SDPD Hopes New Budget Will Help Staffing

Approval Of Budget May Mean Additional Officers On Local Streets

The city of San Diego's new budget is being welcomed with open arms by police officers.

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San Diego police continue to respond to emergencies at all hours of the day and night, but they are operating at a low staffing level of 1,845 officers. Just over a decade ago, there were more than 2,000 officers serving San Diego.

With the city's new budget, there could be some relief in sight for the police.

Recently, Mayor Jerry Sanders announced that the city will “increase the police academy from 25 to 30 officers.” This is for each of the four police academies next year.

Brian Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association and a part of the force for 12 years, says the announcement couldn’t have come at a better time.

"Even with the increased officers, increased recruits going through academy, we lose anywhere between 15 to 25 percent of those," he said.

Marvel explained many recruits drop out after realizing the difficulty of being a police officer. He also said the department ends up losing officers to other departments, including some in San Diego County.

"They're going to leave to other agencies that have better compensation packages; a perfect example is we had an officer who left to another agency, stays in the same area, just drives maybe 40 miles north of us and he received a 30 percent increase in compensation," said Marvel.

In fiscal year 2010, San Diego lost 67 officers and lost 70 the following year. So far in 2012, 81 SDPD members have left.

Recent crime statistics show violent crime in San Diego is on the decline, so some may wonder why there is a need for more officers on the streets.

Marvel said the problem goes beyond patrols.

"You lose it on the back end with investigations. Our detectives are having now to pick and choose ... may not necessarily have the ability to do follow-ups," said Marvel.

The police department is out of its hiring freeze, and with more recruits to fill those spots, the challenges continue.

The City Council will vote on the final budget on June 11.

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