Retiring police officers will be able to continue the controversial practice of cashing out unused sick time as a retirement bonus until 2018, under a deal hashed out with Mayor Ed Lee's administration.
At $117,065 in average annual pay, San Francisco has the highest-paid big-city police force in the U.S. Police here also make up to 20 percent more than comparable police in Northern California, according to the Police Officers Association, the union for SFPD's 2,201 sworn officers.
And police and firefighters are the last remaining city employees who can collect a retirement bonus for unused sick time, a practice San Francisco wants to end entirely.
The City originally sought to end the cash-outs by 2015 but that offer was shot down by the POA in June. Instead, The City has offered police a contract extension that will extend the buyout program to June 2018.
The new contract extension also cuts pay for a new officer to around $80,000 a year, which would allow The City to have more-affordable police academies. Budget cuts put new police academies on hold until this year.
The police union has until today to approve the extension, which also includes 5 percent worth of raises over the next three years.
If the extension is not approved, the contract will expire in June 2015 and negotiations for a new contract – which could lead to across-the-board cuts to bring SFPD's compensation in line with other major departments – would begin.
Other Bay Area police forces have seen significant wage cuts following the global financial crisis. Police in San Jose used to make six figures but now take home about $87,500 on average.
Newly installed POA President Martin Halloran – who took over for longtime POA chief Gary Delagnes in May – did not return requests for comment.
Susan Gard, a spokeswoman for the Department of Human Resources, said pay freezes and ending the sick pay cash-out are priorities.
Police at district stations work a four-day week of 10-hour days, which can lead to staffing shortages on the fifth day – another practice The City initially sought to end but agreed to leave in place for the rest of the current contract.
Police last signed a new contract in 2007, under then-Mayor Gavin Newsom.
The police budget has grown swiftly over the past decade, from $295 million in 2004 to $518 million today. Eighty-eight percent of SFPD's budget goes to pay and benefits.
Correction: This story was updated June 14 to reflect that San Francisco police officers average $117,065 in annual pay and not total compensation.