Hundreds of Los Angeles police officers filed into City Hall Tuesday, rallying to express their frustration with on-going contract negotiations.
Union leaders reached a tentative agreement with the city earlier this month, but the membership rejected the proposal.
The offer did not include a pay raise, and many officers have argued their compensation should be increased to be comparable to that of colleagues at other agencies. Also at issue is overtime pay, which for many years has been given as compensatory time off instead of cash.
"The lack of a raise was a slap in the face because there was not even an attempt to bring us up to the pay levels of the 14 other Southern California law enforcement agencies whose pay is higher than ours," Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, told the City Council during its regularly scheduled meeting.
"This was not greed, this was the frustration of knowing you are among the best, yet paid among the least," Izen continued, to applause from the officers.
City leaders said they understand the officers’ exasperation, but their demands may not be fiscally possible.
"The city’s in a very difficult financial time right now," Councilman Mitch Englander said. "We’re looking at about a $250 million budget deficit going into next year perhaps. We’re looking at as we start going out of this recession that we don’t do it on the backs of Angelenos as well, but we want to make sure that we offer fair compensation, particularly to our first responders."
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Union leaders said the problem is that LAPD officers are the lowest paid of any of the independent law enforcement police forces in the county, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The starting salary for entry-level officers without a college degree is $49,924. A rookie sheriff’s deputy with the same experience level can expect to earn $56,429 a year.
Currently, the two sides are working to negotiate a one-year contract.