By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
It's not like their salary is the only thing the city gives them. According to the numbers City Hall provided me with, that average cop pulling down $60,000 a year in pay is also making $15,000 a year in contributions to the pension plan and about five grand in other benefits, cashing him out at about 80 grand a year.
And don't tell me everybody gets benefits and pension. Of the tens of thousands of Telecom workers cashiered in the Dallas area in just the last year, many thousands will be hired back as "contract labor," meaning same job, less pay, no benefits at all.
We're at Southwest. Let's make this quick. New white Lexus, another Lexus, a Lexus SUV, a Tahoe, couple of Explorers, another Lexus, a cop behind me. Uh-oh. Hey, I'm just a lost citizen looking for the water department. He's gone. Let's see if we can get to the back of the lot. Bunch of old bad cars out here (maybe the other guys ask them to park with their own kind), nice new Acura sedan, Expedition, Suburban, very nice Chevy Avalanche (damn!), Tahoe, Honda SUV, Ford Excursion, I'm out of here. I'm losing my appetite for this. We still have to swing by Southeast and then maybe Central. I guess.
To finish the math, let's take a senior corporal like Glenn White, president of the Dallas Police Association, 48 years old, 27 years on the force, pulling down a base salary of about 63K. Let's say a senior corporal with 29 years' service retires at age 50, and his best three years average out at $63,000. By my math, his pension at age 50 is almost 55 grand a year.
I could get that from my 401(k), but at current interest rates on risk-free investments, I would need to have $1.8 million in my account. I'm going to be short. In fact, I think what I have is more like a 101(k).
I toured the other two substations, but I'm just not going to go through it with you. To tell you the truth, I'm ashamed of myself. The little green man is giving me fits.
And look, let's be fair. The way most of these police officers earn those fancy rides is by working extra jobs. We shouldn't begrudge them that. If I were a better man, I know I wouldn't. I talked to DPA vice president Eddie Crawford, and I told him it was possible certain low-life unscrupulous yellow journalists had been skulking around on police parking lots counting BMWs. And he got mad. Good and mad:
"This car-driving bullshit that I hear about constantly, it's because I work 15 hours a day. I have to work extra jobs to make ends meet. And I drive a used car, and a lot of these people drive used cars. People rent cars. People's family have some money that they throw away, and quite honestly a lot of cops get over-extended on a lot of this stuff. But the truth of this matter is that they're working two and three and sometimes four extra jobs to make ends meet."
It is the truth. We all see it. Off-duty police officers are not working at Blockbuster at night because they think it's fun. They'd rather be at home with their families. In some ways they are fortunate to have a service to offer for which people are willing to pay. The filing clerks at City Hall can't really get the topless clubs to hire them on their off-duty hours to come do topless club filing. I don't even know that the topless clubs keep files.
But the point is, cops work hard for the money they get. I have such respect for the men and women who are drawn to this work. We all do. I don't even think our argument is with the officers themselves, but more with their political leaders downtown. They just need to remember times are tough for many people, and it doesn't ring true when they hammer us about the cops being destitute.
This is where you get off, gang. I'm headed home. I need to convince my wife: With an Ultra Classic Electra Glide, that's all you really need for retirement. The passenger seats on those babies are perfectly designed for those real fast transcontinental trips when the two of you are fleeing your creditors.