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Austin PD tries to poach San Diego’s cops and SDPD
People like to live in San Diego. I took a pay cut when leaving one prosecuting agency to be a prosecutor here in San Diego. Most giveernment agencies know this and can pay accordingly via supply and demand. There will always be a supply of people wanting to work in San Diego. San Diego will not be sending recruiters to other cities.
SDPD and law enforcement have the additional benefit of being the desired home and current locations of several former military. Several of these people get out and look to law enforcement.
As a taxpayer we do not need to pay police more. There is ample supply of people wanting to be police. There is people who want to be in San Diego. They should be paid accordingly. However, there is no need to raise salaries to what already is a handsome package.
I know San Diego is not a cheap place to live. I also have seen older officers not necessarily being better and aging. Based on the totality of this I would tell anyone in charge of my taxpayers dollars to be wise with the purse strings. Salaries now becomes pensions later straddling the city for decades.
Recruiters from the Austin Police Department were in San Diego Monday and Tuesday offering tempting employment packages to San Diego police officers.
The move came amid negotiations for a new contract between the city and San Diego’s police union and two weeks after a survey showed San Diego police officers don’t make as much as officers at other departments in the county and other big California cities.
The Austin Police Department pitched what it said were competitive salaries, incentive pay and retirement packages to San Diego officers and the public at the Double Tree in Mission Valley on Monday, and at the San Diego Police Officers Association Hall on Tuesday, in a total of five sessions. Patrol officers can make from $56,961 to $92,477 at the Texas department. Patrol officers can make from $54,000 to $76,000 in San Diego, according to the department’s website.
Austin police Lt. Jerry Gonzalez said the department has been aggressively recruiting officers with experience over the last several years, and after seeing an opportunity in Los Angeles and San Diego, recruiters planned a visit.
“When we hear news affecting the officers, maybe officers are upset about pay or pensions or benefits, we will go to those areas,” he said. “If they are going to leave because of the situation, we try to be proactive.” The message from Austin: “‘Think of us.'”
Gonzalez said they hoped their recruiting efforts in San Diego and Los Angeles would help fill a modified police academy class for experienced officers slated for July 2015.
He said his department asked permission from the San Diego Police Officers Association to make its pitch and got a yes. The visit has been a couple months in the works, because the Texas department wanted to bring a former SDPD officer and a former LAPD officer now working in Austin to talk with interested officers.
“I can tell another officer how good it is here, but if I have an officer from there who has come over here and he can say how it is, how much better is that?” Gonzalez said.
A little more than a week ago the San Diego department pushed out a recruiting video to court new officers. The department needs to fill its ranks with fresh faces, Chief Shelley Zimmerman said, but it’s equally important to keep the ones they have. The department is losing much more than bodies when an officer goes to another department, she argues. It’s losing experience. She said more than half of patrol officers have six or fewer years with the department, and that number is closer to 70 percent in some areas.
“It is critical that we retain our experienced officers to continue with the training of younger officers,” Zimmerman said. “Certainly we do great training here, but you’re not ready to be the next homicide detective the day you get out of the academy.”
She said the chief of the Austin Police Department told her at a conference a few months ago that his recruiters would be visiting San Diego.
“I looked right at him and said, ‘Well, I guess you know where to get the best’ and he said ‘Yes, I do,'” she said.
Zimmerman said she understands why officers might be tempted by the offer. Sure, they want more take home pay, but what they’re really looking for is stability after what feels like years of cuts, she said.
“Our officers tell us they love the San Diego Police Department and they love working here, but they have needs too,” she said. “It is a very competitive market for police officers.”
Currently the city and the San Diego Police Officers Association are negotiating a new contract and neither side could comment on the progress. According to the city’s five-year financial outlook published a couple of weeks ago, the city has proposed spending at least $30 million on police contracts from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2020.
“Mayor Faulconer understands the recruitment and retention crisis in the Police Department and has taken steps to address it,” said Director of Media Relations Craig Gustafson. “He included $3.2 million in this year’s budget for retention efforts. That money is for additional holiday pay for our officers. He also included funding for 172 police recruits in four academies this year. That’s an increase of 36 recruits compared to last year.”
Zimmerman said she knows of officers who are looking into Austin’s offer, but didn’t provide an exact number.
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