Oakland gets 41 officers from CHRP

Well, the news isn’t good (although no worse than we’d expected lately). But at least the suspense is over. The COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) awards were announced today, and Oakland is getting funding for 41 officers (PDF).

If it’s any consolation, according to the applicant rankings (PDF), we need the cash more than any other police department in the whole country, scoring 75.77 out of 100 possible points on the desperation index. Following us are Gary, IN with 72.90 points, Stockton, CA with 69.87 points, Pontiac, MI with 69.27 points, Muskegon Heights, MI with 68.70 points, Detroit, MI with 68.25 points, Atlanta, GA with 68.64 points, Darlington, SC with 67.65 points, Warren, OH with 67.21 points East Chicago, IL with 67.10 points, Vallejo, CA with 65.98 points, and Dayton, OH with 65.71 points. No other departments (out of 7,202 agencies applying) scored more than 65 points. Hmm. I guess that’s not really much of a consolation at all, actually.

Unfortunately, there simply wasn’t enough money in grants to go around. Despite the Federal government’s recognition of the dire need here and in many other cities, a cap was imposed on the number of officers that could be funded – no more than 5% of a department’s existing force, with a maximum of 50 officers.

The grants cover entry-level police salary and benefits for three years. Any overtime or steps over entry-level are up to cities to cover. Below, I’ve listed the 25 largest grants awarded, in descending order.

  • Oakland, CA: $19.7m: 41 officers
  • San Francisco, CA: $16.6m: 50 officers
  • Los Angeles, CA: $16.3m: 50 officers
  • Cincinnati, OH: $13.6m: 50 officers
  • Chicago, IL: $13.3m: 50 officers
  • Riverside, CA: $12.9m: 50 officers
  • Columbus, OH: $12.7m: 50 officers
  • Washington DC: $12.4m: 50 officers
  • Boston, MA: $11.8m: 50 officers
  • Cleveland, OH: $11.8m: 50 officers
  • Atlanta, GA: $11.2m: 50 officers
  • Detroit, MI: $11.1m: 50 officers
  • Miami, FL: $11.1m: 50 officers
  • Indianapolis, IN: $11.0m: 50 officers
  • Philadelphia, PA: $10.9m: 50 officers
  • Prince George County, MD: $10.6m: 50 officers
  • San Antonio, TX: $10.4m: 50 officers
  • Milwaukee, WI: $10.3m: 50 officers
  • Fresno, CA: $10.2m: 41 officers
  • Baltimore, MD: $10.1m: 50 officers
  • Sacramento, CA: $9.5m: 35 officers
  • Jacksonville, FL: $9.21m: 50 officers
  • Dallas, TX: $8.9m: 50 officers
  • St. Louis, MO: $8.7m: 50 officers
  • Nashville, TN: $8.7m: 50 officers
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC: $8.5m: 50 officers

I’ll let you guys draw your own conclusions.

70 thoughts on “Oakland gets 41 officers from CHRP

  1. Jennifer

    Nine fewer offices for Oakland compared with San Francisco, yet $3.1 m more dollars. That alone tells you how expensive police officers are in this town.

  2. Ralph

    “Things that make you go hmmm.” In reference to the very well paid men and women of the OPD versus the more reasonable SFPD.

  3. Max Allstadt

    Oakland Police Officers probably get paid more for a few reasons. The cost of living in the Bay Area is higher. The desirability of the job is lower because it’s somewhat thankless and certainly dangerous.

    I would take a lower salary if I was a cop in San Francisco because I would be less afraid, and more attracted to the prospect of getting to work in a city that is affluent and functional. It’s probably well worth getting paid $10k less a year just for those advantages.

    Lastly, I believe that Oakland Police Officers get paid more and get more overtime because in the midst of increased revenue from a boon in real estate transfer taxes, the city got lax in negotiating.

    We had a situation where the Mayor was trying to increase the number of sworn officers, and it appeared that there was a lot of money and public will available to make that happen. Deep pockets make bad negotiators. We got our 803, but in order to do it, there were billboards all over town advertising entry level sworn jobs at 3 times the salary that New York offers for the same position. We were also offering very attractive salaries for lateral transfers.

    I question whether or not we had to offer as much as we did. If every new officer and lateral transfer was offered 3k less a year, would we have been unable to fill the positions due to lack of demand? I’m not so sure.

    I believe police should be paid well. But I also believe that the city should negotiate harder. We just don’t have the money to maintain the overtime levels and the starting salaries we’ve had up to now. It’s not about a lack of respect for the progress OPD has made in the last year. The money just isn’t there.

  4. livegreen

    I agree with Max’s list. In addition, before the raid on Measure Y, Oakland had not been able to hire because the salaries were so high across all of CA, and most cities were hiring at the same time. Oakland was losing about 5 officers a month to wealthier, safer, less political forces.

    Around the time of the recruitment drive, the market was just starting to crash. Other cities started to put their recruitment drive on hold. But with the recent memory still fresh, Oakland hired with the same high salaries.

    BTW, Dom is both the President of OPOA (then the VP) and the head of Recruitment. He probably wasn’t going to point out to the Mayor that this might be done at a lower price.

    What do you all think: Is this a Conflict of Interest?

  5. Max Allstadt


    I did not know about that potential conflict of interest. I can’t say I like it. Dom Arotzarena has not been OPOA president for all that long.

    What was Bob Valladon’s position within OPD during the hiring blitz? He certainly was well compensated according to a list recently posted on this blog. And he only held the rank of Officer. I wonder if that’s a coincidence or if there’s some sort of tradition that mandates that the OPOA president is not a commander?

  6. Ralph

    Max, your words are like poetry. You wrote some of what I was thinking, but in a much nicer language. That said, I don’t think Oakland is more expensive than SF, not even it is more dangerous. But I do think OPD has been able to use fear and perception to their betterment.

  7. Max Allstadt


    Oakland is clearly not more expensive than SF. My comments about expense are meant to address why Jacksonville, FL can hire 50 officers for half of what we need for 41.

    As far as danger goes, remember that danger isn’t necessarily deadly. I don’t have stats on injuries, but I do know that the last time I tried to contact a PSO, he was on leave because he’d shredded his knee in a fight with a resisting suspect. OPD’s patrol division, in particular, does physically demanding and athletic work that can cause all sorts of injuries.

    Do SF cops have the same risk? I don’t know. But Piedmont cops sure don’t. Chasing heroin dealers and chasing 12 year old skateboarders are two entirely different lines of work. Next time you see an OPD patrol officer, notice the kind of shape those dudes are in. We actually have pretty high standards.

  8. livegreen

    A Commander is Management, where-as OPOA represents the rank-and-file. Where the divide is, I’m not sure…

    Bob was President of the OPOA at the time, but had nothing to do with recruitment. There’s a whole controversy surrounding whether he got a promotion in return for giving-in to Chief Tucker on a couple of issues (do a search and the info should come up). I don’t know enough about that to address it one way or the other. But I do know some of his rivals were also rivals of Tuckers.

    Again, at the time of the recruitment drive Dom was the VP of OPOA and was (and I think still is) the head of recruitment. I don’t know Dom that well, but he does seem like a nice and capable guy. That is, quite frankly, aside from my question.

  9. Max Allstadt

    All politics aside. This blog post is about Oakland potentially losing a ton of Cops that we really need.

    I have a thought. As we find ourselves needing to replace officers due to normal attrition, perhaps we could retool our hiring strategy to save money.

    In NYC, recruits are payed a much lower salary, which ramps up rapidly over five years. It’s a sort of stick-to-it insurance policy. Could Oakland do something like this, but less extreme?

    If we hire at a low salary, but do regular and rapid raises over the first five years, wouldn’t the psychological value of steady raises be an asset? Could it be enough of an asset to make up for a new compensation package that actually would be lower over five years than currently? And could we save great piles of money on those recruits that quit or leave in the first one to three years?

  10. Max Allstadt

    According to Dan Lindheim, if we didn’t get a federal grant to cover 150 police, future budgets could lead us to a force strength of about 600-650. We got a grant for 41. Doesn’t that mean 109 are potentially on the chopping block?

    Also, V, if you’re out there, I’m really curious as to how a contract negotiation works when one side is a police union that can’t strike.

    I’m sure there are all sorts of recourses on both sides, lawsuits, binding arbitration, etc. But I want to know what the extremes of this negotiation process could end up being. And of course, because these things rarely go to extremes, what the subtleties are.

    What can the city push with and what can OPOA push back with? What’s the gentle road and what’s the tough-ass road for each party? The process is very intriguing, particularly because it seems so opaque.

    Any anonymous insiders at city hall or OPOA want to chime in on this question too?

  11. Daniel Schulman (das88)

    Oakland has gotten itself in a bad catch-22. Much of the reason that police here are so expensive is it is a particularly difficult and dangerous job even compared to other police forces. Much of the reason it is a particularly difficult and dangerous job is that there are not enough officers.

    If we could magically get up to 1,100 or 1,200 trained and experience officers, we would have less crime, less danger, we wouldn’t have to offer as big of salaries, we wouldn’t be spending all that money on recruitment, we’d save buttloads on overtime, etc.

  12. V Smoothe Post author

    No, it doesn’t mean 109 police are on the chopping block. The Council, the City Administrator, the Mayor and everyone else have been very clear since the beginning of this whole process that if we do not get the full COPS grant we applied for, we will open up the budget again and make further cuts elsewhere to make up the difference.

    The award announced today is in line with the amount of funding we have been expecting to receive for a few weeks now. That is the reason the Council is having a special meeting tonight to make extra cuts – so that we won’t have to lay off 109 officers. Avoiding those layoffs is the reason that we are looking at proposals tonight to close the San Antonio recreation center and close the Main Library two days per week and do everything else that is in the proposal I described in my previous post.

    It is possible that in the fall, with the money taken from us by the State and lower than expected revenues, we might end up in a position where we will have to lay off officers. But we aren’t there yet and nobody is talking about doing that tonight. People who tell you otherwise are just fearmongering.

    Re: contract negotiation. I will try to answer in more detail when I have more time, but very briefly – currently the way unresolvable contract disputes are resolved between Oakland and the OPOA is through binding arbitration. The current contract that expires in 2010 is a result of binding arbitration.

  13. V Smoothe Post author

    Re: contract again, still very briefly. The OPOA has been in negotiations with the City for the past few months on their contract, and eventually reached an agreement where there are certain money saving concessions in exchange for an extension of the contract. The OPOA announced today that the new contract has been approved overwhelmingly by membership. This will save the City over $11 million next year, but only $8.5 million of that will come from the General Fund. This agreement was also anticipated, and those savings are factored into the budget proposal before the Council tonight.

  14. Naomi Schiff

    Someone will correct me on details of this, but I believe that Measure Y has a floor on number of police and that this number is also a factor. If cutbacks go too far, I think Measure Y does not allow assessments until that number is reached.

    It is highly unlikely that we are talking about going UP much in numbers of police. There certainly is a question about the relationship of number of positions to overtime, though, and I understand from the budget meetings that that is made more complicated because of benefits packages. Although the overtime is hideously expensive, you don’t have to give the overtime worker another benefits package. So (depending on how much overtime you are paying), it may still be cheaper than paying for the benefits that come with an additional hire (assuming you can find someone to hire).

    I don’t believe that being a police officer in Oakland is that much more or differently dangerous than in other large metropolitan areas. I don’t believe that’s the cause of the pay differential. Higher standards raise pay, union negotiations as mentioned before.

  15. livegreen

    Max, while I think it was short-sighted of the Mayor to rely so heavily on the COPS funding (as I said early on), there is nowhere where cuts to OPD are proposed in the Supplemental Report to the Budget being discussed tonight…

    Of course it was somewhat predictable that what was requested would not come through 100%. On the one hand they had to maximize the request for COPS funding to get as much as possible from the Feds, on the other hand by doing so it lowers the amounts of salary reductions that were in negotiation with the Unions (for all branches of City govt.).

    UNLESS as a back-up the City told the Unions the cuts might have to be more if the COPS funding didn’t come through. Now did the City leave itself a little wiggle room for that possibility? If not, it’s one more reason to question the capability of our City Managers.

    But either way, the proposal to date and the Agenda for the meeting tonight does not include cutting Police Officers.

  16. MarleenLee

    Oakland still hasn’t gotten its story straight on why it had so much difficulty getting staffing up to 802. Lots of people claimed it had to with problems recruiting. However, Deputy Chief David Kozicki testified that wasn’t the reason at all; rather, the reason had to do with attrition (the fact that Oakland lost so many officers each month to retirement, disability etc.) and the high flunk-out rate of the academy. If the Deputy Chief is correct, then I question whether the recruitment blitz was ever necessary, and whether the salaries really needed to be that high to attract people. In this economy, I’m sure a police job looks a lot more attractive than it did 5 years ago. Too bad salaries can’t be adjusted like they can in the non-union, private sector to reflect that reality. By the way, Oakland does have a rule that if you leave the force within five years you have to pay back your academy training expenses; not sure they are actually enforcing that, but there was a big lawsuit on their right to sue officers who left over the money.

  17. len raphael

    Das has it right about OT. A la the Wire, our city made a deliberate decision around 2001 to close the academy, slow hiring, but grant generous pay raises to cops. In the short run it probably saved money and the cops loved/hated it. They hated the forced OT, awful staffing, inadequate resources but got hooked on the OT. Still i know of at least two younger cops who tried really hard to get of OPD because of the e’ffing politics and work conditions to go to the suburban depts where you have a life.

    When the opd contract runs out, how would binding arbitration work? do a salaray survey of the bay area and adjust for working condition differences? meanwhile, would think that sickouts would be very effective tool by cops. We’re not going to get massive pay benefit concessions from cops unless we’re willing to lay off the 100+, wait a while and hire cheaper cops. i can picture John Burris rubbing his hands even now. I don’t see any of that as fear mongering.

  18. Max Allstadt

    So about binding arbitration, the question that follows is, if it goes to arbitration, who wins? And how exactly is arbitration any different than a negotiation? Is there a time limit? An arbiter who gets to break deadlocks as they see fit? Who’s the arbiter? Is it a closed-door negotiation?

    Perhaps something for another blog, V. But I am very interested in the details of how labor negotiations work in this town.

    There are many reports of the results of negotiations between the City and cops, firemen, garbage men, professional employees, etc. There are countless opinions about who gets overpaid, who gets underpaid, and who’s fault it all is. But what actually goes down at the negotiating table seems rather mysterious to me.

    The last big hairy deadlock I remember was the garbage strike. In extreme situations such as our budget crunch, it makes sense to me that the City should push as hard as it can against all of the parties it negotiates with. Why does it all seem so relatively non-contentious when so much is at stake for us all? How is it that we don’t see more bitterness at the end of these things?

    Again, for another blog. But I’d really love to know.

  19. V Smoothe Post author

    You’re right, Max. Contract negotiations deserve a blog post of their own, and I’ll put that on my to do list during recess. But with binding arbitration, it isn’t so much a question of one side winning or the other – there are many factors besides salary involved in these agreements. Each side will end up getting some of what they want, but not all. For example, when we got the decision from the arbitrator in 2008, the police were awarded a cost of living increase (that they have now given up in the agreement they just voted on) for this year, but the City got more power over scheduling and deployment, something we had been fighting for.

  20. livegreen

    Das is right on. IF we ever get to that situation and IF the Union were ever to allow lower salaries for newer recruits that fit in with revised market rates. (Same as the other unions).

    And leading once again to Len’s & Max’s questions about binding arbitration & if it is affected by a changed market.

  21. livegreen

    Marlene, the question then becomes, is this twenty-twenty hindsight? When the recruitment drive happened was not at the hight of the market, and not yet at the bottom. It was only just starting on it’s way down.

    Oakland still had very much in mind the challenges of the past (competing with other Cities for recruitment & not having much luck at it, losing Officers to other cities, the Mayor under fire over public safety), even as they looked at the improving prospects of recruitment.

    As a result around the time of the recruitment drive Dom was pretty optimistic about their chances. I think with all that was going on the Mayor was just happy to be able to get the Officers. But I do wonder if Dom didn’t wear two hats if the City & OPD might have thought about doing it at a lower rate.

    On the other hand, was the rate already set in stone by contract with the OPOA?

  22. Jennifer

    Max – You are the only person I have ever heard say that SF is functional. It’s actually not, especially in the PD. Hopefully the new chief will change that. Also, regarding cost of living, very few SFPD officers live in the city — they and firefighters live from Sonoma to San Jose and from SF to Folsom. It’s a big concern if there is ever a disaster — where will all the first responders who are off-duty be? Perhaps unable to get into the city.

    That said, I’m not opposed to cops making good salaries, I just don’t see why Oakland is so much higher than San Francisco. Ah well.

  23. ConcernedOakFF

    I can guarantee you that Oakland Patrol Officers are FAR FAR busier than a vast majority of American Cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Los Angeles etc.. For these reasons : inordinate amount of violent crime versus population, and more importantly – lack of patrol resources. I would also add in that as soon as they arrest someone, they are pretty much out for the entire rest of their shift. The also have larger amount of paper work than the average patrol officer due to a lack of proper detective staffing, and the need for SOMEONE to complete it.

    None of these issues exist for Officers in larger departments, with the exception of the violent crime, which I would postulate is darn near the highest in the country PER OFFICER.

  24. ConcernedOakFF

    Jennifer – to address your issue with FF and police officers living outside the city, ESPECIALLY in SF, it is better for them to live farther away, because when their house collapses in SF from the big one, do you think they are going to leave their family and go to work? I know I sure won’t. Family ALWAYS comes first.

    If you are so worried that they don’t have enough people already working to handle it, then lobby your city council for a higher level of service. Don’t count on someone driving in from home. The staffing should be in place 24/7.

    And in reality, SF makes more take home, especially the Firefighters. Complicated to explain, but suffice it to say, pure numbers on paper do not a whole story tell…

  25. Robert

    Starting pay is not that different between OPD and SFPD, so it would appear that a difference in pay is not the main cause in the difference in grant amounts between the two departments. I think you should be focused on the fact that Oakland got more money than any other city on the list, and it is the total amount of money that really matters for the budget.

  26. V Smoothe Post author

    The grants pay for three years entry level salary and benefits for a police department- no overtime, no steps above entry level. Divide each grant by 3, then by the number of officers it funds – that gives you the total cost, salary and benefits, no overtime of an entry level officer in each department.

  27. Robert

    So if the rationale for high pay for OPD is the higher danger level, I wonder if the OPOA would accept a cut in police salaries by about 1/3 with a corresponding increase in the number of officers to 1200. This would leave the city budget in about the same state, and greatly reduce the amount of work each officer has to do, while at the same time providing a safer city!

  28. Robert

    V, it’s apparently not quite that simple. For SFPD your calculation gives $110K/yr, which is consistant with starting pay of $76K (from SF web site). For Oakland your calc gives $160K, which is not consistant with a starting salary of $71K from the OPD web site.

  29. len

    Coff, wasn’t it new orleans that had the problem with in-town cops taking care of their families and not showing up for duty?

    as long as cops are under contract, they’d be dumb to give up anything other than maybe part of that 4% to avoid giving the cc and mayor cover for layoffs. the cops are in the catbird seat with the management of opd a mess, the morale low, a bunch of cops nearing lucrative retirement age, court ordered second guessing of every decision you make, and that little incident that happened at a routine traffic stop. even if the arbitrator concluded that based on compensation survey etc. wages sb lowered 15% we wouldn’t take a chance on firing them and finding cheaper cops. not worth the risks. two tiered salary schedules like safeway has, with new starting salaries 15% lower, is doable. Would you get (let alone want) lateral transfers willing to work for lower wages.

    re the non public safety employees, under the new contracts do employees get unpaid days off instead of hourly page cuts?


  30. JC

    Oakland always had a harder time to recurit new officers not only because of its crime level. It is also because OPD always had a reputation for “eating its young” in the law enforcement community.

    From third hand info, officers there expect only half of their academy to be still working five years after they graduate. And as far as the work 30 years and take 90% of your pay home. I don’t know their average retirement age, but I can tell you I only know less than a handful that have ever made it that long.

  31. oakie

    Did you know that New York City was denied any money because IT IS TOO SAFE:


    Instead of being disappointed that we only got 41 cops funded, I sure wish we couldn’t get any funds–because our city was as safe as NYC. And I sure wish the people in this city were motivated to accomplish the same miracle here that they did, starting in the early 1990′s (prior to which they had more violent crime, per capita, as we did at the time). The cost of running the city would be much much lower if our crime rate were as low as NYC. And our businesses would be flourishing instead of floundering.

  32. len

    JC, it wb useful to get the stats for the number of cops who start, retire normally, retire on early on disablity, leave etc. compared to other cities and over past 10 years. ex chief Tucker did say that we have an unusually high rate of early disability retirements, but didn’t say compared to what.

    when you say opd has always had a hard time recruiting, i remember conversation i had with an acquaintence almost 10 years ago explaining why his kid who just got a degree from berkeley related to policing, wanted to work for opd. something about opd being cutting edge plus challenging. that it had no shortage of applicants. no mention of better pay at the time.

    haven’t talked w him recently, but parents of other young cops, say many of the younger cops have tried to transfer out of opd to other places that pay lower with better working conditions, less politics and other no pay issues, but no one is hiring. the older cops stay because of seniority and excellent comp.


  33. JC


    I don’t have hard numbers, just hearing it from the grapevine, so take it what you will. I wonder if OPD even tracks it themselves. I was hearing that due to Oakland’s pace and demand, young cops either burn out or get in trouble.They are also losing veterans fast too. The reasoning is that since for CalPers, it is an automatic 50% pension if you are forced to retire due to disability regardless of years on, it really behoves you to leave for a safer department once you have more than 15, 16 years (3% a year pension for OPD). Fences end more cops’ careers than Burris ever did. But like I said, all heard, I have no hard evidence, so take it with a grain of salt.

    I should have said it is hard for OPD to retain its new hires when the economy was good. As it stands, it seems like they aren’t going to be hiring soon. If they are losing 5 a month, look like the police budget will solve itself by next year.

  34. Robert

    Those pdf’s raise just raise questions about the competency of the city staff who completed them.

    1) OPD annual salary is listed as $84K, but the OPD web site gives 71K. Which is really right? I would hope that the web site is correct since that is the recruiting tool, but who really knows.

    2) the OPD form gives amounts for vacation and sick leave. These are already included in the annual salary listed above. So inclusion here again is misleading to say the least, and possibly fraudulent. SFPD correctly does not add these amounts into the calculation. Most importantly comparison between SF and Oak needs to be adjusted to correct for this. Apples to oranges comparison.

    3) workman’s comp is included in Oak calc but not in SF. Without instructions can’t tell which is correct, but need to be the same to compare. So apples to oranges again.

    4) retirement is listed as 37% in Oakland. The CalPERS rate for public safety is 26% for 2009, with no employee contribution, not the 37% listed. Can’t possibly tell where this number came from. The SF retirement contribution seems outrageously low, and also does not reflect the public CalPERS numbers.

    So as I said, there are things hidden within these numbers that raise a lot of questions, and strongly suggest that the two cities used different rules in filling out the forms.

  35. V Smoothe Post author

    The figures in the document are completely consistent with every other bit of documentation I’ve ever seen from the City, produced by a variety of different departments, and have been thoroughly vetted for accuracy by the DOJ, but if you know better Robert, I’d love for you to share your evidence with us.

  36. Kipper


    I think Robert has valid concerns – worksheets may very well be correct after such scrutiny, but the label of “accurate” does not explain the confusing (yet apparently simple) differences.

    I believe the main differences are found in retirement -SF requires officers to pay 9% of the required yearly cost as Oakland (until 2013) pays the whole of the burden. This will, over time, even out as the next OPD contract will most certainly require additional officer contributions.

    I’m somewhat of a libertarian so excuse my free market analogy. If you feel OPD is overpaid then this assessment should be reflected in the department’s ability to recruit and retain long term officers. I think the reflection is lacking. OPD is notorious for hiring and training new officers who move on to other departments within a few years…no officer, to my knowledge, has ever repaid training costs but a public records request may show differently.

    You can cost cut and hire officers for 41K a year as new Orleans does and have community grafting and officers shopping in the aisles of WalMart during Katrina if you want. I know this is an “apples and oranges” comparison, but I sincerely think that you get what you pay for.

  37. Robert

    Well I am glad you trust what the city tells you. So lets keep to simple things.

    First, salary. The July 2007 salary report from the city of Oakland (link below) gives a monthly salary of $5763.52 for entry level Police Officer (PERS). Multiply by 12 to get yearly and you get $69,162. Adjust for the 4% raise and you get $71,928, which is pretty similar to what is on the OPD web site for starting salary of $71,832. And it makes sense that the OPD web site lists the 2008 salary, since that is what was in effect the last time OPD hired anybody. Adjust for the planned 2009 4% raise and you get $74,806. And this is not the $84,979 provided by Oakland to the feds for entry level starting salary. So where did the $85K number come from?

    Second, vacation and sick leave. These are already included in the annual salary, and so can’t be included a second time as a benefit for the purposes of calculating the cost of a sworn officer. I hope that this was just a misunderstanding by whoever filled out the form, and not deliberate. SF did it right and did not include an additional cost for vacation and sick leave. In order to compare benefits between the two cities both need to follow the same standard in accounting for benefits costs.

    Third, worker’s compensation insurance. Oakland charges 10%, SF charged 0%. Since this is state law that there must be worker’s compensation, SF must have a cost for this also. Even if they are self insured there is still a need to account for it. Again, Oak and SF are using different accounting standards, and if you want to compare benefits between even these two neighbor cities, the benefits need to be accounted for in the same way.

    I didn’t look at retirement contribution, because that would require looking into the SFPD contract. And while it would affect the absolute numbers, it does not impact the argument that Oak and SF have accounted for benefits differently in their submissions for the grants, and so those grant applications are not useful for comparing benefit levels between the two cities.


  38. V Smoothe

    Robert –

    Read the MOUs for Oakland and SF to understand the differences. Every question you raise is answered clearly if one understands the contract and pay structure. You make a lot of assumptions that may seem intuitive to you, but are not correct.

    Also, you’re not reporting accurately what the website says about starting salary. You seem determined to ignore the facts in front of you, but to what end, I can’t tell.

  39. Kipper


    Since July 2007, there have been many raises in addition to the 4% . Remember that the current contract (expiring in 2010) was arbitrated and finalized in March 2008 and the raises from 2006 – 2009 were not paid until then. Not including the 4% that was just given back, officers received 4 other raises within that contract (2%, 2%, 4% and 4%).

  40. livegreen

    Probably part of their website isn’t updated (like their list of NSC’s wasn’t for a long time) or they’re using two different lists of inclusions. Kind of gives you an idea of where OPD might save a little bit of their money (IF they’re not updating their website anyway…).

  41. Robert

    V, nothing in the OPOA MOU addresses the issues with accounting for vacation and sick leave time in the benefit calculation. Or the issue with Worker’s Comp Insurance.

    Kipper, you are right about the salary adjustments in the MOU that have apparently not made their way into the OaklandNet documentation. But even those 5 adjustment do not fully account for the $85K starting salary claimed. (They only bring it up to about $81K.)

  42. Robert

    LG, you are likely correct, but it means that the OPD web site was not updated during the time (Q2 2008 after the MOU) when we were actively recruiting new officers.

  43. livegreen

    Wouldn’t surprise me. They had the PSO list about 3 or 4 years out-of-date (BTW, I meant PSO’s earlier, not NSC’s).

  44. Ralph

    Thank you. Last night when I was comparing the OPD vs SFPD doc, I was perplexed by the vac and sick pay amounts listed on the form. I didn’t do any of the math so maybe it wasn’t included in any calculation – I doubt it. But seriously, why would that be included on the form.

  45. Ralph

    ah ha!

    so last night as i was trying to figure out the difference b/w SFPD and OPD, i thought someone in the city incorrectly completed the report (no one wants to believe that our 41 are more expensive than SFs 50)

    now i see that upon appt, OPD gets 120 hrs of pay credited to account (i.e. no in service accrual – at least that is how i read it) allah please correct me if i am wrong.

    all praise to those who have the time and patience to weed thru every detail of city paperwork to bring the 411 to the unwashed masses

  46. Robert

    Ralph, they way I read it they are credited with the 120 hours at the beginning of the year so they can take it any time, but it is accrued over the course of the year, with the accrual ending up at the 120 hours they were initially credited. So they don’t get a double credit the first year.

  47. navigator

    Oakland has the most expensive cops in the world. Nineteen million and we only get 41 cops. Instead of realizing why Oakland’s budget is broken and fixing the problem, Oakland decides to feed the monster. It’s funny how a department with 678 officers was able to bring homicides down to 60 and crime to a thirty year low under Jerry Brown. Now, not even 800 cops is good enough to do the job. Investing money in cops will not reduce crime as proven by cities with much higher cops to citizen ratios. Oakland’s parks will get weedier and dirtier. Oakland’s streets, sewers, tree maintenance, libraries, etc. will continue to deteriorate. The only economic benefit of these 19 million dollars will be seen in the suburban malls of Pleasanton, Dublin, and Walnut Creek. Oakland should be asking for money to repair its infrastructure, clean its streets, and maintain its parks. Throwing money at the cops only enriches the cops and leaves the city as a rotting, undesirable place to live and do business.

  48. rob

    navigator, you have this backwards. the federal rules say that there’s a cap on the # of new cops at 5% of the current force. for oakland, 41 / 5% = 820. now, i dont know if 820 is the correct number of cops on the force or not, but to get mad that we got more money than anyone else but only get 41 cops for that money misses the point. we’re not allowed to have any more than 41.

    now of course the origin of the cap is that there is not enough money to go around, so in that light, yes, its a legitimate complaint. but even if you brought oakland’s costs down to #25 on the list and spread the savings across all top 25 cities, you’d only get 2.6 more officers in oakland.

  49. Patrick

    But if Oakland’s costs were #25 on the list, we wouldn’t need the COPS grant in the first place.

  50. ConcernedOakFF

    Listen guys/gals – MANY MANY officers only continue to work in Oakland because of the pay and benefits. For many of them, it is STILL not enough. This is a very tough town to be a Police Officer in. You get it from all sides, the City, the Victims, the Criminals…etc..

    Why work here for less money when you could work for Alameda, Pleasanton, Livermore etc for the same or higher pay? They HAVE to keep the benefits and pay higher than the average here or we would be going through cops faster than we already are.

    I know very few Officers that have been here more than 6 years, and those that are, are planning to leave as soon as they can. Why? Politics, poor working conditions, Burris, lack of actual promotional opportunities based on Merit and pay that is equal or less than surrounding agencies that do not have the problems that Oakland continually has.

  51. David

    OAKFF….other communities might pay more now, but they won’t for very long, c.f. Vallejo.

  52. len

    david, part of this, is that if there were a change in the combo of opd management, cc and resident manic depressive swings on hating/loving/hating cops, and mayoral/city attorney attorney support then you wouldn’t have to pay as much to attract and retain cops. if some of those factors were improved, you still might not keep experienced cops if the violent crime levels stay high, but again some very competent level headed cops like challenges, just like any other professional.

    if you create a bunch of cops who are burned out on the working conditions but can’t leave because of economics, they’ll do the minimum they have to to get thru the shift.

    -len raphael

  53. David

    len, anyone have any numbers on the number of people who apply for OPD jobs? How much higher are attrition rates in the OPD?

    I agree, dimbulb mayors, criminal “community organizers” (hey, so was the Mob), discrimination (aka “affirmative action”), incompetent DA’s all undermine morale; I’m merely stating in response to OAKFF that 1) communities can’t afford to pay cops $90, 100, 150K/year, PLUS benefits etc and 2) the pay advantage you see in other communities over Oakland will likely be eroded as those communities simply can’t afford it. I’d also bet that we could more efficiently use the current force, and save money.

    As for cops doing the minimum, well, I had to go to the BART cops the last time I got mugged, as the Oakland PD didn’t want to bother with it (I was close to, but not in MacArthur station). That’s the service we’re paying $100K+ for?


  54. len

    david, yes the cops are overpaid, overworked, mismanaged, and stretched way too thin. by their own brass’s description, they spent much of their time running from one 911 call to another, with very little followup. which is why a latino acquaintence’s family were so po’d last year when the opd didnt/couldn’t arrest the boyfriend who slashed a girl’s face. my acquaintence talked them out of traditional latino justice but regrets doing so now.

    -len raphael

  55. ConcernedOakFF

    Len – I don’t agree with your second post, but I totally agree with the first one.

    When you are getting run ragged day in and day out, spit on, berated, sworn at and assaulted AND THEN getting F-ed by your superiors and the city that you work for, WHY DO MORE THAN THE MINIMUM!!??

    When making an arrest means driving to Santa Rita and sitting there for hours, WHY MAKE ARRESTS UNLESS THEY ARE FELONIES?

    The system is totally broken in this city. The Police Department? BROKEN. The Fire Department? BROKEN Public Works? BROKEN.

    I TOTALLY disagree that they are overpaid however…. You couldn’t pay me ENOUGH to deal with what they go through every day. Civilians have no idea what their job is like….

    I believe that OPD has a ride-a-long program. If you want to really know what they do, call the city to schedule a ride.

  56. rob

    @Patrick… true. but i was just trying to illustrate how the cap is what limited the # of officers and how without the cap we would not have done much better than 41.

  57. len raphael

    COFF, do you know if cops still automatically get 4? hours of OT whenever they make a court appearance? if yes, maybe it’s reasonable maybe not. would help if we all knew what the cop ot rules are and how they are applied, who gets the ot etc.


  58. ConcernedOakFF

    Len – I have no idea what their current OT pay is for off-duty activities. What I can tell you is that when they have court appearances they HAVE to be paid OT. Also, this is mandatory OT, since they must show up to court, despite popular lore.

    But let me put it to you this way – People working the night shift have to go to court during their “night” and then work later that night…. THAT sucks and deserves OT.

    OT works in general this way: When someone is working more in a week than their allotted hours (40 hours for cops, 56 for FF’s) they are required by law (FLSA) to be paid overtime.

  59. navigator

    The problem with the Oakland Police Department has always been the lack of PATROL officers at the expense of cushy seniority oriented positions. The Oakland Police Department has been run by the Oakland Police Union for years. The Union decides on the scheduling, on the number of patrol officers, overtime, etc.

    The idea that Oakland is a harder city to patrol and work in than Detroit, Saint Louis, Atlanta, Memphis, New Orleans, Baltimore, Philadelphia, etc. is ridiculous. Police work is police work. Period! The fact that Oakland is a compact city of 57 square miles with no more than half that area considered “high crime,” should also work in the police force’s favor. What we have here is an overpaid, dysfunctional, incompetent, and archaic police department which more often than not contributes to the ineffectiveness and work load of its small patrol division by the mere fact of political considerations handed down by its own union.

    The bottom line is that Oakland residents deserve much better than what they get from a huge slice of their General Fund. This Police Department needs to be reorganized from the top down before any additional monies are flushed down the toilet.

  60. len

    re city auditor. outsourcing the internal audit function sounds expensive and inefficient. even if the outside firm had muni govt audit fraud specialists (does such a speciality even exist outside of NJ?), would think not knowing the byzantine oakland government makes it likely you’d have to put in a lot more hours to get the facts.


  61. ken

    does anyone disagree that OPD has too many highly compensated senior lunch-eaters, as Dmitry Orlov would put it?