A five-year contract between the city and San Diego Police Officers Association that took effect today is meant to stem the tide of sworn personnel leaving the San Diego Police Department.
The deal, which includes 3.3 percent pay raises in each of the final two years, is designed to reduce the number of officers leaving for better compensation at other law enforcement agencies.
According to a report delivered to the City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhood Committee, 153 officers left the department during the fiscal year that ended Tuesday, with at least 21 going to other agencies.
The departures left the SDPD 160 officers short of the 2,013 budgeted positions, according to Chief Shelley Zimmerman.
Of those still employed, 118 are in police academies or field training, according to the report.
“It is my belief that the new labor agreement that does take effect today for our police officers will greatly assist our police department in recruiting the very best to join our police department, and also to retain our highly experienced (and) trained police officers,” Zimmerman said.
She said the deal increases take-home pay for officers, making SDPD pay competitive with nearby agencies.
“I would anticipate that this time next year, our staffing numbers will look much different, and in a positive way,” Zimmerman said.
Some trends are already heading up.
The chief said the total of 153 officers who left the department over the last year was less than the past couple of years, and most of the recent instances were retirements, not defections to other police departments. Also, 39 prospective employees in the middle of the SDPD hiring process opted for jobs at other agencies over the past year — also fewer than in prior years.
An academy beginning next month could include 50 new officers, the most in one class in 10-15 years or more, the chief said.
Recruiting efforts in diverse neighborhoods have paid off, with half of recent classes consisting of women and racial minorities, according to the SDPD.
The report says the department is 45 civilian employees short than the 526 called for in the budget. More than 60 left the SDPD in the just-completed fiscal year, according to the report.