Leftovers Column: Money no object for police chiefs
By Jennifer McLain and Tania Chatila,
Staff Writers Article
El Monte Mayor Ernie Gutierrez thinks he’s got the finest Police Department around. “And they don’t come cheap,” Gutierrez said at a meeting last week.
He sure got that last statement right.
At a time when the city is facing a $400,000 budget deficit, officials still have managed to pay their top-tier Police Department heads some of the highest salaries in the San Gabriel Valley.
Last week, the City Council approved the salary for El Monte’s newest police chief, Thomas Armstrong who will be getting $235,000 a year when he takes over Ken Weldon’s seat in December.
Sure, it’s a far cry from Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton’s annual paycheck of $300,442 a year to protect nearly 4 million residents.
But it’s not too far behind the $268,153 Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca makes every year.
Gutierrez told reporter Rebecca Kimitch Armstrong’s salary is competitive with area cities.
Most police chiefs in the Valley can’t even match the $195,000 El Monte’s assistant police chief Steven Schuster is going to get to serve a population of 115,000.
Let’s take a look:
Montebello police Chief Dan Weast, a 24-year veteran of the Police Department, receives an annual salary of $144,996 plus a car, benefits and retirement. Montebello’s population is 62,150.
West Covina police Chief Frank Wills makes $179,184 a year. The city has a population of 105,000.
Covina, a city of 48,000, pays its police chief $151,000 annually.
The police chief in Pasadena, a city of nearly 133,000, gets $203,000 a year.
Baldwin Park police Chief Lili Hadsell is making $155,000 a year. The city has a population of 70,000.
It’s obvious Gutierrez stands behind his Police Department. The police officer’s union donated $10,000 to Gutierrez’ campaign in 2007. In 2005, the union gave him $8,000.
And in 2003, the union spent $6,000 on mailers supporting Gutierrez, Juventino “J” Gomez and Emily Ishigaki in the council race.
“We have to have the finest Police Department. You have to have a good chief,” according to Gutierrez.
Interestingly enough, Armstrong and Schuster’s salaries combined amount to $30,000 more than the $400,000 budget shortfall the city is facing.
A few months back, as the council hashed out ways to brace for a possible reduction in their workforce as a result of the budget, Councilwoman Pat Wallach suggested, “Have we asked employees to donate part of the salaries back to the city to wait for the city’s budget to straighten out? If everyone gives a little bit, then it saves the little guy on the bottom.”