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Oakland Police Brace for Cuts, Data Shows They are Overworked

Politics / US Politics Jun 22, 2010 - 05:34 PM GMT

By: JD_Rosendahl

Politics Time is counting down, as the City of Oakland has to vote June 24th on potentially cutting some 200 policemen.  Tick-Tock-Tick-Tock.  The vote is in 2 days, and nothing has been resolved.  See the original, Welcome to Oakland-The Model City, the insanity continues.

As Oakland police brace for cuts, data show they are overworked

OAKLAND — Data being gathered to finalize police Chief Anthony Batts' strategic plan for the Oakland Police Department demonstrate what top brass and rank-and-file officers have said for years: Oakland police are drastically overworked compared with their counterparts in other cities.

The data — which is not final — compares the Oakland force to the nine other police departments that rank in California's top 10 in size. It was obtained by The Tribune as the City Council is seriously considering laying off as many as 200 police officers at a Thursday budget hearing.

The data shows that in 2009:

·  Oakland had 24.5 homicides per 100,000 residents; the other cities had an average of 6.7.

·  Oakland had 1,592 violent crimes per 100,000 residents; the other cities had an average of 555.

·  The number of calls for service for an average Oakland patrol officer was 787; the average for officers with the other cities was 465.

·  The average response time in Oakland for top priority calls — such as reports of robbery, rape or murder — is 14.8 minutes; the other cities had an average response time of 5.2 minutes.

The numbers are preliminary and could change slightly before the report is final. That is because not all the departments surveyed responded to all of the categories, police sources said.

No doubt, that's some amazing comparative data and very well thought out, but does it really show or prove Oakland Policemen are overworked?

In Oakland, the starting pay for police is at least $71,000 and, with overtime and other compensation, first-year officers can earn more than $100,000 a year. In New York, starting pay is about $44,000.

We still aren’t hearing from local politicians or the unions; That if salary levels were rolled back to 2000 amounts or similar, had a hard cap on overtime and other pay to 10-15%, and their pension plan was equivalent to the private sector, the City of Oakland could hire more officers while having a positive impact on the budget and improvement on their above statistics.  Are they overworked? 

The San Jose Mercury has a public salary search engine, which I used for the table below of the top 30 paid people listed in the Oakland Police Agency (department).

In my research of compensation data for the Police Service Agency, there were 909 people on the payroll per the search engine used through the San Jose Mercury Newspaper.  Out of those 909, there were 648 that made over $100,000 total compensation.   You'll note in the table above, the wild abuse of overtime pay and other pay.

Let's ask it again, are Oakland Policemen overworked?  Yes, because they are over paid, The Model City can't afford to hire appropriate staffing levels. It's just math.

Any Policeman laid off has absolutely nowhere to go and make the kind of money they are making now.  Those being laid off are looking at a steep income drop when they find their next vocation.

In the past two years, Oakland has made $170 million worth of budget-balancing measures, according to the city. Police have not been immune from cuts, but so far the budget reductions have been made without laying off sworn personnel.  

False, they have been immune.  There have been no layoffs and significant cuts to salary or pension plans, so they have been immune from budgetary issues.

Roughly 75 percent of the city's $400 million general fund is spent on the police and fire departments — and firefighters cannot be laid off because of a clause in their contract. Other expenditures are tied up in debt service or voter-approved mandates for libraries and youth programs.

This is the most important data point of all.  Roughly 75% of the general fund covers police and fire departments.  It’s wildly out of control.  It's impossible to maintain that kind of ratio for just two departments.  If you want to solve the budget, then solve or reduce that 75% ratio to a much lower number.  There is nowhere else to take money away from anymore.

City officials say the only way to balance the budget is to cut police, find new revenue or secure major concessions from public safety unions.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The actual best solution is bankruptcy.  The BK route would provide a quicker road to balancing budgets functionally for year to come, and provide better control for the city over their issues.  This constant negotiating, fear mongering, and stubborn greed from unions is slowing the process down. 

Council members are hoping officers agree to pay 9 percent of their salaries into their retirement. Such a deal would be worth about $8 million to the city. City Council President Jane Brunner said June 2 that she thinks the council could avoid laying off police if officers agreed to the 9 percent contribution and the city was able to get some concessions from the firefighters, too.

The last time I checked, the budget deficit for Oakland was over $40 million.  A 9% reduction for $8 million is chump change.  If the city and unions are going to get real, it's more like a 20-25% cut in salary.  A hard cap of 10-15% on overtime plus other pay, and some kind of roll back of pension benefits is required.  And since the unions probably won't go for that, bankruptcy is the solution.

Below is a table of the top 30 paid people listed in the Oakland Fire Department:

In my research of compensation data for the Fire Department, there were 535 people on the payroll per the search engine used through the San Jose Mercury Newspaper.  Out of those 535, there were 452 that made over $100,000 total compensation.  

I doubt the city is going to get voluntary give backs by the Firemen's union. They know they can't be laid off contractually.  They too, wildly abuse overtime and other compensation just like the Policemen.  This is why bankruptcy needs to be the direction.  Contracts need to be broken voluntarily or by legal action.

And what no one is telling the public is it’s almost certain this time next year, The Model City will be facing another budgetary shortfall, looking at the very same two departments for more cuts.  Welcome to Oakland-The Model City, the insanity continues.

Hope all is well.

By J.D. Rosendahl

J.D. Rosendahl was a former stock broker/investment consultant (currently not licensed) before becoming a Commercial Banker for the past 14 years. He manages his family's wealth, helping them avoid the high tech bubble and the real estate bubble melt downs and preserving wealth.

© 2010 Copyright J.D. Rosendahl - All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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