TPD officers leaving department for better pay elsewhere

CREATED Nov. 15, 2012

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  • Twenty seven new Tucson Police Department recruits got their badges last week and are heading into the last stages of their training. But those 27 new officers can't keep up with the ones turning in their badges. Video by 1041thetruth.com

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  • On the training track, TPD recruits learn smoothness and control are more important than raw speed in high speed driving.

Reporter: Justin Schecker

Web Producer: Mekita Rivas

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Just last week, 27 new TPD recruits got their badges and are heading into the last stages of their training. But those 27 can't keep up with the ones turning in their badges.

Too many are leaving for better opportunities at other departments. After 15 years with the TPD, Bill Bonanno said he's never seen this kind of exodus of officers to other nearby departments like Marana, Oro Valley and even the University of Arizona. 

"There's one officer I spoke to specifically and I said, 'How are you doing up there? Do you have any regrets with leaving?'" Bonanno said. "And he said, 'The only regret I have at this point is that I didn't do it sooner.'"

Bonanno said that former TPD officers left for a department near Phoenix.

Why are so many leaving?

Bonanno said they're looking for better pay and Tucson can't compete. 

"Not only have they not seen pay raises, but they've actually taken pay cuts," he said. "In the way of furloughs (and) increases in pension and medical."

With the city investing so much in these officers training, city council member Steve Kozachik said it's critical for the city to hang on to them. 

"We have got to get our HR department to re-class these people so that we can compete with other jurisdictions and quit getting poached," Kozachik said. "And quite frankly, it puts the public at a greater safety risk when we keep losing them."

"How can this problem be fixed? Well we definitely need more people, that's obvious," Bonnano said. "But we need to start by taking care of the officers we have first because no matter how many people we hire, it doesn't matter if we keep losing the qualified people we have here."

Bonnano said the city needs to give the qualified officers reason to stay because just brining in new recruits can't replace the experience of the ones that are leaving.