About . . . . Classes . . . . Books . . . . Vita . . . . Blog. . . . Podcast

by Peter Moskos

February 26, 2016

There goes: "You get what you pay for!"

Well Suffolk County certainly isn't a good case study for my point that if you pay cops enough, you'll avoid scandal. Though I'd still like to think that's true, WTF?

The former Chief of Police (how much did he make?) pled guilty:
to federal charges stemming from accusations that he beat a suspect in custody, threatened to kill him and then coerced his fellow officers into covering up the misconduct.
Two decades ago, as a sergeant, Mr. Burke had a sexual relationship with a prostitute, according to an internal affairs investigation that accused Mr. Burke of accidentally leaving his handgun with the woman, Newsday reported.
With some 2,700 sworn officers and over 600 civilian members, the department is one of the largest in the region.

Compared with those in other departments, officers in the Suffolk agency are well paid, making $125,000 in base pay. That is about $50,000 more than their counterparts in New York City, and it does not include overtime pay, which can be substantial, or the extra money officers receive for each year on the job.

Detectives and sergeants have been known to earn more than $200,000 a year. The police unions on Long Island are so wealthy they have formed a “super PAC” to flood local elections with campaign donations


Andrew Laurence said...

If you pay people enough, you'll avoid FINANCIAL scandal. Threatening to murder people and consorting with prostitutes are another story entirely.

Moskos said...

Good point.

Unknown said...

My subjective observations:
1. Once an officer has a "record" where he/she has become entangled in legal and IA proceedings they rarely leave. It is easier for an "underperformer/criminal" to remain where they are than subject themselves to the scrutiny of another, outside, investigation. Just because the DA didn't find the witness taking video while hiding around the corner doesn't mean the background investor for the next PD won't gind them; and just because the arbitraitor ruled the use of force was "justified" doesn't mean a hiring board across the county will agree.
2. Rich and poor departments alike attract and probably the same number of rookies with criminal/social/petsonality problems. It's more the case that when it comes to hiring laterals, the poorer departments are stuck picking up the guys with a "history" because it saves the department money by not sending them to a full academy.
I once worked for a 5-person department. One guy quit and the chief openly said, "Send those (untrained, non-lateral) candidates the (rejection) letter and close the files. We need somebody on the street in a month - not in four months." This left us with one candidate who had completed the academy but gotten realesed his first month on the job, one who was obviously just trying to get as geographically detached as possible from his recent ex-wife, and two good-ol-boys who were looking for a place they "wouldn't be expected to carry a cellphone or type things into a computer."
We took the guy looking for an ex-wife exodus and... Surprise! None of us wanted to be around him either.

Moskos said...

Good points.

Yes, once you're under investigation, it's harder to get another job with another agency. Easier to sit and collect a paycheck.

Rich departments do have the advantage of being more selective in their poaching. Poor departments can't poach at all, because they pay less. Yes, they should be worried about why people are taking a negative career step, objectively. But then they might get blinded by the cost savings! (which of course come back to bite them in the form of lawsuits. But hell, PDs don't pay lawsuits!)

Man, a 5-person department.... Talk about important personnel decisions. Each hire is 20 percent of the workforce. And you have to work with him.