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Guide to salary and benefits for police officers

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The local media is abuzz about the city’s proposals to lay off 80 sworn Sacramento police officers, among other police staffers, to help balance the city’s budget.

But while information on the proposed layoffs has been reported, many Sacramento residents may not know the basic facts and salary information for police officers in Sacramento.

The City Council, which is wrestling with a $39 million budget gap, is expected to approve the city’s budget for the 2011/2012 fiscal year on June 21. The recommendation to lay off cops – as well as other cost-cutting measures – comes from the city manager’s office.

Here is a guide to help residents understand the salary and benefits for the average police officer in Sacramento.

Pay and benefits for police officers in Sacramento

The average police officer in Sacramento earns a salary of about $70,000, according to police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong.

Police officers’ salaries increase through a range of steps. Leong explained that six months into the job, a police officer rises to the second salary step, and then each year the officer rises to the next step. There are five steps.

The Step 1 salary is $56,897. An officer at Step 2 earns $59,742, rising to $62,729 for Step 3. The Step 4 pay is $65,865 and jumps to $69,159 at Step 5. Read the step information here. 

Most of the officers in the department earn about $70,000 per year, Leong said.

On top of the base salary, benefits for police officers include the city’s payments of about $28,000 into CalPERS each year for each officer, Leong said.

Management salary ranges are higher than the ranges for the average police officer. For example, a police captain – the department has eight – can garner a minimum salary of $113,872 and maximum earnings of $170,808. View salaries for management police personnel here. 

The department has 701 sworn personnel, including 31 lieutenants, captains and deputy chiefs, led by the chief of police, according to Leong.

Police Chief Rick Braziel’s salary is $207, 855, according to the city’s website. 

A consulting firm, Management Partners, studied the city’s finances and operations in an April 2010 report. The firm evaluated Sacramento in relation to Bakersfield, Fresno, Long Beach, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Ana, Stockton, Albuquerque, Austin, Denver and Oklahoma City.

Management Partners found that “per capita expenditures for the Sacramento Police Department … are slightly below the average” of the comparable cities.

The firm wrote in the report that “care must be taken to avoid reductions in the core service of patrol and call response.”

Police retirement benefits explained

A sworn police officer can retire with benefits at age 50, Leong said.

In order to retire, an officer must have five years of work experience connected to the CalPERS system, according to Leong.

City police officers, firefighters and managers do not have to pay a percentage of their earnings to their retirement benefits, according to a recent audit of employee benefits conducted by City Auditor Jorge Oseguera’s office.

Instead, the city pays the full amount of their contributions to the CalPERS system, the audit notes.

By contrast, other kinds of city employees, such as those in the building trades and in the engineering unit, must pay a part of their salaries to their retirement benefits, according to the audit.

“If all employees contributed 4 percent to their pensions, the city would save about $39.7 million over the next five years – or about $7.9 million on average per year,” the audit states.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. 

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