Criminal Justice Program Examines High Salaries for Culver City Police

September 22, 2020

A new analysis by UCLA Law’s Criminal Justice Program (CJP) has found that Culver City Police Department salaries are much higher than the salaries of other law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County or of other Culver City Employees.

A significant portion of Culver City Police Department (CCPD) officers’ salaries are comprised of cash payouts categorized as “Other Pay,” which in some cases doubles officer salaries, according to the analysis. This is an important finding as localities around the country discuss whether they have been over-spending their limited resources on policing to the detriment of other essential areas like housing, healthcare, and education.

In a breakdown of police salaries, an officer’s total pay is the sum of three categories: base pay, overtime pay, and other pay. “Other Pay” is a catchall term encompassing income like vacation payouts, pay for special assignments, and other salary increases that are usually negotiated for and memorialized by collective bargaining agreements between police unions and city or county officials.

Due to a salary ordinance enacted in Culver City in 1984, CCPD police officers’ salaries must at least be equal to the salaries of Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) police officers and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputy sheriffs. However, CJP’s analysis found that CCPD officers make significantly more in total than their counterparts in LAPD and LASD because of “Other Pay.” CCPD officers made nearly 15 times as much in “Other Pay” as LAPD officers, with a median other pay of $33,827 as compared to $2,287 for LAPD officers.

“What is even more striking is that in part due to ‘other pay,’ CCPD police officers salaries are vastly higher than non-uniformed Culver City employees who are eligible for similar other pay incentives, like longevity pay and unused vacation payouts,” said Alicia Virani, Associate Director of the Criminal Justice Program. “When we consider what contributes to a community’s well-being, non-uniformed employees who work to keep essential city services up and running should be prioritized and yet they are significantly underpaid as compared to other employees under the public service umbrella in Culver City,” Virani added.

The information, obtained in part from Transparent California, an online database providing public employees and retirees salary information, and from public records act requests fulfilled by CCPD, shows that “there are opportunities to move money out of CCPD’s budget and towards other community resources, like schools, housing, and parks and recreation, that prioritize the health and well-being of Culver City’s residents, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Leah Gasser-Ordaz, CJP Juvenile Justice Fellow, who worked on the project with Virani.

CJP’s analysis revealed that if CCPD reduced its “Other Pay” budget to match LAPD’s, they would save the equivalent of 10% of CCPD’s total police budget, or $4.8 million. This amount would enable Culver City, for instance, to increase its after-school programs budget 16 fold or to double the budget for housing protections.

For more information, please contact Alicia Virani at virani@law.ucla.edu or 310-486-6907.

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