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Council approves $2 million SDPD officer retention program

The City Council Wednesday unanimously approved a $2million program to recruit and retain officers in the San Diego Police Department.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The City Council Wednesday unanimously approved a $2 million program to recruit and retain officers in the San Diego Police Department.

Large disparities in take-home pay between the SDPD and competing departments are causing San Diego to lose around eight to 10 officers a month, and recent recruiting efforts are barely making a dent in the problem, according to the San Diego Police Officers Association.

A tentative agreement between the city and SDPOA seeks to close the take-home pay gap by raising a $900 annual uniform and equipment allowance by around $1,000 and ending a 12-month waiting period before police academy graduates can receive the allowance.

The city would also fund recruiting activities and promotional materials, at a cost of $35,000, according to the plan. The money would go to booths at community events and job fairs, and production of a recruiting video, according to a staff report.

"We needed action to demonstrate to our police officers and the public that the city is committed to an effective -- and emphasis on competitive -- a competitive police department that meets job market demands and has the resources to protect San Diego neighborhoods,'' Councilman Kevin Faulconer said.

He said the item that was approved was only a "first step'' in retention efforts.

While the vote was 8-0, Councilwoman Marti Emerald said the first step should have been pay raises to police officers in recent contract negotiations.

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf responded that the council was responding to a crisis with the program and doesn't have unlimited money.

At a meeting in June, some council members said the city is paying $100,000 to train the officers, only to lose them to other law enforcement agencies. Also, nearly half of the SDPD officers will be eligible to retire in four years, according to the police union.

San Diego, a city of around 1.3 million people, has about 300 fewer uniformed officers than a decade ago, according to Faulconer. The current force includes about 1,800 officers.

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