The salary data has been up a little over 72 hours. In that time, there have been around 11,000 searches. So, obviously, there are a number of people poking around. The comments I've gotten, surprisingly enough, have been overwhelmingly positive (somewhere around 99% positive!).
However, I thought it appropriate to respond to something that, I think, has become the de-facto "party line" of the critics:
- Summarizing a police officer: "The overtime pay doesn't come from tax money, all comes from federal grant money. If we don't use it, we lose it."
Without pointing out the obvious ("where does the federal grant money come from?"), grant money, and other tax money can all be used to pay regular salaries and hire new officers. There are no grants that say: "you can only use this to pay excessive or exhorbitant overtime."
The money that's there can be used to hire new officers, and can certainly be spread out among more officers than just a small handful.
One of the big problems with the pay structure is that the Dallas Police Association lobbied heavily to get legislation passed that prevented the City of Dallas from raising the lowest-of-the-low without raising the highest-of-the-high as well. That means that if the City wants to raise the salary level of recruits or rookies by 20%, instead of people making $127,000, we'd be seeing figures over $150,000.
Further, by the time we add benefits, the cost rises close to $200,000.
I'm sorry, but we can't afford this.
Dallas currently has one of the most generous (if not the most generous) public safety retirement packages of any city in the country. The city tried to structure its package such that Dallas Police and Fire would be a career: the more you put in, the more you would take away. In order for it to work, however, everybody needs to work together responsibly.
Here's my feeling: I think Chief Kunkle is going to fix this. I think he has a good slate of deputy chiefs, and they're going to fix this.
I think, ultimately, the pay parity issue will be resolved. I think we'll find a way to put a little more in the pocket of the "regular cop on the street."
But overtime abuse isn't the way to fix anything (but it does pay for the oil change on that Lexus doesn't it!).
It needs to stop.