TPD officers turn in their badges for better pay elsewhere
Tucson hires them. In many cases, the city trains them, too, or invests thousand of dollars in additional training. And then they're gone. Video by kgun9.comvideo
Russell Stromberg is a former TPD officer who says he's earning about $700 more per bi-weekly paycheck at his new law enforcement job.
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson hires them. In many cases, the city trains them, too, or invests thousand of dollars in additional training.
And then they're gone.
Tucson police and union officials tell 9 On Your Side nearly 30 officers have left the department in the past year and many are finding better paying law enforcement jobs with nearby agencies.
Russell Stromberg used to be a Tucson police officer. He left the department after seven and a half years in order to better provide for his wife and two young children.
"They've given you every reason in the world to leave, and you don't because of the job, because of the badge you don't want to leave your brothers in arms behind," Stromberg said. "It really boiled down to a decision that I had to take care of my family and it wasn't getting done."
Stromberg asked us not to say where he works now, but he says he's taking home about $700 more per bi-weekly paycheck.
"There's a significant amount of overtime in there, he said. "But the point is its available. I can take it or leave it. Tucson it just wasn't being had."
During his time with Tucson police, Stromberg says he only received one pay raise.
"My paycheck had slowly been dwindling," Stromberg said. "As a matter of fact, the second to last paycheck I got was the smallest paycheck I'd ever received from the Tucson Police department."
City Council member Steve Kozachik told 9 On Your Side he's seen this exodus coming. City management needs to realize its neglecting public safety and wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars in the process, he said.
"If we're not competitive in the market place and yet we're training them, we might as well just be writing the checks to Marana, Sahuarita, Oro Valley and the rest of the surrounding jurisdictions," Kozachik said.
9 On Your Side recently sat down with Chief Roberto Villaseñor who says his department is down 140 officers.
"Since I've been chief, it has been constantly cutting the budget," Villaseñor said. "I have not had one period of growth in the four years I've been chief, making the department smaller."
Tucson city manager Richard Miranda declined 9 on Your Side's interview request. Kozachik has this message for Miranda and Villaseñor as the city prepares to release its budget.
"I'd like to see the manager who's a former chief of police and our own chief of police step up to the plate and defend these men and women a little more aggressively," Kozachik said.
If the city continues to slash its police budget, Stromberg believes more officers will quit.
"You've got a lot of people that you paid a lot of money to train and they're all looking to go elsewhere," Stromberg said. "Well, because just like me they got to take care of their family."