Police Plan to Ease Out Five Top Officers : Reorganization: They will be offered retirement bonuses as part of a plan to create a leaner, more efficient department.


The San Diego Police Department is getting ready to offer “golden handshake” buyouts to five top-level administrators that will allow them to retire early and will two levels of upper bureaucracy at the same time.

Police Chief Bob Burgreen has accepted a study by his second-in-command that recommends reducing the number of top managers from 13 to eight, eliminating two ranks in the process and saving the department $500,000 a year once each manager gets about $10,000 in benefits.

“I think the entire package would come close to $50,000 on a one-time basis,” he said. “We’re not talking about giving away the farm, but to give people the incentive that would help them out.”


Burgreen’s proposal has gone to City Manager Jack McGrory, who said he had discussed it with members of the City Council. McGrory and Burgreen said nothing is final, but they hope to have the buyouts approved by July 1.

“To make the reorganization work, we have to streamline,” McGrory said. “This is the first time we’ve ever done something like this, and we have to look at the numbers and see how it would work. In concept, I have no problem with it.”

The move to trim the top positions came a little more than one month after Assistant Chief Norm Stamper produced a 195-page “audit” of the 1,850-member department. The study called for changes that range from measures to improve the department’s media relations to name changes for various ranks of officers.

Burgreen has signed off on the top two recommendations: eliminating the department’s deputy chief and commander positions and adding six assistant chief jobs to the one that Stamper now holds.

To do that, five managers must accept an early retirement package, commonly known as a “golden handshake” or “golden parachute.” Each must be at least 50 years old with 20 years of service. Seven administrators from the ranks of deputy chief or commander qualify.

Deputy Chief Manny Guaderrama has already accepted an $80,000-a-year job as a commissioner on the state Board of Prison Terms, which oversees parole eligibility for state prisoners.


Burgreen said he will recommend that Guaderrama, 51, who has been with the department 30 years, be eligible for the retirement benefit because of his years of service. Guaderrama said he is expecting the perquisite, which in his case would pay him 75% of his $85,000 salary, or $63,750. Without the “golden handshake,” Guaderrama would be making 70% of his current salary, or $59,500.

In Guaderrama’s case, he gets the extra $4,250 two years earlier. At 55, he would have received the higher salary anyway.

It is unclear who else might take advantage of the extra benefits. Those who would qualify before July 1 are: Deputy Chief Mike Rice, 53, with 31 years in the department; Deputy Chief Cal Krosch, 50, with 28 years of service; Cmdr. Larry Gore, 50, with 31 years; Cmdr. Bob Thorburn, 51, with 29 years; Cmdr. Jim Kennedy, 54, with 33 years; and Cmdr. Keith Enerson, 51, with 29 years.

Commanders make about $77,000 a year and deputy chiefs about $85,000 a year. With secretaries, overhead, personal cars and other fringe benefits, each position costs the department about $100,000 a year. Burgreen said the savings to the city will be substantial if details can be worked out.

Burgreen and Stamper say they are not trying to drive anybody away.

“A lot of corporations take a colder, harder look at people who are not wanted and not needed,” Stamper said. “That is not the case here. We don’t want anyone hurt financially. Bob wants to put something together he’s calling his dream team: the most competent and able management team he can assemble.”

Talk of who might be leaving and the possible terms of their settlements have consumed police headquarters for weeks, Stamper said. Adding to the uncertainty is talk that captains in the department might also be offered buyouts in order to move younger, fresher talent up the ladder, a proposal that Burgreen acknowledges but will not discuss.


“I think a few guys will be lying awake at night, thinking about all this,” Guaderrama said.

Officers in the department already are skittish about parts of Stamper’s proposal that envision captains being called “division directors” and sergeants “supervising agents.”

But much of the change is brewing at the top, with the alignment of seven assistant chiefs under Burgreen, each assigned to a different area such as field operations, community affairs or human resources. The jobs of Burgreen, as chief, and Stamper, as executive assistant chief, are firm.

Beyond that, any deputy chief who decides to stay will become an assistant chief. Commanders, however, have no guarantee of becoming assistant chiefs, and Burgreen said he will choose carefully for those upper-management positions.

Although Stamper will be paid more than the other assistants and will fill in for Burgreen during his absence, the other assistants will report directly to Burgreen, Stamper said.

In addition, although captains will report directly to a named assistant chief, they will be permitted to deal with any assistant chief on any issue they are concerned with, such as capital project requests or personnel matters.


The changes are being implemented in an effort to pare upper bureaucracy and improve communication between the chief and the patrol officer, which had been confused at times because of too many management layers. Under the new system, the department will have five layers instead of seven.

The other of Stamper’s 24 recommendations will not go into effect until the new management team is in place.

“If we can pull this off,” Burgreen said, “we’ll show the whole world that this proposal was more than something I had Norm do to just sit on a shelf. This report, if implemented, will be able to make the department more responsive and lean. It will be a feather in Norm’s cap as well as mine for pulling it off.”