Monday, March 28, 2011
The Highest Paid Police in the USA? Part One
Most of us Jerseyans have heard that New Jersey has the highest paid police in the USA. I first read that sometime last year in a column written by George Will. I was pretty much amazed. My surprise was not at the thought that local New Jersey police were the highest paid in the USA (although I did find myself wondering how and why that was). But my surprise was that it was a conservative pundit putting this information out. And in his column, George Will also made mention that Governor Chris Christie was agreeing that NJ local police were the highest paid in the nation. And, the column noted Governor Christie was going to do battle with the local police to change that statistic. My surprise was based on the fact that most law enforcement officers in New Jersey are pretty much Republican and/or conservative when it comes to politics. I know that not all police are on the right wing of the political spectrum, but it is pretty much a given that most are.
When I was reading the George Will article, Governor Christie was in the middle of taking down the teachers of New Jersey. He was having his way with them. He was smearing the profession while trying to kill off the largest teachers union in the state, the NJEA.
It was Governor Christie's campaign promise after all....he was going to reduce New Jersey's property taxes. So of course, all those who work for the local governments in New Jersey were fair game. Alright, but who would of thought he would go after the local police?
I have to admit, they do get paid well. And the benefits are quite handsome. If you want to know how many times I had thought about their salaries and wondered why they get paid so much, you would need more than 2 hands to count. On the other hand, these days many local police departments do require a college degree. And local police are expected to be professional. They also deal with dangerous and mentally unstable people every day. They view horrific sites. They face the possibility of great harm and, possibly, death each day. Their jobs are like the game of russian roulette....you just never know when you may meet the crazy murderous criminal that will end your life.
If some of you are wondering about the dangers, just think of what happened in Lakewood in January. Officer Matlosz lost his life on a day and in a situation I am sure he never expected to.
But then again, I am no bleeding heart when it comes to police. There are many fine, dedicated and professional officers. Unfortunately, there are many dirty, lying, poorly trained and plain unprofessional officers (I am being kind in my wording). I know it for a fact. The problem comes in when we as the general public don't see both sides.
The bad side is usually hidden. Occasionally we will get a glimpse of the "bad cop". But typically, the badness, is not shown by the press or the rest of the law enforcement community. The law enforcement community generally back each other up. I think it is called the "thin blue line". They stick together, if for nothing else, their own personal job security and professional safety. If a cop goes bad, who is to blame? Is it the entire profession or just the one cop. Or is it the department or supervisors? Or all of the above? That is another question for another day.
The real focus here is the salary issue. The prior discussion is relevant because pay must be based on the question of job responsibilities and requirements. For instance, for many years, the Mexican police were readily known as being corrupt. The stated reason was that they were paid very poorly and they had to make money some how. So they abused their power. In the United States, I am hoping it never comes to that level. Paying New Jersey police a decent salary is necessary because it is an extremely dangerous and stressful job. But what makes New Jersey so special that it requires our local police to earn the highest salaries in the nation? After all, if they are the highest paid in the nation, New York City police do not earn as much as New Jersey police. And, I am sure you will agree, New York City is generally thought of as more dangerous than most of New Jersey. Well, except for maybe Camden, Newark, Jersey City, Atlantic City, etc. I would place those New Jersey cities on par with New York City.
And then, if we accept that New Jersey police are the highest paid in the nation, we are also saying that police in Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, .....well, you get the picture...are underpaid. Or is it that their jobs are easier than New Jersey police?
It is confusing. I am not going to get into statistics too much. Because it is not necessary. I FOUND THE HIGHEST PAID POLICE DEPARTMENT IN NEW JERSEY AND IT IS NOT IN NEW JERSEY. WHERE DO YOU THINK IT IS?
Posted by Ann Waybourn at 4:53 PM