Throwing More Money at Police 

Oakland already directs a larger percentage of its budget to police than comparable cities nationwide, yet it's planning to spend even more money without demanding reforms.

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An examination of OPOA's current contract with the city confirmed Hayman's point. There are eight other categories of premium pay for which OPD officers can stack on top of each other to obtain paychecks that are often double their base salaries.

In response to a request for information, OPD confirmed that as of May 2013 there were twenty officers also assigned to a task other than their permanent assignment due to a medical condition. There are even more who are working jobs like evidence technician, or who are receiving standby pay because of the lack of civilian employees to fulfill basic jobs that don't require highly paid officers.

A city report from 2008 identified 47 positions within OPD that were then being filled by sworn officers but could be carried out by civilians. These roles included four dispatchers, five evidence technicians, six service technicians, ten complaint investigators, and various desk jobs occupied by sergeants, lieutenants, and police officers whose pay was easily double the cost of a civilian in the same role. The report concluded that shifting these officers onto patrol and filling the positions with civilians would save at least $3.8 million. A 2005 report by the Police Executive Research Forum on OPD's job assignments found 58 positions that could be civilianized.

Another way to reduce costs is for the department to get a better handle on the problem of having so many officers who are being paid for not working at all. In response to a Public Records Act request, OPD indicated that, on average, 63 officers a week were out on medical leave in 2012. Having so many officers on medical leave at a time further drives up costs for the department, because it forces OPD to pay other cops overtime to fill shifts.

And, finally, one of the most effective ways for the department to cut expenses would involve complying with the federal consent decree, also known as the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA), on police misconduct. The consent decree has cost the city at least $6 million since 2003, according to a KTVU report from February 2013. Those costs are largely due to the expenditures related to independent monitoring teams that oversee OPD's federal reforms. Legal settlements for police-misconduct cases cost the city an additional $58 million from 2000 to 2010, and average $3.6 million per year from 2006 through 2012. Oakland also has paid out $1.3 million during the past year and a half for outside consultants retained to independently review misconduct cases related to Occupy Oakland, devise crime reduction plans for the department, and offer advice on community relations.

"The city is paying more money in police liability suits than San Jose and San Francisco combined and nearly twice over," civil rights attorney Jim Chanin noted. "We did the NSA because of this huge civil rights case called The Riders. Complying with the NSA would drastically reduce the city's liability."

*Editor's Note: We failed to note that Oakland's proposed 2013-2015 budget mixed police, fire, and other city employees in its "sworn" salaries category. Thus, we erroneously stated that OPD sworn salaries are double the civilian total. In fact, OPD officer salaries constitute 40 percent of the city's total general fund salaries. The $202 million Oakland has budgeted as total compensation for "sworn" employees next year includes $80 million for fire employees. Thus, Oakland's police will be paid $120 million in total compensation compared to the city's civilian employees, who will receive $104 million. In addition, our story stated that, out of the city's entire billion-plus-dollar budget, OPD officers receive almost half of every payroll dollar spent. But because the city doesn't break out OPD and fire payroll into separate categories in its public budget document, this figure includes fire and other employees as sworn officers of the city. The true proportion of OPD's share appears to be one quarter.

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