Police compensation

So I stumbled on this pretty interesting index comparing police compensation (PDF!) in 200 different US cities. The index looks at police salary over a 30 year period, then is adjusted for cost of living in that location. The formula they use is detailed here (PDF!), and the data is all as of 2006.

The cities indexed appear to be a somewhat random sample, although there are plenty of cities comparable to Oakland on the list.

Anyway, the survey ranks police salary (over a 30 year career) with and without adjustments for cost of living. Without the cost of living adjustment, Oakland is second on the list, ranking higher than every city but Sunnyvale. Unsurprisingly, most of the highest paying cities without the cost of living adjustment are in California:

1. Sunnyvale, CA
2. Oakland, CA
3. Vallejo, CA
4. Yonkers, NY
5. Hayward, CA
6. San Francisco, CA
7. Fremont, CA
8. Oxnard, CA
9. Elizabeth, NJ
10. Huntington Beach, CA

What I did find surprising was that Oakland ranks pretty highly even with a cost of living adjustment. Here is a sample of California cities and their ranking when adjusted for cost of living:

4. Pomona, CA
8. Stockton, CA
17. Sunnyvale, CA
24. Oakland, CA
28. Vallejo, CA
55. Hayward, CA
59. San Francisco, CA
81. Fremont, CA
113. San Jose, CA
138. Concord, CA
152. Los Angeles, CA

So while I readily acknowledge that agencies all over the state and country are having difficulty staffing their police departments, and many of the cities on this list have recruitment woes of their own, I also can’t help but notice how poorly Los Angeles police officers are paid compared to ours, yet they’ve been able to successfully increase the size of their force over the last several years.

Obviously there are many factors other than salary that someone is going to consider when selecting a force to join. Still, I was surprised to see just how well Oakland’s pay stood up in comparison to other cities.

I don’t really have a point here, other than I thought this was interesting and wanted to share it.

The City went on a superbowl weekend media blitz, placing ads in 17 area newspapers:

Here’s the description of the campaign from the Mayor’s press release:

The campaign is entitled, “It’s More Than You Think”, in hopes to attract candidates who may be interested in joining the Oakland Police Department. The campaign also highlights the array of quality personal, professional and compensation benefits available. The ads specifically ask those interested to reserve an exam slot, which is scheduled for Saturday, February 23.

The ad is nice. But it will take more than nice ads to fill up our department. We’ve had those before. In fact, OPD won an ADDY award for last year’s “Justice Pays” campaign. And we’re still hovering at the same staffing levels as we were a year ago.

If the City decides at some point to consider a different approach, they might want to consider contracting with a police recruitment service (assuming they don’t already).

One thought on “Police compensation

  1. Charles Pine

    This evidence supports the thesis that Oakland must commit to at least 1,100 officers in order to hire. The council and mayor are trying to hire to a total of 803 police with vague talk about assessing needs once we get them. That simply tells potential officers they would work for years with all the stress, risk, and failure of a half-staffed department.

    Police want a career. They want to do a job. Very few actually enjoy evading their mission and getting fat on donuts.

    The residents want peaceful neighborhoods, with visible patrolling, timely response, community policing, and investigation and apprehension of criminals.

    Enough of the “we can’t do it” mantras from the political careerists.