Why does city of San Diego have free police and fire academies?

Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax FightersRichard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters 2 Comments


Why do the city of San Diego police and fire departments provide “free” (city paid) academy training and generous student salaries without any employment commitment?

As I understand it, the other cities in the county expect their applicants (at least the firefighter applicants) to go to school to get their firefighter certification at their own expense — and with no salary.

Are these cities’ firefighting services substandard compared to the city of San Diego? I’ve heard no such complaint.

If one goes to Annapolis or West Point for a free education, one is obligated for a four year stint serving in the U.S. military. Everyone understands this is a fair arrangement.

If a graduating San Diego city police or firefighter cadet leaves the department for another public safety job within, say, six years after graduation, should not they have to pay back to the city at least a prorated share of their training costs? Of course, that assumes the city even needs to be in the academy business in the first place.

Apparently our city politicians think that money grows on trees on the roof of City Hall. I suspect they are cultivating a more potent weed up there.


Comments 2

  1. Post

    Just to be clear: As I understand it, San Diego city police and firefighter cadets go to a taxpayer-funded city academy with zero tuition. In addition, students receive a salary of about $2,500 a month — plus health care. I assume this full-time student “employment” counts towards their 90% pensions in 30 years.

    The day they complete their costly city training is the day they can go to work for ANY government agency. They have no legal obligation to the city of San Diego, nor to its taxpayers. They do not have to work for the city, nor to reimburse the city for their training if they go elsewhere.

    I suspect some other big cities have similar foolish arrangements, but I don’t think any of our other San Diego County cities have this setup — especially for firefighters. There are community colleges that offer public safety courses and, indeed, DE FACTO academies for firefighters — and these cc’s seem to provide quality graduates. Most cities look at this source for many of their new hires.

  2. I agree with your regarding the commitment. A while back, San Diego Unified School District was training new bus drivers, who after passing training, went to other school districts that paid more. Just didn’t make sense, but then that’s government. Things did change-they did increase their pay rate by reducing the steps for the position, which created a battle with the drivers that had been there several years and now found themselves making the same money as new hires. The district didn’t think over that issue too well, which created big morale issues, as I recall.
    When I wanted to become a National Park Ranger, I went and took the seasonal law enforcement course at Santa Rosa JC. Sure, my tuition was cheap (1987) because I was a LEGAL citizen of California, but I still had to pay my lodging and meals. Also, since I was not working (I took a leave of absence from my job), I still had health insurance and car payments and lots of other stuff that I still had to pay for, but I had planned for all of that, so I was able to take the course which did lead me to a job with the NPS (But I also had to get other kinds of certifications on my own before I even thought about applying, but like the LE course, it was out of my own time and dollars).
    So if you want the job bad enough, you will find the way to get the needed education and experience.

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