San Diego officials are exploring a new way to help solve a rash of police officer vacancies: financial incentives for officers who buy homes in the city, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Officers could receive as much as $50,000 toward a down payment or closing costs when they buy a home and agree to stay on the San Diego force for a certain number of years. The proposed incentive could help San Diego get closer to its goal of 2,040 officers, a goal that has become steadily more elusive in recent years.
The latest data show the city has 1,787 officers, down from 1,820 last summer. That leaves the city 253 officers short of its goal. The housing incentive, in addition to helping the Police Department recruit and retain more officers, could help the city achieve a longtime goal of more community-based policing by encouraging officers to live in city neighborhoods. A recent analysis by the police officers labor union found that only about 30 percent of San Diego officers live in the city. “A big part of retaining police officers is having them actually live in the city and not make an hours-long commute every day,” said Councilman Chris Cate.