The UCLA study makes use of statistics to support a particular position, but it falls short due to a superficial analysis that does not take into account the relation between Pasadena Police overtime and security for the Rose Parade, the Rose Bowl Game, and the many events at Rose Bowl Stadium and throughout the city, which similarly sized cities do not have. It compares apples with oranges in this respect and many others as well. While its title references economic disparity in arrest data, no actual data is provided to support the provocative headline. The study did not seek dialogue, comment or clarification from the Pasadena Police Department, which any independent academic study should do to validate its findings. Unfortunately, the study fails to further the dialogue on the proper role of and funding for law enforcement or on complex issues of race and economics in favor of advocating a particular position on the issues.
A few points:
- Pasadena compares total compensation for police officers against that of ten other police agencies in Southern California. Based on that analysis, Pasadena’s total compensation falls at about the midpoint.
- During the years analyzed, Pasadena hosted many events: UCLA football games, New Years, music festivals, and dozens of other events. In fact, for the larger events such as New Years, the City has to supplement its police force with law enforcement from the county and other cities.
- In most cities, the police department’s budget is the largest portion of the General Fund. The comparison to Libraries is out of context, and Pasadena spends more on its library system in actual dollars and per capita than other similarly sized cities
- The comparison to social and mental health services is unfair. With the exception of some specific grants for that purpose, the City does not provide social and mental health services, those are provided by Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
- The notion that the City could save $4.6 million per fiscal year by reducing overtime is faulty. 1) It fails to recognize the underlying factors driving the need for overtime such as special events and maintaining service levels when department vacancies are high. 2) Given pension and other overhead costs, it is actually less expensive to use overtime than hire more officers.
- The comparison to teachers is misleading. Teachers with the Pasadena Unified School District are represented by a labor union and are free to negotiate wages, salaries and terms of employment with the school district. Under federal law, police officers are not exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act, which is why they receive overtime pay.
We welcome analysis and are happy to share data, but sadly this superficial attempt has come up short.