Gary Lawrence, a San Diego police detective with 21 years’ experience, recently applied for a patrol job with the Chula Vista, Ca., Police Department, says the San Diego Union-Tribune. The money is better, even in an entry-level position in a department an eighth the size of San Diego’s, and the prospects are brighter for pay raises. If Lawrence gets the job, he figures he could work as a detective again in four or five years. Like other officers in San Diego, Lawrence has gone without a pay raise for two years, while his payroll contributions for retirement and health care have been rising. For Lawrence, who earns $78,000, it means his monthly take-home pay is $50 less than what it was two years ago. He has been told not to expect a raise for at least three more years.
Veteran police officers are fleeing, and city officials are trying to figure out how to keep them. Mayor Jerry Sanders and Police Chief William Lansdowne are finalizing a recruitment and retention plan expected to be released this week. The plan is long on recruitment and short on financing, meaning it won’t stop officers such as Lawrence from leaving. Lansdowne said the pending Public Safety and Strategy Plan the mayor is about to unveil includes a marketing strategy and a commitment to competitive salaries in the future. Sanders was quoted last year as saying that a four-year pay freeze for city employees was a reasonable expectation. Lawrence said he has lost faith in Sanders, a former cop himself, and San Diego police chief from 1993 until 1999.