Police spending is one of the most burning issues in Los Angeles. Protests that erupted in Minneapolis after the assassination of George Floyd and calls to dismiss law enforcement prompted Mayor Eric Garcetti and the city council to reduce the department's spending by $ 150 million for the fiscal year that began July 1. Dollar lowering fire this week when the council, faced with an economy ravaged by COVID-19, declared a tax emergency and voted to put thousands of city workers on leave, resulting in an effective 10 percent wage cut despite police officers firefighters, nurses, librarians and some other workers will not cut their working hours (yet).
The situation worsened when Councilor Mike Bonin called for a proposed raise for LAPD officials to be postponed. In an LA Times published Thursday, the 11th district representative announced the 4.8 percent increase this year (which will take place in two phases) and another raise for next year as the city earns $ 104 million for salary cuts. He blamed the Los Angeles Police Protective League and accused the union, which represents ordinary civil servants, of not delaying pay increases (negotiated long before the economic crisis).
What cops earn is largely overlooked in the debate. Garcetti's budget for the current fiscal year is approximately $ 1.75 billion for LAPD salaries. The total department budget is approximately $ 3 billion (including pensions and other expenses).
Police pay varies a lot, but one thing is clear: working for the LAPD can mean a generous salary, with some noticeable add-ons. Here are some of the salary details and perks associated with doing the difficult and stressful job.
The minimum wage in Los Angeles is $ 15 an hour ($ 14.25 for businesses with 25 or fewer employees). Even the newest LAPD initiate earns more than double that amount.
According to the department's recruitment website, those hired by the department and enrolled in the Police Academy earn about $ 32.35 an hour, or $ 67,546 a year. That's $ 71,242 for the 12 months that an employee is an apprentice (during which time they work with a senior civil servant). Once this apprenticeship period ends, the salary will rise to $ 76,379.
This wage plateau can rise even higher depending on your CV. Full-time officers with two years of military or past law enforcement experience earn $ 79,344. There's an educational incentive too: a civil servant with an associate's degree receives a jump of $ 190 every two weeks. It's $ 290 every two weeks with a bachelor's degree.
The recruiting website describes the benefits of sticking to the job. These perks are the result of the deal signed by the city's negotiators and LAPPL, a union with roots from the 1920s. The LAPPL, which, like other police unions, was under fire from reform lawyers, became a separate entity in 1973. She serves as a representative and negotiating unit for department employees with the rank of police officer up to lieutenant.
According to the recruiting website, the average "tier increase" is $ 4,409 per year and the cost of living is increasing 1.5 percent annually. The website's salary page states that full-time officials will receive a raise “every year in the same position”.
All about the benefits
LAPD employees can sign up for health and dental plans. You can also join the Los Angeles Fire & Police Pension program. According to the Membership Declaration for the quarter ended June 30th, the plan's 9,086 “service retirees”, with an average age of just over 52, were retiring. These people receive an average monthly benefit of $ 6,783.
Other benefits can trigger envy. The sworn LAPD staff receives 12 fully paid sick days per year, five additional days with 75 percent wages and another five sick days with 50 percent. In addition, there are 13 paid floating holidays per year and 15 vacation days. After 10 years of service, the number of vacation days increases to 23 per year.
Working for the LAPD is seldom a 9-to-5 gig five days a week. Many officials work on a “compressed schedule” that can mean more days off. Options include four 10-hour shifts per week or three 12-hour days.
The big numbers
According to the LAPD website, the department currently employs 9,904 sworn employees and 2,961 civilian employees. The latter group will be hit by the city vacations so officials could be transferred to meet staffing needs.
For years, city guides tried to maintain a level of 10,000 sworn staff, but the ranks are likely to decline. A June 19 report by Sharon Tso, the city's chief legislative analyst, and Rich Llewellyn, the city's administrative officer, said the LAPD is expected to have 9,757 sworn employees by next summer with a slowdown in hiring.
The ABC of OT
Overtime for first aiders is a matter of course. According to a report by City Controller Ron Galperin last November: "Overtime is built into the personnel models for sworn firefighters and police officers to ensure public safety in emergencies." The report, titled "On the Record," found the city paid $ 470 million in overtime in fiscal year 2018/19, 77% of which was spent on police and fire departments.
On closer inspection, “On the Record” shows that 84 percent of LAPD employees received overtime pay during the year. The LAPD earned $ 167.1 million in overtime in 2018-19 (a figure surpassed by the fire department's overtime spend of $ 192.7 million). 94% of the LAPD's overtime was accounted for by staff with the rank of police officer to lieutenant.
Galperin also maintains a database called Payroll Explorer that lists staff expenses across the city. The latest numbers from calendar year 2018 show that 20 LAPD employees earned more than $ 100,000 in overtime that year, with some earning more on OT than on their base salary. This includes an officer who topped up his $ 110,000 salary with $ 149,414 in overtime. Add in extra expenses, and the person's total compensation was nearly $ 289,000.
Payroll Explorer shows that the median wage for full-time LAPD employees in 2018 was $ 112,627. This is below the LAFD median of $ 157,930, but well above the City Department's third highest payroll, Los Angeles World Airports. The median LAWA salary in 2018 was $ 70,409.
The database does not identify people by name, but does display positions and payrolls, which in many cases are compounded by overtime. In 2018, 245 LAPD employees passed the $ 200,000 mark. Among them are 66 people with the rank of police officer.
The big numbers keep coming. More than 1,900 department employees earned more than $ 150,000 that year. Over 5,100 people have raised more than $ 125,000. Keep searching the database and you'll find that between base salary, overtime, and other salaries and benefits, more than 9,100 LAPD employees have received six-figure total pay this year.
In 2019, Police Chief Michel Moore had a salary of around $ 353,000, according to the public payment website TransparentCalifornia.com. That put him ahead of Garcetti, whose salary that year was roughly $ 273,000, according to the location.
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