County Board of Supervisors works to find solution for public safety shortages

San Diego County Board of Supervisors.png
Posted at 3:42 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 18:42:08-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Across the county, there have been concerns about public safety as San Diego Law Enforcement deals with serious staffing shortages.

Today the Board of County Supervisors took the first step towards finding a solution. Supervisors gave the Sheriff's Department 180 days to work with the county to develop a plan to deal with law enforcement staffing shortages.

That shortage, as Supervisor Joel Anderson shared, has San Diegans worried about their safety.

"We did a quick poll in our district, over 700 people responded and 99% of them said they were deeply concerned," shared the District 2 representative. "They wanted to know if when they went to bed at night, they would wake up safely in the morning."

The Board says that there has been a 14% surge in the county's violent crime in the last two years, a 15% increase in people leaving the Sheriff's Department, and a 25% decrease in applications.

Supervisor Jim Desmond with District 5 shared: "I was asked are we safe now? Yes, I think we are safe now, but we don't want to get to that critically low level to where we are below what we need to keep people safe."

Anderson explained during the meeting that it is the Sheriff's Department's responsibility to provide regional mutual aid to cities in need. The San Diego Police Officers Association says this plan feels like someone hears their pleas.

"Staffing at the police department this week went under 19 hundred sworn personnel," the President of the SDPOA, Jared Wilson said. "We've lost 110 officers since September 1st, we've lost 40 officers in January alone, we are in crisis mode."

The county acknowledged a factor in shortages comes from vaccine mandates when last year 45% of officers said that they would rather be fired than comply.

According to the City of San Diego, currently, 487 individuals in the POA have filed exemptions. It is not known how many have been approved or denied.

"A lot of officers are in the process to continue to leave the department," explains Wilson. "A lot of officers are on hold, they enjoy working for the City of San Diego, but they are making decisions for their families to go where there is higher compensation and isn't a mandate."

Vice-Chair Nora Vargas also asked during the meeting that assessments be done to deal with staffing issues in the Probation Department, Public Defenders Office, and publicly-funded youth programs.