Dear PoPville – DC is “not adequately paying the police force for their hard work and sacrifice”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user KJinDC

“Dear PoPville,

The city is not adequately paying the police force for their hard work and sacrifice. This means the city will be unable to attract and retain highly qualified officers. Please read
A Message From Chairman Elect-Delroy Burton To D.C. Police Officers Regarding The Contract Arbitration Process:

“On Monday, D.C. police officers received two pieces of bad news. The first was a loss in our contract arbitration. The second was the disclosure of how Mayor Vincent Gray, his administration, and Chief Cathy Lanier view and value the work that we do as D.C. police officers.

For the past year those of us involved in the contract negotiation process have warned that when the District’s position was finally revealed, it would be hard to accept. Now you know why D.C. Police Union leadership has been so appalled with Mayor Gray and Chief Lanier. Both misled the public and police officers about their positions and offers during the negotiation process. Mayor Gray’s and Chief Lanier’s offer on compensation is indefensible – at no point during the negotiation process did the District ever offer any raise in compensation for 2008 to 2012, while over the same time period, Chief Lanier had her compensation increased by 45%. But it is the argument that they have made as to why D.C. police officers do not deserve a raise that is the most disheartening.

Mayor Gray’s and Chief Lanier’s position is two-fold. First, they have taken the position that the job done by D.C. police officers is no more dangerous, complex, or difficult than police work in surrounding suburbs and small communities. Second, they argue there is no reason we should even be paid as much as officers in those jurisdictions; instead, they believe we should only be paid enough so that we are in the middle of the pack when it comes to compensation. In short, we are interchangeable with police officers everywhere in the surrounding jurisdictions and we do not deserve to be paid in the top half of those jurisdictions.”

You can read the full message here.

44 Comment

  • We honor the service of all Metropolitan Police Department officers and are only sorry that it took so long to get them the raises they have long-deserved. This is not the first time the Chairman of the FOP has said inflammatory, baseless, and irresponsible things that the media finds impossible to resist reporting. But that shouldn’t get in the way of the facts. For several years, the District offered Mr. Baumann (the outgoing Chair of the FOP) a generous and fair package of wage increases for his members. Mr. Baumann gambled that he could get a better deal by taking the case to arbitration and lost; after reviewing all the facts, an independent arbiter determined that the District’s offer was fair and reasonable. If Mr. Baumann had not stood in the way, his members would have received raises years ago. After this disservice to his members, I can understand why he is embarrassed and seeking to shift blame to others. I would hope that the media and public would view his lame duck comments as the irresponsible sour grapes that they are.

    Pedro Ribeiro
    Executive Office of the Mayor

  • I’m guessing that the multitude of labor unions who supported Gray during the last election will not be doing so this time around. Let’s hope not.

  • In my opinion, when DC gave anyone (ie-Transit Police, Capitol Police, Park Police) in the district with a gun arresting rights for areas outside of their assigned jurisdictions, the process began to underpay/undercut MPD officers.
    There used to be neighborhood officers that walked the beat and understood the neighborhoods. The new officers are overworked and underpaid. Thus resulting in a different policing tactics that are oftentimes hands-off.
    If Chief Laniers’ salary ($253,000) reflects her position as the Chief of Police, in the Capital City, why can’t the officers have their city back, and receive compensation that reflects policing the Capital City?

  • The need the $$ for their data plans!

  • “Second, they argue there is no reason we should even be paid as much as officers in those jurisdictions; instead, they believe we should only be paid enough so that we are in the middle of the pack when it comes to compensation.”
    .
    The second part of this sentence contradicts the first part. The rest of the letter talks about how crime is so much higher in DC, how there have been an “embarrassing string of officers being arrested and convicted”, and then it goes on to expressly condone officers seeking other jobs with the “county” or retiring altogether.
    .
    Not the best case to make and certainly calls into question whether the union has the interests of the public its membership is supposed to serve at heart (as well as the officers it represents). There may be some valid gripes in there, but I’d have to hear the other side of the argument before forming an opinion.

  • gotryit

    Why again does MPD deserve to be paid above average?
    I’ve seen some great work done by MPD. I’ve also seen some really mediocre crap from MPD.
    .
    Not buying this.

  • how much does the average MPD officer net each year?

    • Exactly – I read the whole thing and there was no mention of what the salary + overtime payments are for DC and surrounding jurisdictions. So how in the world are we supposed to know if the pay is “adequate” or not?

      Maybe a more interesting question would be – what do you think police officers should be paid?

      • It has less to do with what you or I think they should be paid, and more to do with what their counterparts in other jurisdictions are earning. If you can get a job as a cop 20 miles away that pays far better, then you’re not going to be able to keep top talent in the District.

        • Fair enough. So why doesn’t the union chief cite the comparative statistics? And frankly those numbers should include the value of the various benefits that DC officers get – pension, insurance, health care, etc. – since generally speaking urban forces get much better benefit packages than suburban counterparts who work for smaller forces.

          • That’s what happened in the arbitration. FOP and MPD both made offers based on the comparative salaries of other departments. FOP made their comparison with cost-of-living adjusted salaries in Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia, PA; and San Francisco, CA.
            .
            MPD measured its salary competitiveness against officers’ wages in Alexandria City; Arlington County; Baltimore; Baltimore County; Fairfax County; Howard County; Montgomery County; Prince George’s County; and Prince William County.
            .
            The DC Code says:
            “Compensation shall be competitive with that provided to other public sector employees having comparable duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and working conditions by occupational groups. For the purpose of this paragraph, compensation shall be deemed to be competitive if it falls reasonably within the range of compensation prevailing in the Washington, D.C., Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA); provided, that compensation levels may be examined for public and/or private employees outside the area and/or for federal government employees when necessary to establish a reasonably representative statistical basis for compensation comparisons, or when conditions in the local labor market require a larger sampling of prevailing compensation levels.”
            .
            The arbitrator ruled there was no good reason to compare outside the DC SMSA, so he ruled in favor of MPD’s proposal.
            .
            There’s no where within 20 miles that a cop can be paid far more. There might be other reasons to choose to work in the suburbs instead of DC, but a much higher salary isn’t one of them.

      • only S.O.D. gets overtime Thanks!So the officers that arent in Special Operations Division dont get OT but you have no problem with paying Cathy $253,000 PLUS OT HUH?

  • There’s no basis for a raise in this “open letter” other than a bunch of only marginally relevant demographic data. None of the various “statistics” are normalized for the size or experience of the various police forces. The ad hominem attacks on the political standings of Lanier and Gray are unprofessional. And the complaining about the “dangerous” aspects of the job seems a bit preposterous, given that it’s big city police work and presumably there are very good disability and death benefits for officers who get hurt or killed.

    Maybe if the FOP focused on the economics of what their members have achieved in reducing or preventing crime, or even cited the comparative median salaries of rookie, mid-career, and detective-level officers, I would consider their complaints about being underpaid. As it is, however, this letter is just a bunch of rhetorical hot air. And frankly the uniformed corps public image – with members being arrested for child prostitution, child molestation, etc. – is not doing them any favors.

  • I’m generally pro-union and pro-police, but I think this letter is really lame. They brought their contract (which includes a pay raise) to arbitration, and the arbitrator ruled the raise they’re getting is fair. So now quit whining and accept your pay raise. And maybe next time do a better job arguing your case to the arbitrator, if it’s really dsuch a travesty.

    Baumann has always seemed like an overly confrontational jerk, though, so I suppose this letter isn’t especially surprising.

    • +1 to “They brought their contract (which includes a pay raise) to arbitration, and the arbitrator ruled the raise they’re getting is fair. So now quit whining and accept your pay raise. And maybe next time do a better job arguing your case to the arbitrator, if it’s really such a travesty.”

  • I would appreciate the chance to discuss these important issues with a member of the MPD. Now if only I could find one… one who’s not in the car with the windows up, or hunched over a phone…

  • houseintherear

    Guess what. Teachers in this area (in basically every district/county) haven’t had raises in 7+ years. Them’s the breaks when the economy is bad, whether or not people agree that it’s fair. It’s hard to believe a raise was turned down/fought… wow. I can’t imagine teachers’ unions turning down a raise at this point… then again, you never know what those fools will do.

    • Did you like the raise you gave Cathy 253,000 and it will go up every year until shes gone! hmmmm? you ppl kill me

      • Heads of organizations tend to make a lot more than the rank and file. $253k doesn’t seem outrageous to me for a police chief. If you think it is, please try to explain why without resorting to personal attacks.

  • This is gonna be a toughie for my fellow Republicans. On the one hand we are anti-Union. On the other hand, we are pro-police to the point that we support dictatorial powers for the same. For example of this dissonance, look no further than Wisconsin, where anti-Union crusader Gov. Scott Walker, and his legiature, imposed stringent new requirements upon all organized state employees except, of course, those organized employees who happen to be in law enforcement. We Republicans have some ‘splainin’ to do if we object to this law enforcement demand!

  • Starting salaries for DC police officers are openly advertised in job announcements, probably could be found on the web. The last time I paid attention, DC starting salaries were considered quite good, and with OT an officer could double or triple that. OT is very generous here.

    Not to say that they don’t deserve even more money, but a small town cop isn’t making what they make either.

    • Suburban police up and down the NE corridor on avg make considerably more money than MPD, particularly in NJ

    • They dont get OT! Only ppl Cathy lets get OT which is The special operations division everybody else does not. She sure has the public fooled

  • andy

    I would like to know how much officers make on our side of Southern Avenue and how much they make on the PG side of Southern Avenue.

  • From http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/salary-and-benefits:

    “The starting salary for police officers is $48,715 a year, effective October 14, 2007. After 18 months of service, most police officers can expect to earn a base salary of approximately $53,300 a year. Recruits begin earning their full salary upon entering the Academy. A top step officer can earn $86,738 after 25 years of service.”

    There is also step information here: http://dchr.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dchr/publication/attachments/union_police_fy12.pdf

  • Full disclosure: I’m the wife of a MPD detective. Here’s more reasoned explanation of their position.

    I think MPD officers have a pretty decent case here, despite the utter incompetency of the FOP: their salaries have not even kept up with inflation rates. So in the six or seven years that they have not received a raise, the overall value of their salaries has fallen by 1-3.5% a year. In my mind, the city is telling MPD that officers have been overvalued.

    If DC is interested in maintaining one of the best city police forces in the country, they need to be able to attract and maintain talent. My husband could do anything for a living (he is very well-educated), but he CHOOSES to serve the community as a police officer and he takes that responsibility very seriously. Still, he deserves fair compensation that keeps up with inflation as a bare minimum. If this keeps up, MPD will lose even more of their best guys to surrounding jurisdictions and federal law enforcement agencies, and we’ll see even more awful news stories about officers who have committed crimes or otherwise embarrassed the department. Recruitment and retention will suffer miserably. Mark my words.

    I’d also like to add that when running for office the first time, Mayor Gray blatantly lied to the FOP in order to earn their endorsement. He promised to let Chief Lanier go, then reneged on that promise. Needless to say, police families WILL NOT be supporting Mayor Gray in this year’s elections.

    I’d also like to thank Tommy Wells for introducing an ambitious bill in the council that would have righted some of this wrong. I don’t think it will pass, but it was appreciated by all of us.

    • Since you posted, exactly how much does your husband make? I’m a DC taxpayer and would like to judge for myself if he’s underpaid. Also, do you and he actually live in DC? Since 2/3rd of the force don’t, I’d like to know. Also, please include something to substantiate your claim that Gray said he would fire Lanier. While I voted for Fenty, I clearly remember Gray saying at a debate that Lanier was doing a great job.

      • Obviously, I am not going to post on a public blog how much money my husband makes. Why does that matter? Google the pay scales. They are publicly available and posted above. Yes, we are homeowners in DC and he has lived in DC since he first entered the academy. Does that impact your opinion on whether or not these officers deserve raises? And I do not have a citation of a transcript of Gray telling the police union in meetings that he’d let Lanier go. Admittedly, that was hearsay from his union rep. But given how much MPD officers dislike Lanier, it follows logcially that they’d endorse the candidate who promised to get rid of her.

        • Without knowing his step and tenure, I can’t calculate his rate. It’s not like I’m asking for your social security number. Yes, it matters if you live in DC, far too many of the officers don’t. And on your last point, looks like the union lied to you again. If anything, you should be pissed at the Union not the Mayor. Btw, no one else in government, with exception of the military gets the kind of retire that MPD has. As a fed, my pension is gone, your husband still has one, and a very generous one at that. I’m a GS14 marine corps vet with a graduate degree, I bet he makes more than me.

          • Two posts above yours it says the top salary after 25 years is $86,000. If you’re a GS-14 you are already making more than that in DC even if you are at the beginning steps. Feds have a pension albeit they need to pay more into it. I don’t know the answer to a fair wage but I appreciated hearing from someone who this impacts at home and not really sure why it was necessary to jump down her throat. All service should be admired and properly compensated; life doesn’t need to be seen as zero sum.

          • Here’s the deal. I am also a wife of an MPD officer and they are underpaid! And I’m tired of people saying they are rich. NO THE HELL WE ARE NOT! Cathy makes 253,000 and could careless that her officers are the ones out here making her look good and not being paid for it. Oh and Gray is a joke. Anyway, we cant afford to live in DC. Oh and I’m from DC Georgia ave to be exact! Went to Park View elementary and Cardozo HS my grandparents still live in the house they bought in 1984 for $46,000 that’s now is worth $400,000. Hmmm, shows you how much DC has changed. Cant afford that type of house and that’s DC normal real estate now! My husband goes above and beyond at work and never gets any respect for it. Honestly, I don’t know how he protects a bunch of people that have no respect for police and fire or military. Back to my point and Jamie’s it is public information how much they make dc.gov will show you. Now look how much it cost to live in DC. You will see we can’t afford it. DC offers no incentive for there employees to live there. PG county gives incentives for there employees to be able to live were they serve. The taxpayers of PG county want this because they have police 24/7 in the apartment communities and residential communities. DC doesn’t respect their law enforcement I can tell by your tone. You sir and others are probably people who moved to DC and think you know everything about this town. Well you don’t the Mayors corrupt, the councils corrupt and as long as they have taxpayers like you who they can blind by buying 9 million dollars in trash cans and say they are changing the city they will. Truth is crime has gone up but you will see what I mean come summertime. While they give themselves big pay days (look it up), under educate your kids because the don’t want to pay the teachers and raise taxes. Enough said!!!!!
            Reply

    • <iIf DC is interested in maintaining one of the best city police forces in the country, they need to be able to attract and maintain talent.

      Bull. DC’s police are often terrible. They selectively enforce laws when it suits them, which is sometimes fine but not exactly a winner for “best”, they steal, they rape women at regular intervals, they assault and murder T women, and generally are an embarrassment to our city with such regularity as to wish for federalization and disbandment of the MPD. There are so many bad apples it’s long overdue that we throw out the barrel and start over.

  • Being married to a now-retired MPD officer (he retired as a sgt), I strongly believe officers are being compensated well. They go into the job knowing the danger.

  • So the entire DC Police Department didn’t get a raise because of a personal beef between Bauman and the Mayor? Seems that way to me. Also, don’t look at an officers gross and think DC Officers make much. You have to calculate the cost of pension, benefits and taxes. After all that, the net pay isn’t that great. The city constantly brags about the large surplus of cash they have every year. The officers aren’t asking to be rich. They’re only asking to be compensated fairly for all the hard work that they put in everyday. Go on a ride-a-long and you’ll see how much effort it takes to do the job.

    • No, they got a raise. They got a 4 percent raise for half of 2013, followed by 3 percent raises in 2015, 2016 and 2017. They’re angry they didn’t get a retroactive raise, for 2009-2012.

  • Here’s the deal. I am also a wife of an MPD officer and they are underpaid! And I’m tired of people saying they are rich. NO THE HELL WE ARE NOT! Cathy makes 253,000 and could careless that here officers are the ones out here making her look good and not being paid for it. Oh and Gray is a joke. Anyway, we cant afford to live in DC. Oh and I’m from DC Georgia ave to be exact! Went to Park View elementary and Cardozo HS my grandparents still live in the house they bought in 1984 for $46,000 that’s now is worth $400,000. Hmmm, shows you how much DC has changed. Cant afford that type of house and that’s DC normal real estate now! My husband goes above and beyond at work and never gets any respect for it. Honestly, I don’t know how he protects a bunch of people that have no respect for police and fire or military. Back to my point and Jamie’s it is public information how much they make dc.gov will show you. Now look how much it cost to live in DC. You will see we can’t afford it. DC offers no incentive for there employees to live there. PG county gives incentives for there employees to be able to live were they serve. The taxpayers of PG county want this because they have police 24/7 in the apartment communities and residential communities. DC doesn’t respect their law enforcement I can tell by your tone. You sir and others are probably people who moved to DC and think you know everything about this town. Well you don’t the Mayors corrupt, the councils corrupt and as long as they have taxpayers like you who they can blind by buying 9 million dollars in trash cans and say they are changing the city they will. Truth is crime has gone up but you will see what I mean come summertime. While they give themselves big pay days (look it up), under educate your kids because the don’t want to pay the teachers and raise taxes. Enough said!!!!!

  • I’m a detective with MPD and I’ve lived in the city for quite some time. Overall we’re better compensated than a lot of agencies in the south, in rural areas, etc., however don’t believe the hype that we’re doubling our salaries for overtime or living large. Starting salary for a recruit if $48,000 and goes to $53,000 after eighteen months. Supervisors actively discourage patrol officers from getting paid overtime during regular patrol to the point that they order officers to violate general orders in order to get them off the clock at the end of their shifts. Moreover, district commanders and other supervisors get bonuses if overtime is under a certain level. The only really available *department* paid overtime other than court pay is Special Operations Division overtime (think Presidential motorcade details, special event details), or photo radar cars. However most of that overtime goes to officers already assigned to the Special Operations Division or a small group of officers who have an in to get photo radar shifts. There are occasionally other details (think reimbursable ABRA slots) but again those go to the connected. The only overtime I ever had as a patrol officer was from special events that I was required to work (Inauguration, some of the marathons, July 4th) which were paid for mainly from the federal government. So to say we’re raking in overtime is a misconception since most of the money is being made by a small group of officers and detectives.

    The average paycheck I get is larger than most officers because the nature of detective work necessitating overtime, however a fair sized chunk of money is taken out post-tax- basic life insurance, disability, union dues, and 8% of our gross goes into the pension. We have a good pension, but that’s because we pay 8% post-tax and it’s organized in such a way that the politicians can’t raid it or not make payments. Because of that, our pension is funded over 100% which makes it less of burden than other cities police and fire pensions (think Chicago).

    As for a COLA and retro pay, despite the animosity between the union head and the chief, to me it seems immature to penalize individual officers for their sins while taking contracts work a quarter of a million dollars and taking credit for officer’s work. Our real pay has declined due to inflation and at the very least the city could have offered a half a percent or one percent to partially offset inflation instead of offering nothing.

    As for the Chief’s call for increased ability to fire officers, she already has that. The reason so may bad officers have gotten their jobs back is because of poor internal affairs investigations and numerous procedural violations during trial boards. There’s plenty of evidence that the Chief has ordered internal affairs investigators to come to conclusions before investigations begins. Additionally, the Chief in concert with MPD’s human resources director has on numerous occasions ordered firings despite an MPD trial board ordering long-term suspensions contrary to D.C. code which is black and white on the issue. It doesn’t help that the Chief has now elevated one of the ringleaders of the unlawful terminations, Commander Deirdre Porter, to the command of the Fifth District.

    Now I understand that there are lazy, incompetent and indifferent officers, but most of us are not dirty and are dedicated to our jobs.

    • Well said sir! Well said

    • gotryit

      Thanks for your service – I truly appreciate what you do.
      Perhaps if someone with your more reasonable perspective ran the police union, there would be more reasonable results. As a taxpayer, I have no interest in a contentious relationship between the mayor / chief of police and the police union. Both sides need to grow up and be adults about this. The ramblings of the union chief and people like the person posting as “Drew MPD WIFE” just sound nuts and won’t get any sympathy from me. Change out your leadership, please.
      BTW, as a federal employee, I’ve barely gotten a pay raise, over the past several years. I think it was frozen for two years, then a 1% increase. And many of my friends in the private sector have been ravaged far worse. 4% looks pretty good to me.
      Separately, why is $250K for a chief of police so unreasonable. Sure, it’s a lot of money, but she’s in charge of the police in the nation’s capitol. That seems about right.

  • Being a police officer is dangerous work. Crime is way down. Expenses, cost of living are exceeding these slight pay increases. Dc police deserve a livable wage.

  • What about the “police office” who is poet sitting children in the 7th district
    What about the “rookies who know nothing about the Constitution and due process of law. They go around trying to demonstrate that they know something and take sides with white people wit out ever having spoken with anyone other than the complainant
    They are ill trained
    Police shoot dogs who have done nothing
    Cathy Lanier is overpaid and should have never gotten that job. Another Fenty hack

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