SACRAMENTO, CA — The Sacramento City Council unanimously approved more than $1.3 million in bonuses for police department officers, sergeants and dispatchers in an effort to close the gap between their pay and the pay of officers in other departments.
he bonus will be paid to 687 employees with officers receiving $2,150, sergeants receiving $2,000 and dispatchers receiving $1,000.
The bonuses come as a number of officers leave for higher paying departments. Forty five officers have left mid-career for other agencies since 2015, according to the Sacramento Police Officer’s Association.
“We’re losing people,” Sacramento Police Officer’s Association President Timothy Davis said. “It’s simple economics, you get what you pay for.”
The police department currently has 94 vacancies for sworn officers.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg pointed out Tuesday night many of those vacancies were created during the recession, but he admitted low salaries aren’t helping the department recover from the lost.
“We have a serious recruitment and retention problem. We’re losing a lot of officers to outlying jurisdictions — and so we need to address that,” Steinberg said. “The one-time bonus is not the end of the discussion, but it’s a good faith effort as we enter formal negotiations with the police officers’ union.
Those negotiations are set to begin next week as the current three-year contract expires near the end of June.
With a top salary of $85,000, Sacramento police officers make less than many of their counterparts in surrounding cities and agencies.
Here are some examples of top salaries made by officers in other parts of California:
- California Highway Patrol officers: $92,640
- Roseville Police Department officers: $88,161
- Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department deputies: $87,633.36
- Stockton Police Department officers: $86,761
Craig Powell, the president of government watchdog Eye on Sacramento, argues the bonuses are not affordable for the city. He believes paying the bonuses now eliminates a bargaining chip that should be saved for negotiations.
“Its spending is out of control. Its borrowing is out of control,” Powell said. “So the idea of spending (nearly) $1.4 million on discretionary bonuses for any city employee is kind of crazy.”
Police department employees will see the lump sum as part of their March 28 paychecks.