I was just wondering about your opinions of the situation/article. Recently, the SDPD was told that they will see a 5yr. wage freeze and there will be no new officers hired during that time.
Does anybody care ?
I have been a resident of San Diego for over 46 years. I have been a San Diego Police Officer for over 26 years. For months I''ve patiently listened to the politicians wailing about the financial crisis embroiling San Diego and the media parroting phrases about how my "lavish benefits" and exhorbitant concessions the city has awarded it's employees have caused the bulk of this mess. Well, all that will eventually be hashed out in the courts and at the bargaining tables.
My concern is, does anybody acutally understand the impact the current administration is causing ? I'm talking only about Police and policing this city as this is the area of my expertise, but the impact eventually will effect all city services. When I started working at my current assignment about nine years ago there were approximately 96 Police Officers assignd to patrol this area. Today there are 67 officers to patrol our ever-growing area. It is not unusual to have only six officers working overnight. I worry about their safety. This is not limited to this one division. Citywide staffing levels are at 55%-65% of what used to be considered budgeted strength. We used to put at least one officer per beat in the area. Now, due to some creative formula, officers are only assigned to a beat wehre "calls for service" meet a certain criteria. I guess the citizens on these other beats will police themselves, won't they ? Does anybody care ?
Now our new Mayor and old city council say we will not get any pay raises for the next 2-4 years and they are going to do their darndest to cut our already-dwindling benefits. Our staffing is already dangerously low. Does anybody care about PUBLIC SAFETY ? We are not getting any incentives to stay and Officers are leaving. Did you know there was a citywide hiring freeze in 2003 and 2004 ? No officers were hired. Our average attrition rate- Officers leaving the department due to medical problems, retirements, terminations, and resignations- is about 8 Officers per month. That means that in 2003-2004 and this year, just with average attrition, we will lose over 275 Officers. This year and next year we will lose over 100 Officers due in large part to the crisis in San Diego.
While we did start hiring in 2005, at best we will be able to fill about 60 positions a year under current conditions. Not only will we never be able to catch up, but we will still be running a deficit of up to 25-40 Officers a year ! Does anybody care ?
Now the point of all this is next. The benefits and salaries we are currently (tentatively at best receiving are comparable to the industry standard. There is not a department or agency in California of any significant size that does not receive similar, and in most cases better, salaries and benefits than San Diego Police. If our salaries and benefits are cut, or at the least left where they are, we will be behind or below the industry standard. Who will apply to an agency that is not competitive in the industry ? The top caliber candidates ? I doubt it. Would you apply? So here we are, living in a city with constant growth and with a Police Department that is shrinking and
cannot attract top qualified Officer candidates. Does anybody care ?
Morale in my Division is as low as I have ever seen it in 26+ years. Officers are actively looking to leave. In my division we have Officers filling in as Sergeants, Sergeants filling in as Lieutenants, and even a Lieutenant acting as a Captain for awhile. Who's filling in for the Officers on the streets ? Does anybody care ? I find it hard to care anymore, and that scares me. The citizens of San Diego should be scared too.
Does anybody care ?