Through data acquired by a California Public Records Act Request made in 2019, the UCLA School of Law’s Criminal Justice Program released a four page brief on the budget of the Culver CIty Police Department (CCPD) that focused on potentially excessive salary payments to officers by the department. The report was shared by the Culver City Action Network on its Facebook page.
“In 2020, the phrase “defund the police” has become common parlance as movements to reimagine public safety and reform police agencies have gained traction,” the breakdown opens. “‘Defunding’ refers to shrinking law enforcement budgets in order to shift resources and priorities to community-based services and solutions to prevent and respond to harm and conflict.”
The breakdown first notes that the CCPD’s 2019 budget — which is publicly available data provided by the city at budget.culvercity.org — was $44,489,770, and there were 119 sworn personnel employed. However, monthly reports released by CCPD contradict the latter numbers somewhat. According to the monthly reports released by the CCPD, 109 sworn personnel were employed on Jan. 14, 2019 with nine sworn personnel openings.
That number held true through June 30, 2019, as the June 2019 report indicates 109 sworn personnel with five sworn personnel openings. When accounting for current personnel and department openings, the number does more closely align with the number at the end of 2019, with 117 sworn personnel and two openings in the department on Nov. 30, 2019. The number of planned sworn personnel (sworn personnel + sworn staff openings) was as high as 130, when there were as many as 13 openings with the 117 sworn personnel already in place at the end of June 2019, according to the department’s monthly reports.
The brief noted that the CCPD budget is 4x greater than the $10,656,734 budget for the Parks, Recreation, and Community Services department; and 144x greater than the $307,795 allotted for Culver City After School Programs. However, the third claim, which says the CCPD budget was 22x greater than what was allotted for housing protections, rental assistance, and homelessness projects. At $4,147,591 budgeted in 2019, the CCPD budget was approximately 11x greater than for projects in this category. The budget for housing protections, rental assistance, and homelessness projects were distributed as follows:
- Rental Assistance – $1,899,731
- Housing Protections – $1,061,826
- Fair Housing – $570,000
- Rental Assistance Payments – $268,000
- Homeless Rental Assistance Program – $171,616
- Homeless Program – $125,168
- Homelessness Services – $50,000
- Mortgage Assistance – $1,250
- Total – $4,147,591
The breakdown then turns to individual salaries, noting that 41% of the CCPD’s budget goes to sworn personnel salaries. According to the adopted budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the official number for the 2018-2019 full time salary expenses — which includes regular overtime and special event overtime pay on top of regular salaries — comes out to $18,500,959, which does make up about 41.5% of the CCPD budget. The 2019-2020 fiscal year saw a 11.7% increase in regular salaries, bumping that number up to almost 45% of the total budget.
However, it is less about the salaries themselves and more about how they are distributed that is a concern, according to the UCLA breakdown. The term “other pay” is “a catchall term encompassing income that does not fall into regular pay, overtime, or benefits,” and this is what the brief seems most concerned about.
According to the brief, CCPD has used income in this ‘other pay’ category to “significantly increase the salaries of CCPD sworn personnel.” According to the report, one instance saw an officer’s salary increasing by 122% through ‘other pay.’ Additionally, the Police Chief received $162,741 in ‘other pay’ in 2019, which was more than 44% of the sworn personnel’s total salaries.
‘Other pay’ is broken down into four categories in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the Culver City Police Officers Association (CCPOA) and the Culver City Police Management Group (CCPMG): POST pay, longevity pay, unused vacation, and special assignments.
Post pay are bonuses received from earning state professional certification via the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). There are six certification levels, and sworn personnel at CCPD receive a 17.5% increase to their base salary if they acquire a Supervisory POST certificate, which is the fourth level certificate.
Longevity pay, as the name suggests, is a salary increase given to officers who have reached a certain number of consecutive years serving. Half of CCPD receive longevity pay, with a median salary increase of $7,693, according to the report. The longevity pay provided to Culver City Police officers is over twice as much as what is paid out by the Culver City Employees’ Association, which represents full-time non-management, non-safety, general service employees, and unclassified regular part-time general service employees.
The unused vacation section allows CCPD officers to be eligible for potential cash payouts based on excess accrued vacation days. Almost 75% of officers receive some form of unused vacation payment in a wide range of totals, with the median payment being $6,354.81 and the highest of 2019 at $43,999.
The fourth and final category is for special assignments, which provides a 4% salary increase for when an officer is given an assignment designated as special, such as K-9, patrol, or school resource officer.
The report noted the major discrepancy between other pay given to police officers and Culver City teachers, noting that while 100% of employees with the title of police officer or higher at CCPD receive some form of ‘other pay,’ only 14% of teachers received it. The amounts were substantially different as well, with the median that officers receive resting at four times higher than the median for teachers who do receive ‘other pay.’
Finally, the dramatic difference in ‘other pay’ between CCPD and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), as well as the Los Angeles Sheriffs’ Department (LASD) was highlighted by the breakdown. 28% of CCPD’s budget is sunk in ‘other pay,’ compared to just 9% for LASD and 4% for LAPD.
“If CCPD reduced its “Other Pay” budget to equal the average “Other Pay” of LAPD, they would save $4.8 million per fiscal year, the equivalent of 10% of their 2019 budget,” the report concluded.
“These savings, if shifted to other departments within Culver City, could increase the after-school programs budget 16 fold or could double the budget for housing protections, rental assistance and homelessness projects.”