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Mayor Jerry Sanders said he would consider granting San Diego cops a pay raise when his labor negotiators meet with the police union next year, but only if the information his office gathers over the next half-year about what other agencies pay their officers supports a raise.

Sanders said the salary-comparison survey is part of a larger recruitment and retention plan that will hopefully stem the recent exodus of San Diego cops to other departments.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “I’d like our officers compensated fairly. I’d like to see the officers proud of the department they work for and the city they work for.”

The mayor noted that his ongoing efforts to streamline City Hall must be implemented before he could suggest a pay raise for cops.

Sanders said Tuesday that the rate of officers departing the force equated to a “crisis” for the city, adopting an urgent tone after he has tried to downplay the situation in the face of criticism by the Police Officers Association and several members of the City Council.

“No one should mistake that the loss of experience officers from our police force is a crisis,” he said.

For the second straight year, police officers this year received no pay increases after their union failed to reach a labor agreement with the city.

The mayor, a former police chief, said he has been visiting officers on duty to talk to them about their concerns. He has also prepared a video message for the officers, which he shared with the City Council at this morning’s meeting.

“I know the past few years have been difficult for you as police officers. I recognize that staffing numbers are problematic,” he said on the video.

Just two months ago, police Chief Bill Lansdowne acknowledged that he would ideally have a force that is 2,500 officers strong; Executive Assistant Chief Bill Maheu reported Tuesday that there are currently 1,931 sworn officers on staff, with 177 of those officers not working on patrol.

Besides the salary survey, Sanders proposes spending an additional $225,000 on the recruiting effort; setting up testing sites at military bases to attract soldiers and sailors who are at the tail-end of their service; purchasing uniforms and equipment for recruits; paying officers that transfer from outside the state better; and streamlining the application process.

Any new expenditure associated with the plan would have to be subject to City Council approval.

The council meeting broke for lunch in the middle of the mayor’s presentation, but check back today for updates as the council and members of the public speak on this issue.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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