Oakland police officer Malcolm Miller continued his multi-year trend of shattering public pay records and is once again the highest paid police officer in California, thanks to the over $640,000 in pay and benefits he received last year — an all-time high for any California police officer. Oakland taxpayers have spent over $2.6 million on Miller’s compensation over the past five years alone, records show, with Miller topping the statewide pay list for police officers every single year.
While Miller is consistently the city’s highest paid police officer, his peers are not that far behind. Oakland police officer Timothy Dolan made over $600,000 in pay and benefits while Oakland police officer Marcell Patterson made over $500,000 last year.
Much of this excess is driven by soaring amounts of overtime pay. A pair of audits revealed that the department lacks any meaningful way to verify the accuracy of overtime, and the process that is in place for documenting overtime is often ignored. For example, an earlier inspection found that “overtime forms could not be located for 83 percent of paid overtime instances.”
Both audit recommendations and policy guidelines are frequently ignored. For example, current policy prohibits employees from working voluntary overtime if they are on paid leave. However, the 2019 audit “uncovered over 3,600 instances in which all personnel worked overtime when they were on paid leave,” in violation of department policy.
The 2019 audit also noted that the city ignored all the recommendations from a 2015 audit regarding wasteful provisions in the city’s contract with the police union.
Oakland workers outrank their peers in 90% of cities
Total spending on employee compensation hit an all-time high of $670 million last year, up more than 54 percent since 2013. The average Oakland city worker received $193,266 in pay and benefits last year, which was more than what their peers in 90 percent of other California cities received.
Average total pay and benefits by the most populous job titles in the City of Oakland are shown below:
The complete list of average compensation by job title for Oakland city workers can be accessed here.
To see the complete list of newly released pay data for all Oakland city workers, please click here.
Record-high revenues not enough to offset growing debt
According to a recent report from the City Auditor, Oakland collects and spends far more money on a population-adjusted basis than any of its comparable peers. Specifically, the report found that Oakland spent $2,490 per resident last year, an amount greater than any of its peer cities, and nearly triple the amount spent in places like Fresno and Bakersfield.
While current spending is sustained by even greater growth in tax revenues, the audit notes that Oakland fares the worst among comparable cities on a variety of long-term metrics designed to measure financial strength. The city’s unrestricted net position — which represents “Oakland’s ability to maintain governmental services when faced with unexpected expenses,” according to the auditor — was negative $5,365 per resident. This was by far the worst of all cities measured by the auditor and was over three times the negative $1,623 net position found at Long Beach, which had the second lowest net position of the benchmarked cities.
Pension costs remain the city’s greatest long-term challenge. An earlier Transparent California report found that the city illegally awarded a disability pension to a healthy adult who passed the rigorous physical exam required to be an FBI special agent. While the city in 2015 pledged to investigate and revoke the pension if they could find proof of fraud, the active FBI special agent continues to collect a “disability” pension, paid for in part by Oakland taxpayers, to this day.
Transparent California will be continually updating the website with new, 2019 data for cities and school districts in the coming days. To be notified when new data is uploaded for specific agencies, simply follow the process outlined here.
For more information, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.
Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. The website is used by millions of Californians each year, including elected officials and lawmakers, government employees and their unions, government agencies themselves, university researchers, the media, and concerned citizens alike. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.