A new commercial showing a San Diego police officer literally under fire is catching a lot of people off guard.

The campaign by the San Diego police union is meant to show how a growing number of officers are being lured away to better paying jobs -- putting public safety in jeopardy.

It is almost impossible not to react to the commercial put out this week by the San Diego Police Officers Association.

It starts with a real San Diego police officer giving an interview to mock news crews about low wages and dangerous work conditions the union said police face every day.

It depicts the officer being interrupted by a shooting, said police association President Bill Nemic.

Nemic backs the commercial that ends with the officer leaving to join the Riverside Sheriff's Department for better pay.

In the past two years, San Diego has lost 78 officers to other departments and more losses are expected.

Nemic calls high pay for officers a priority and a public safety issue.

He said other departments across the state have more officers on the street and can entice recruits with better pay, a notion that he and the mayor don't see eye to eye on.

It tries to give the impression that the police unions did not get a pay raise for their members, that police officers are being shot or ignored or something like that, said San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Sanders called the commercial a blatant scare tactic, adding that cash-strapped San Diego still ranks as the third safest city in the U.S.

Sanders added, They wanted $9 million in benefit raises. There is no money for that this year.

Still -- is the commercial appropriate?

Soon you will be the judge.

It makes a great point. I think it needs to be realistic, said commercial supporter Jackie Bilbro.

I don't think you need to do that to get your point across, said commercial opponent Jorge Vega.

Sanders said the police retention issue is a problem all over the country, not just in San Diego.

The commercial officially began airing Wednesday.