The following is from Steve Turner, president of the San Bernardino Police Officers Association, in reply to an article in the San Bernardino Sun on October 23, 2014:
While the city points their finger at the police officers, while telling the community that it’s the fault of the “automatic raises” created by Charter 186, they do so with the hope that the community overlooks the obvious. IF… I will say it again, IF the police officers were paid an average wage, the costs of police salary increases may not be $1.3 million. And keep in mind, we are talking about an average salary in a city that has an above average crime problem.
What the city is not telling the community is that currently, San Bernardino Police Officers are 19% below the average of Inland Metro police agencies, in total compensation. When I say Inland Metro agencies, I’m talking about police agencies in the Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, not the cities included in the article. You will not get anyone from the city (Mayor, City Manager, etc) to dispute this because the numbers don’t lie.
And, what the city leaders want you to forget is that the San Bernardino Police Officers have not actually seen those salaries as indicated in the article. Let me remind you that several years ago the police officers agreed to a 10% salary concession. We agreed because we want to be a partner with the city in providing solutions. We continued those concessions for a few years. Then, as a thank you for agreeing to the concessions, the city decided to impose a 14% cut to our salaries. Despite the cuts, officers continued to work extremely hard to provide a quality service to the citizens.
The argument that the city should not pay officers what other, more affluent, cities pay for officers should offend your intelligence. Imagine, for a minute, going to a grocery store and trying to convince the store manager that you should be able to pay less for the milk because you don’t make as much as the person in front of you. Or, how about asking the gas station attendant to pay less for gas because your income is less than the persons who is driving the luxury car. It’s plain stupid for the city to make that argument! The market dictates an officer’s salary just like it dictates the salaries of all job markets, whatever industry you work. The irony of it is, that even with the increases the city is complaining about, San Bernardino officers will still remain far below the average of Inland Metro police agencies. Maybe the city should focus on bringing in revenue instead of cutting the salaries of the employees who are working their butts off every day.
The city leaders also don’t want you to know that the city’s very own financial expert will tell you that a city that spends 60% of its budget on public safety (Police and Fire) is financially healthy enough to pay for all other services, such as parks, streetlights, potholes, etc. So, lets do the math. This article states that $32 million is set aside for police. I’m sure the Fire budget is less than that, but lets assume Fire budget is $30 million, bringing the public safety budget to $62 million. That would mean that the city’s total budget could be as low as $100 million and the city would still be healthy. So, ask the Mayor to provide the total budget for the city. I bet you he will give you a number much larger than $100 million.
Also, I disagree with the monthly salaries provided in the article. They have been elevated. But even if they were accurate salaries, for almost two years the officers have been returning 14% of those salaries. Additionally, the healthcare benefit has not increased since 2009, yet healthcare costs continue to rise. And still, we are coming to work everyday, doing the best job we can to keep the community safe.
Bottom line is this city’s leadership is continuing to lay the blame on the employees for their mismanagement . They can’t cut their way out of this bankruptcy, their financial expert will tell you that also, and they have not presented any plans to bring in businesses, homeowners, taxpayers, etc. Yet, through all of this, the officers are still here, trying to bring solutions. We do so because your safety is top priority for San Bernardino Police Officers. The hardworking, citizen taxpayers in this community should be offended with the slanted information provided in this article.
I’m sure at some point in time, the city leaders will stop the finger pointing and begin problem solving. Meanwhile, the officers will be here, doing the best we can to prevent the good citizens of this community from becoming a victim of crime.