Being a cop is not an easy job. It's a **** job for **** pay.
19 officers earned over $200,000 in '04
By Suzanne Smalley, Globe Staff | March 12, 2005
Nineteen Boston police officers made more than $200,000 in 2004, earning amounts far beyond their base salaries by working overtime or private-detail shifts, according to city payroll records and city officials.
The records, obtained by the Globe through state open-records laws, show that 143 officers made more than $160,000, exceeding the $136,615 salary Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O'Toole collected during the same period. Mayor Thomas M. Menino made $152,885.
The officer salaries dwarfed figures in 2003, when only two officers made more than $200,000 and 22 made more than $160,000. Police officials said the sharp increases are the result of the major overtime requirements of the Democratic National Convention and the Red Sox postseason. In addition, officers received retroactive payments after unions, including the Boston Police Patrolmen's Association and the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation, finalized new contracts this summer.
''Public safety is number one," said police Sergeant Thomas Sexton. ''As a result, overtime is incurred, and officers are deployed to ensure public safety at all special events."
Big events notwithstanding, critics said the numbers are a warning that Police Department spending on overtime is too high.
Samuel Tyler -- president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a business-funded watchdog group -- called the numbers troubling and said that the city will have to find ways to cut costs in the future. Tyler said that since officer pay increased with new contracts, the department must be more vigilant about managing expensive overtime and sick time. In contract arbitration, the patrolmen's union won a 14.5 percent pay raise over four years.
''I think it is a factor of collective bargaining," Tyler said. ''It certainly has made the cost of providing services, particularly police services, much more expensive. That has to be taken into consideration when we have these discussions about manpower being less than it was 10 years ago. Well, 10 years ago it didn't cost nearly so much for an officer."
O'Toole and police union officials declined to comment. Councilor at Large Maura Hennigan, who this week launched her campaign to unseat Menino, said that she considers the money spent on overtime in the Police Department to be ''out of control."
''We need to increase the number of uniformed police officers within the BPD," Hennigan said. ''We are paying exorbitant amounts of overtime. It's expensive for the taxpayers, but it also begs the question: Are the police going to be able to do their job? They're going to be tired."
The current base pay for first-year police officers is $46,615 for patrolmen; $72,876 for sergeants; $84,829 for lieutenants; and $98,719 for captains.
Salary figures for deputy superintendents and superintendents are determined on an individual basis.
Officers can supplement their base salaries by working paid details at construction sites or for other contractors. High-earners also tend to work large amounts of overtime. Including overtime and private details, police officers are allowed to work 16 hours a day, 96 hours a week, and 320 hours a month.
The Police Department spent millions on overtime in single weeks last year. In early August, not long after the Democratic National Convention ended, the department paid $4.55 million in overtime. Officials said much of that money was for overtime for officers to cover for co-workers on summer vacation. During the last week in August, when officers flooded the streets after a surge in violent crime, $1.8 million in overtime was paid.
O'Toole has pledged to hire 90 additional officers this year. But Tyler said the newly released earnings numbers make it clear that Menino will need to consider alternatives to hiring more officers.
He said Boston has traditionally paid its police officers more than most other departments around the country.
According to an independent budget commission, the average salary for a patrolman in New York is $66,000. The average Boston police officer earns $83,700.
Tyler said he hopes officials will consider hiring more civilians in areas where police officers are not needed, though he acknowledged the clout of the police unions here may make it difficult to eliminate jobs and some of the perks Boston officers enjoy, such as the paid detail system, which exists almost nowhere else in the country.
''The police unions are much stronger in this area than they are in much of the rest of the country," Tyler said. ''That has allowed them to benefit by these generous contracts. ''
A study published in November by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University said that taxpayers and businesses could have saved $37 million to $67 million if companies and government agencies were allowed to hire civilian flaggers to direct traffic at construction sites.
The study also concluded that even though Massachusetts is the only state where police officers routinely direct traffic, the state had the highest rate of accidents causing property damage and the second highest rate causing bodily injury between 1998 and 2000.
Those are dam good salaries. There's nothing shity about them, thanks to the UNION...