SAN DIEGO - On Tuesday evening, the San Diego Police Officers Association is holding a recruiting and retention briefing to discuss the problem and possible solutions for officers leaving the department for other agencies.
The SDPOA said staffing is at its lowest levels in more than a decade. There are currently 1,651 full duty officers in San Diego. Sources tell Team 10 morale is at an all-time low.
"It's a very competitive market. In many cases, they're not having to move. The only thing they're changing is the color of their uniforms," said Sgt. Jeff Jordon, the vice president of the SDPOA.
Jordon says it comes down to compensation. A top step police officer makes about $75,941. A deputy with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department makes approximately $84,532, according to numbers from the SDPOA.
Jordon said the difference in pay between the two departments will increase to $17,000 in the next couple of years.
"The facilities are failing, the equipment is failing, the pay is uncompetitive," he said. "People… they have other options."
Sources tell Team 10 officers are more worried about their safety when out on the streets because of the low staffing. They also say the staffing levels put those who live in the city at risk.
A spokesman with the San Antonio Police Department said there are approximately 2,300 sworn officers in their department. The population is similar to that of San Diego. At the Austin Police Department, there are 1,733 sworn officers. The population of Austin, Texas is less than 900,000.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer's press secretary told Team 10 that recruiting and retention is a top priority, "which is why he included $3.2 million in this year's budget for additional holiday pay."
The statement goes on to say:
"He also included funding for 172 police recruits in four academies this year, which is a significant increase compared to last year. Both of these budgetary decisions by Mayor Faulconer won praise from the Police Officers Association and he looks forward to working with the POA to ensure all of our City's public safety needs are met."
Jordon said the money in the budget is not enough.
"Just making sure they're hiring more ... all it means is that we're paying people to leave and go to other agencies," he said.