerman said the contract should put "a huge dent" in the SDPD's retention and recruiting problems.

"What this does is it makes us competitive again with all these other agencies," Zimmerman said. "We're back in the market, we're going to be able to compete to get the very best coming to our department and retaining our experienced officers to give that guidance, give that mentorship, to our younger officers."

The deal was approved by 88 percent of the SDPOA's membership last month.

City officials expect the contract extension will cost around $92 million over the next five years, with $62 million of that amount stemming from the restoration of holiday pay and an increased healthcare, equipment and uniform allowance.

To hire and train a new officer costs the city around $190,000, which means the SDPD has spent up to $60 million to train officers who now work at other agencies, according to the SDPOA.


"We're going to work to make sure we keep our officers here who want to stay here," SDPOA President Brian Marvel said. "We're also going to work to recruit the best and the brightest...and I hope this contract will attract those types of people."

Zimmerman said in a report to a City Council committee last week that more than 100 officers have left the force since July 1. The SDPD has lost about a dozen officers a month for the last several years, and now stands more than 150 officers short of the 2,013 for which it is budgeted.

She said if the drain could be reduced to nine officers a month, the SDPD would reach the budgeted total by October of next year.

The ultimate goal of city leaders is to return the department's sworn staffing to the 2009 level of 2,128 officers. At the lower rate, that figure could be reached in four years, she said.

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