A database of local government salaries and compensation compiled by California Controller John Chiang shows just how out of whack pay for some California police and firefighters has become in the state’s largest cities, says San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson. In San Francisco, a deputy chief earning $250,666 a year collected more than half a million dollars when he retired in 2009. In San Jose, nine of the top 10 earners were Police or Fire Department employees. None made less than $275,000. In Oakland, a police officer whose listed salary ceiling was $98,000 a year was paid $245,432.
The data show some police and fire departments devouring local public dollars. In Oakland, the starting pay for police officers – $70,044.96 – is higher than most other police jobs in the state. It’s no wonder Oakland can no longer afford to keep a minimum force of 832 officers and was forced to lay off 80 officers last year, Johnson says. This year’s budget deficit is $46 million. The Oakland police officer who earned $245,432 isn’t an anomaly. Oakland police officers and firefighters constituted 440 of the city’s 500 highest-paid employees in 2009.