The Culver City Police Officers’ Association (CCPOA) put out a press release on Sept. 30 criticizing a report on the pay of the officers in the department. In particular, this report — which was released by the UCLA School of Law’s Criminal Justice Program — highlighted “other pay,” which was defined as “a catchall term encompassing income that does not fall into regular pay, overtime, or benefits.” The CCPOA called this “an inaccurate report in order to sway public opinion using “cherry picked facts,” and argued that “other pay” does not paint the entire picture of Culver City Police Department salaries.
The CCPOA explained that it has a salary survey conducted before it enters negotiations with the city on the memorandum of understanding between the two entities to “determine how our pay compares to other local agencies in our region.” This evaluation includes base pay, longevity pay, education pay, special assignment pay, and rank, but the report provided in this release also included California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and POST pay.
A key point in this debate is the Police Officers Salary Initiative Ordinance, which was not mentioned in the UCLA report nor the CCPOA response to the report. This ordinance, which is seen in the agreement between the City of Culver City and the CCPOA previously mentioned, dictates that Culver City police officers’ salaries are set “at an amount not less than the average of the base monthly salaries of the City of Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department.” Notably, setting the amount to the base monthly salaries excludes “other pay.”
Additionally, the initiative states that Culver City police officers are entitled to half of any base monthly salary adjustments made by either department. A salary control is also included in this ordinance, which gives only the city council the authority to pay salaries to officers above LA City and LA County officers’ average total salaries.
A breakdown of the salary survey done before the most recent negotiations in 2019 showed that average salaries for a 15 year Culver City police officer were less than that of an equivalent officer in Torrance, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, El Segundo, and Manhattan Beach, but greater than in Glendale, Gardena, Burbank, Redondo Beach, and Hawthorne. Of these 11 cities, Culver City is ninth in base salary, third in longevity pay, first in POST pay, and 10th in specialist pay.
The same was shown for sergeants who had served for 15 years, which showed Culver City officers of this level receive less than in all the previously mentioned cities except for Hawthorne. In this regard, Culver City is ninth in base salary, third in longevity pay, first in POST pay, and ninth in specialist pay.
This release then pivoted to another topic entirely: the origins of the report. The CCPOA singles out two people in particular: Noah Zatz, a law professor and member of Culver City Action Network (CCAN) who the CCPOA accuses of “[using] his position to weaponize the UCLA Law School to compile an inaccurate report in order to sway public opinion” and Kelley Lytle-Hernandez, Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA who the CCPOA says has been critical of the Culver City Police Department (CCPD) and herself has ties to CCAN.
Pay was still the main topic, of course, as the CCPOA noted Zatz’s salary of $355,130, which includes $49,533, arguing that “Zatz seems intent on throwing rocks while living in a glass house.”
“Noah Zatz continues to criticize CCPD employees while he was paid more than $350,000 annually (including nearly $50,000 other pay) during a pandemic where he worked from the safety of his home,” the release chastised.
The CCPOA then turned to other salaries of UC law professors, who receive similar compensation with significant other pay numbers to “illustrate public employees often receive “other pay” as part of their compensation.” The list included salaries with “other pay” numbers ranging from 8.78% to 36.5% of their total pay.
The focus switched to Lytle-Hernandez, who they say is for the complete abolition of the police as opposed to a simple 50% reduction, unlike Zatz. The CCPOA highlights her salary of $417,396, $99,167 of which is classified under “other pay.”
“The hypocrisy continues with this group of ‘educational elites’ demanding the defunding of the CCPD…their main agenda is to defund the CCPD using the cities of Seattle and Portland as a successful model on how to achieve the reduction,” the release claimed.
“The vilification of the police and the defunding of police resources in cities like Seattle, Portland, New York, and Austin have been a disastrous experiment.”
Finally, the report thanks the community for its general support, concluding “Given our resources, we will continue to give our community members the high-level and professional policing they expect and deserve.”
For more information, visit the Culver City Police Officer’s Association’s official Facebook page.