Those Poor Starvin' Cops

If Dallas cops are so destitute, how come police station parking lots look like the auto show?

I'm confused. We're all confused. Most people honor the cops. Dallas police officers put themselves between us and bullets. Common decency requires that we honor and respect somebody who does that for us. But what about this police pay business?

C'mere: Get in the car. I've been thinking about the police employees' political leadership, who have been down at City Hall yelling at the mayor, disrupting meetings and hammering everybody about how poor the cops are in Dallas.

Let's take a little glide around town to the parking lots at the police substations where the patrol cops park their personal cars. I'm not saying this is a scientific study or anything. I'm just trying to factor it in.

OK, we're pulling into the lot here at Northeast. I think there was a sign back there about unauthorized persons. Probably said "Unauthorized Persons Welcome" or something like that. We'll check it out later.

Whoa! That looks to me like a cherry champagne-colored Lexus, brand new! I think it's one of those LS430s. Last time I priced those for birthday presents, they were ringing up at about $48,000 to $50,000 manufacturer's suggested retail.

Hey, here's one of those cool little BMW 330 convertibles. I think they weigh in anywhere from $35,000 to $43,000 new. This one could be used; I can't tell.

Rolling by a sweet Volvo station wagon. Oooh, a cherry 'Vette. Got to be new. You have to pay a hundred-dollar premium over MSRP for these sweet things. Somebody dropped at least 44 grand on this machine.

Nice white Ford Expedition, looks fully loaded to the max and shiny-new. About 29 grand there. But who knows? Be fair. Maybe it's a year old and well-preserved with 30K on it. Could have gone for 22. But I don't think so.

Out here in a slot marked administration is a white BMW sedan. I don't think they actually sell those for money. I'm breathin' heavy after touring all this sexy metal, but I got to get on and make my rounds.

Now, I don't know about you, but in the last six months we have tried not to use the word "retirement" around our house, especially since I attempted to lighten the load by telling my wife that some of the people I see living under bridges seem quite merry.

Just for grins while we motor on up to the North Central substation, let's place a call to the Police and Fire Pension Board and see where these folks stand in regard to their golden years. And--'scuse me just a sec', will you?--I am talking to some very nice people on the cell here who are laying it out for me.

Yeah. Got it. Takin' notes, drivin' dangerously. Police officers vest in the plan at five years. They can retire at age 50. Their retirement pay is 3 percent times years of service times average annual salary figured on their best three best consecutive years. Oh, man, wait a minute. We'll get back to all that. I have been seriously distracted by a really nice-looking new black 'Vette here at North Central.

Oh, and look at this! A very nice fully loaded Honda Goldwing motorcycle. That set somebody back $17,000 or $18,000 before they even started loading on all that cool extra stuff. Man! I wonder if he's got a chemical toilet onboard? This bike weighs more than most Honda Civics.

Nice white Expedition over there. And...uh-oh. What is this? I think I am in love. A very fully loaded white Escalade. Minimum 52 large. Maybe it belongs to the lieutenant. Or the Duke of Earl.

I gotta blow this pop stand. I'm starting to get that little green man hopping around on my shoulder. So back on the road, let's head to Northwest and see if we can finish up with the pension math. City Hall provided me with some helpful numbers on average police pay. The average officer makes a salary of $56,000 a year, or a little better. He or she makes an average of $3,700 a year in departmental overtime, so total cash compensation comes to about 60 grand.

Not bad.

By the way, I'm at Northwest now, and I think I can handle this better. I see a lot of new Ford Explorers. That's no big deal. There's a Lexus sedan, but it looks at least 3 or 4 years old. I'm surprised somebody's not embarrassed to drive that bomb.

Oh, man. Oh, man. I was afraid of this. Harleys! The dream that broke my heart! I'm not going over there. You know, unauthorized personnel really are not allowed back there. I can't go. I just cannot look at them. There are several, and I think that first one is an Ultra Classic Electra Glide. He dropped 20 grand on that bike before the paint job.

OK, now I'm bitter. My whole life is flashing before my eyes. I'm back in high school. The counselor is asking me about my career plans. I say, as always, "local newspaper columnist." He's asking me again what that is.

Well, I had forgotten about those conversations. Maybe I did make my own bed here to some extent. Let's just try to get this bodily torture over with. We haven't made it by Southwest yet, so I'm thinking about exceeding the speed limit a little. Maybe also littering.

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