Following a San Diego City Council committee’s refusal to approve a proposed ballot measure to increase police salaries Wednesday, representatives of the Police Officers Assn. said that they intend to circulate petitions to force a public vote on the pay plan next year.
POA attorney Chris Ashcraft, saying he believes that the public is “committed . . . to maintaining the quality” of the local police force, asked the Public Services and Safety Committee members to place the pay increase on the November ballot. Under the proposal, police salaries would be increased according to a formula involving law enforcement salaries in the state’s four largest cities.
Committee members, however, said they did not favor basing local city employees’ salaries on those of other cities. Moreover, Councilman Mike Gotch, the panel’s chairman, described municipal salary decisions as a duty for local elected officials that should not be delegated.
The panel’s refusal to recommend that the full council place the measure on the ballot leaves the police officers’ union in the position of having to use the initiative process to get the issue before the public. After Wednesday’s meeting, POA officials said they intend to do just that, and hope to circulate petitions to get sufficient public signatures to place the pay proposal on the June, 1986, ballot.
San Diego police officers have complained that their salaries are 9% to 30% below those of officers in other major California cities, a disparity that city officials concede prompts dozens of police officers annually to quit for better-paying jobs, including positions with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.
In May, the council approved a 5.5% pay raise that will increase the average police officer’s annual salary from $27,435 to $28,943. POA officials, however, have claimed that San Diego police officers need a 5% increase on Jan. 1 in order for their salaries to be comparable to those in other cities.