After Sacramento's new police chief was sworn in on August 11, 2017, police officers and community members headed to McClatchy Park in Sacramento to celebrate the new chief. Sacramento Police Department
After Sacramento's new police chief was sworn in on August 11, 2017, police officers and community members headed to McClatchy Park in Sacramento to celebrate the new chief. Sacramento Police Department

City Beat

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City Beat

$5,000 for living in Sacramento? These cops could get that

By Ryan Lillis

rlillis@sacbee.com

September 01, 2017 04:14 PM

UPDATED September 02, 2017 09:43 AM

Sacramento police officers are in line to receive their first significant pay raise in years and could be offered a large financial incentive to buy a home within the city limits.

City officials and the union representing city police officers have agreed to a new two-year contract that the City Council is expected to approve at its Sept. 12 meeting. Salary increases and incentives place the cost of the contract at roughly $20 million over the next two years.

Police officers will receive a 3 percent raise effective June 24, followed by a 2 percent raise Dec. 22. Another 2 percent raise is scheduled to kick in June 23, 2018.

But many officers will get much more significant pay hikes. Cops who hit 4  1/2 years on the force will get a 5 percent raise, followed by another 5 percent boost a year later. That means that some officers will see their salaries increase by 17 percent over the next two years.

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Cops who buy a home within the city limits between now and June 21, 2019, will receive a payment of $5,000 from the city.

Officers are giving up allowances that paid for technology and uniforms, and some employees covered by the agreement – including park rangers and dispatchers – will increase their annual pension contributions. Police officers already contribute 12 percent of their salaries to their pensions.

City Manager Howard Chan said the cost of the contract is fair, given that the Police Department is losing officers to retirement and attrition at a staggering rate.

“When we start spreading our resources thin that way, it really does impact public safety,” Chan said. “If we have our more senior officers leaving, that wealth of knowledge is gone.”

Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the pact “both demonstrates our city’s steadfast commitment to our police officers and our city’s responsibility to ensure fiscal sustainability and resilience.”

“Our community should value the work our officers do, and a career in law enforcement should be seen as a strong and respected career that can support individuals and families alike,” the mayor said.

Tim Davis, head of the Sacramento Police Officers Association, said the pay increases will bring city cops close to the median salaries for officers working in similarly-sized cities in California and at law enforcement agencies in the Sacramento region. He said the union acknowledges the contract is “a significant contribution for the city,” but that it will boost morale in the department.

The Police Department has been under intense scrutiny for months following controversial police shootings. Earlier this year, a police officer was captured on video punching a pedestrian in Del Paso Heights after the man allegedly jaywalked.

The Sacramento City Council adopted a police reform package in November that created a new citizens’ oversight commission and a policy requiring the department to release video footage of officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths within 30 days, unless the video’s release interferes with an ongoing investigation.

Davis said his officers are “fine with the higher standards.”

“But you can’t have the highest standards and the lowest pay,” he said. “We also work some of the toughest beats in the region.”

City officials have sought to convince more police officers to live within city limits. But most of the department’s officers choose to live elsewhere in the region, concerned that they might come into contact with people they’ve arrested during personal time.

Davis said about 100 of the 715 employees in his union live in the city. He said he expects some officers will take advantage of the $5,000 incentive to buy a home in Sacramento.

“We want to have people being a part of the community they’re serving,” Chan said.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis