Supervisors approve pay hike for veteran S.F. police officers

The City will begin boosting salaries of veteran cops as an incentive for them to stay on the force while the Police Department struggles to recruit new officers and continues to operate with a staff shortfall of nearly 300 officers.

Mayor Gavin Newsom pushed for an amendment to the police contract that would grant a 4 percent pay increase for 30-year veterans of the force. The incentive is seen as a way to slow down the pace of retiring officers.

The Board of Supervisors approved the contract amendment Tuesday in a 9-0 vote, and is expected to grant final approval to the amendment at its next meeting Dec. 5.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano had nearly thrown a wrench into the amendment Monday, when it came before a Board of Supervisors committee for preliminary approval. Ammiano said he would only support the amendment if the pay raise were tied to disciplinary records of officers. As it stood, a 30-year veteran of the force was entitled to the 4 percent raise if the officer had worked 1,700 hours in the prior year.

Ammiano’s request forced Phil Ginsburg, director of The City’s Department of Human Resources, into last-minute negotiations with the Police Officers Association. Two hours later, Ginsburg came up with a solution: A 30-year veteran officer would not receive the 4 percent boost if that officer had received a 30-day suspension for misconduct within the prior year.

“We have serious staffing challenges in the San Francisco Police Department and we do need to try and slow the pace of attrition a little bit while we ramp up hiring,” Ginsburg said.

The Police Department has 1,694 officers on staff and a shortfall of about 270 officers, according to Ginsburg.

The Police Department is currently engaged in its most aggressive hiring effort since 1995, which it hopes will result in 175 new officers a year, according to Ginsburg.

In the last 12 months, 135 police officers retired from the force; as many as 150 officers could retire every year and there are more than 425 officers who have more than 25 years of experience, according to Ginsburg. A 30-year veteran’s salary is about $100,000 a year.

In additional to the salary boosts, the amendment also authorizes $1,000 bonuses for officers who refer someone who successfully passes the police academy and becomes a San Francisco police officer, as well as a $5,000 sign-on bonus for an existing officer in another jurisdiction who comes to the San Francisco Police Department.

It also puts $250,000 into a police recruitment budget, which is much less than that of other big-city departments. The Oakland Police Department has allocated more than $1 million to recruit officers, according to officials.

The contract amendment will cost $928,000 in the next fiscal year, but once overtime savings are taken into consideration, the total cost next year will be $181,000, according to the Office of the Controller.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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