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City approves pay increase for SDPD as more officers leave for other jobs

San Diego police officers to get 10% pay increase as Chief says attrition remains high.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego police officers are getting a pay raise. On June 21, city council approved giving officers a 10% pay increase. 

"A 10% pay raise over the next 13 months within a two year contract is a step in the right direction," said Sgt. Jared Wilson, San Diego Police Officers Association president.

The pay raise comes amid continued worries from San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit and the local police officer's union about staffing shortages at the department as a result of high attrition rates and lower than normal new hires.

According to a May 17 memo from Chief Nisleit to city councilmembers, Nisleit wrote that attrition rates continue to spike.

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"SDPD is facing significant staffing challenges," reads Nisleit's memo. "The impact of these losses is evident in the Department’s total sworn attrition and in its losses to other agencies. These losses per month have risen from 13 officers per month in the three previous fiscal years, to approximately 20 per month in the current fiscal year."

Added Nisleit, "SDPD has already lost 210 sworn officers this fiscal year. When considering pending retirement and lateral transfer applications to outside agencies, SDPD is anticipated to lose at least 240 sworn officers. This is the most since FY09 when SDPD lost 264 officers."

The police officer exodus, says Nisleit, is exacerbated by a steep drop in recruitment. According to the police chief, 921 fewer candidates applied to join the force last year than did in 2020. 

In response, Nisleit says the department could be forced to suspend its ghost gun unit, a homicide team, traffic enforcement, and its neighborhood policing division.

Wilson from the San Diego Police Officer's Association says far more needs to be done as crime rates go up and staffing goes down.

"The homicide rate is spiking right now; we're having trouble recruiting homicide detectives within the police department," said Wilson. "Our response times are at 34 minutes for a priority one call. That's a historic high we've never seen before. We've seen a lot of officers leave out of state to places that are more affordable and while the pay is not necessarily higher, it's higher in terms of cost of living."

Added Wilson, "Today's pay increase puts SDPD in the middle of the pack compared to local jurisdictions in the county, and the lower half compared to agencies throughout California."

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Staffing shortages and low pay have also resulted in another issue, high overtime pay for police and fire employees.

Public records obtained by CBS 8 show the city paid $36.7 million in overtime last year. While last year's overtime payouts were less than the $41 million in 2020, it was far more than 2019 when the city paid $29.5 million to police officers who worked overtime.

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