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Budget toll on SFPD could top 500 officers

February 19, 2011

Friday's Chronicle brought us the news that as many as 185 police officers may leave the force due to budget considerations.

It turns out that was nothing. Try a loss of more than 500 officers.

At issue is the department's Deferred Retirement Option Program. The plan, crafted by Police Officers Association President Gary Delagnes and approved by San Francisco voters, is designed to keep veteran officers on the force.

Once they reach 25 years of service and are over 50 years old they can opt for DROP. Patrol officers get three years in which they are paid their full salary and a pension, which is placed into a special savings account. After three years they retire and get the chunk of pension money.

DROP will be voted upon by the Board of Supervisors in April, and if it is discontinued, the clock will start ticking on mass retirements. Delagnes says the force has 490 officers with 25 years of service or more and 370 with 30 years or more.

"In two or three years you could lose nearly 500 cops," Delagnes said. "And that's in addition to those who just retire without going into DROP."

Further complicating matters is that there are virtually no new officers coming into the department.

"We will not only not have a police academy class in 2011," said Chief Jeff Godown, "we will not have one in 2012. We simply have no money."

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