This post has been updated.

Mayoral candidate Kevin Faulconer wants to ramp up hiring and retention efforts at the San Diego Police Department. But some of the measures he’s backed as a councilman contributed to the problems he now aims to solve.

On Monday, Faulconer released a three-point roadmap to streamline hiring processes, provide more competitive pay and invest in key supplies.

“The city must increase compensation for existing police officers and new recruits in order to attract and retain the most qualified individuals committed to San Diego and growing within the department,” he wrote.

What’s not mentioned in that Monday plan is Faulconer supported three city changes that have contributed to a less competitive hiring climate for local police.

Last year, union-funded studies found San Diego police officers’ compensation is among the lowest in the state.

In 2009, Faulconer and the rest of the City Council unanimously supported a 6 percent cut in compensation that hit all city employees, including police officers, to help close a $60 million budget deficit.

Two years later, Faulconer was the sole Republican on the City Council to support a deal that cut retiree health benefits. (Other City Council Republicans said the measure didn’t go far enough.)

And in 2012, Faulconer was among the co-authors of Proposition B, a pension reform initiative that capped future pension payouts for new officers.

The compensation cuts, coupled with other reforms that began in 2005, left current officers with smaller paychecks. Police union leaders say measures including Prop. B also made the city less attractive to prospective officers with other options.

Brian Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association, said the union will seriously weigh Faulconer’ votes as it decides whether the councilman should receive its endorsement.

“I think now that Kevin is looking at it as mayor of the city he probably has to reflect on all the things he had done over the years,” Marvel said.

Faulconer, a seven-year councilman, didn’t back away from his voting record on Monday.

“We all had to make tough decisions over the last several years but as we grow out of those tough choices, as we move forward, one of the things I’m saying very clearly is that our Police Department has to be a top priority for the city of San Diego because it affects everything we do and every neighborhood,” Faulconer told Voice of San Diego.

Faulconer, who has been endorsed by the police union in past City Council races, is now making efforts to court the union by making plans to bolster recruitment and retention resources.

His blueprint for addressing police staffing issues includes several ideas union leaders have pushed, including studying more ways to reduce police health care costs. His plan also cites reports frequently mentioned by the police union as evidence of the department’s compensation woes.

This past summer, Faulconer and fellow Republican Council members also championed a $2 million police recruitment and retention plan that ups officers’ spending allowances on uniforms and increases city spending on recruiting efforts.

Marvel said those recent moves don’t guarantee an endorsement.

Police union members will want to hear how Faulconer will implement the goals in his plan, Marvel said.

“He made the decisions he made and he’s going to have to live with them, especially when we interview him and hold our debate,” Marvel said.

Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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