Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said that figures for the cost of Police Department employees that landed in mailboxes in Stockton as part of a political campaign are misleading and could hurt the city’s efforts to recruit and hold onto police officers.
The figures were on a chart in a campaign mailer from City Council Kathy Miller, who is running against Vice Mayor Paul Canepa for an open seat on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.
The uses the chart entitled “Stockton’s Top 99 Police Employee Earners” as an answer to the question: “Why are police unions funding an attack on Kathy Miller?” It’s a reference to attack ads that have come out against Miller from an independent –expenditure group called Law Enforcement for a Safe San Joaquin, which has been funded by the Stockton Police Officers Association.
The states Miller “fought for fiscal reforms” that saved about $30,000 a year per officer. The accompanying chart lists the total compensation cost for 99 officers, sergeants, lieutenants and department brass. The mailer states that total compensation includes more than salary and lists what it counts.
But what it doesn’t say is that many of the people on the list either don’t work in the department anymore and or are not part of the union, Jones said. For the people who retired in the year the numbers were put together, the cost is higher because it included the end-of-career payouts the retirees received. Jones came in the No. 4 spot on the list, behind his predecessor, a captain and a lieutenant. He said the figure for him appeared accurate.
And for the officers, the chart does reflect a lot of overtime, but that is because overtime was needed to cover staffing shortages.
The truth, Jones said, is that officers are paid below the “market rate” earned by officers in the region, and to imply that they are overpaid is inaccurate and could cause some to worry that more cuts could be on the way.
“I’m proud of the work they’re doing on a daily basis,” he said. “I didn’t want those misleading numbers to paint them otherwise.”
Jones described morale as “fragile,” and he said it was “unfortunate” that the mailer came out at a time when the department is struggling with recruitment and retention issues.
“I don’t’ get involved in political campaigns … (but) I really feel I must speak to this issue.”
Here’s a link to the mailer.