When it comes to law enforcement, the Escondido Police Department tends to lead California regarding rule-of-law policies. Police Chief Jim Maher prides himself on enforcing immigration and traffic safety laws on the books-sometimes to the chagrin of illegal-immigration activists. So when the issue of officer salaries boiled to the surface, the Chief knew negotiations wouldn’t be easy.
The Escondido Police Department (EPD) union leaders knew their salary negotiations would center on campaign promises made by the new Mayor Sam Abed. During the Mayor’s hotly contested political race, he informed voters he would reform employee unions to save the city money.
According to union officials, the city’s police salaries are the lowest in the county and risk turning the nationally acclaimed department into a training ground for other cities that offer much higher wages.
“Each police officer trainee costs the city more than $100,000 to train. Once a rookie finishes the academy a veteran officer must then patrol with the recruit for a year,” said Frank Huston, Escondido Police Officer and head of the department’s union.
“Right now we are in a waiting pattern with city Mayor Abed regarding our salaries,” Huston explained. “I’m concerned; really concerned we are on the verge of becoming a training ground for other police departments.”
A similar policy in San Diego resulted in the loss of dozens of officers who chose to move laterally to better paying police departments once they finished their training. The city of San Diego is a top 10 metropolitan city and a SDPD Police officer resigns every six days.
In an effort to avoid the same fate, the Escondido Police Chief sent a memo to the City Council regarding a pay freeze that points out the north county city is dead last when it comes to police officer compensation.