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Mayor’s proposed budget includes increase of $13.8 million for San Diego Police Department

A San Diego Police Department officer patrols in January.
(Sam Hodgson / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria highlighted public safety investments May 5 in his proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year, including an increase of $13.8 million for the city’s Police Department.

His “Ready to Rebuild” budget proposes to fund the Police Department with $584 million to support personnel, equipment and facilities and includes an additional $5.5 million for overtime.

“The No. 1 expectation San Diegans have of their city leadership is that we’re working to keep them safe, and that means having people in place to respond quickly and effectively when they call for help,” Gloria said. “I’ve been clear: Lawlessness will not rule the day in our city, and this budget reflects that.”

As part of the city of San Diego’s budget process for the coming fiscal year, City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, held a budget town hall meeting online May 2, the first of two scheduled for the district.

The proposed budget anticipates pay increases likely to result from contract negotiations now underway with the bargaining units representing police, firefighters and lifeguards. It also provides for recruitment and retention for the SDPD.

According to city documents, staffing at the department is higher than in eight of the past nine years but it is trying to fill 200 remaining vacancies to achieve full staffing. Indications of a rise in violent crime have spurred calls by some residents for reassurance that city leaders are committing sufficient resources to patrolling and emergency response. The San Diego Police Officers Association said this week that the rise is especially prevalent in parks, citing 12 homicides in the city’s parks in the past year.

“This tragic trend should come as no surprise,” according to a statement from the SDPOA. “The San Diego Police Department response times have more than doubled for Priority 1 and 2 calls over the last five years. Similarly, the staffing for patrol operations is critically low and more than 190 officers have departed the SDPD since July 2021.”

Many of those officers who left cited a COVID-19 vaccination mandate as the reason. Gloria backed down on the mandate, allowing hundreds of exceptions.

In 2021, Gloria’s budget saw a $23 million increase for the Police Department, and the city has boosted the SDPD’s budget for the past 10 years — an increase of more than $213 million since 2011.

For the Fire-Rescue Department, the proposed budget adds two marine safety lieutenants to ensure 24-hour response and emergency management operations in the coastal area as well as facilities needs. ◆