Police in N.J. make more than teachers but Christie not asking for their ‘shared sacrifice’ | Commentary | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.


Jul 07th
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Police in N.J. make more than teachers but Christie not asking for their ‘shared sacrifice’

SabrinM012810_optBY MURRAY SABRIN

If you think public school teachers are overpaid, The Record reports that the award should go to New Jersey police officers, whose average annual salary in 2008 was nearly $80,000, 25 percent more than school employees and nearly double the average public employee, who made $41,267 that year.

In Englewood, for example, the average income for police officers in 2009 was a whopping $143,268. With a base salary of $113,684, overtime of $20,593 and nearly $9,000 in off duty income guarding utility sites paid for by the utility company, police officers' compensation puts them well above the income of the taxpayers who pay their salaries.

The one square mile borough of Rochelle Park (Bergen County), for example, paid police officers an average salary of $126,828 last year-the highest in the state-and double the average household income of the community's taxpayers. In Bergen County, the average police officer salary for 2009 was $103,649.

One police union official said housing is expensive in Bergen County and therefore his members need high salaries to live in the community. Why isn't renting an option? Where is it written that taxpayers have to underwrite police officers' housing wants? Living in a comfortable apartment is good enough for many taxpayers. It should be good enough for most young and middle-aged police officers.

Police officers are not to blame for these outrageous salaries. Local officials and arbitrators are responsible for base salaries increasing 10 percent per year for the first five years of service and then reaching six figures for officers who reach 10 years of service in Bergen County and 16 years in Passaic County.

In other words, local officials have been poor stewards of the public's money. They have failed miserably in providing quality services and keeping taxes at reasonable levels over the years.

Property taxes reflect the cost of local government and public schools. In other words, we know what police departments and schools cost taxpayers but what are they worth to taxpayers? The answer is as long as government provides these services the salaries and wages of police officers and teachers will reflect the "political muscle' of their unions, not their "market value."

Privatizing education is possible. See my last column. The more challenging privatizing effort would be to make policing a community nongovernmental activity. It can be done. (More about privatizing community protection in an upcoming column.)

Let's face it. Police officers in the suburbs do three things: write up accident reports, investigate a crime scene and give out speeding and other tickets. In the suburbs most police officers spend a whole career without firing their firearm let alone drawing it out for their holsters.

That's why Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak's statement that police are in a "special category' because of "the hazards of their work" is disingenuous. Even if Drewniak's statement is true, which it isn't, Governor Christie has asked teachers and other school personnel to accept a wage freeze next year, but he has not asked police personnel for any "shared sacrifice." Shared sacrifice means that all government employees should forgo some income to help out the beleaguered taxpayers in this fiscal crisis.

Given the salaries of police officers around the state and especially in northern New Jersey, a three to five year salary freeze is called for. New Jersey taxpayers need a break from the sky high costs of government.

Murray Sabrin is professor of finance at Ramapo College. He was the Libertarian Party nominee for governor in 1997 and a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and 2008. Check www.MurraySabrin.com for more of his writings.


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Comments (9)
9 Friday, 21 January 2011 22:47
So Mr. Sabrin's Masters degree entitles him to a 6 figure salary but the teachers who also have a Masters degree plus, are not? Police officers are not worth the money they make either? It is interesting how everyone else judges the next person and assigns value to their position. NO ONE is raping the system like corrupt, entitled politicians and corporations. Pension plans are not bankrupting the cities and states. Social Security is not broke. It will cost more to privatize these systems. It's all about serving greed and entitlement in the corporate and political circles rather than serving the people. We have to educate ourselves to the facts because the media and ridiculous corporate spinners are not.
8 Monday, 22 November 2010 15:05
Please, enough of the police "putting their lives on the line" crap. Murray is a college graduate and has a master's. I don't see a problem w/ him making 112K over somebody holding a redundant position that serves no purpose. These cops aren't putting "their lives on the line", this isn't Afganistan or Iraq. Local police aren't soldiers, and many of them are simply uneducated, in no other position could a person simply have a high school diploma or a few Bergen Community credits and make 80 K out of the gate....for nothing.

If teachers are gonna blasted for their salaries than cops have to also...
7 Friday, 24 September 2010 16:22
Mel Daly
My friends the police do indeed do a difficult job and are sometimes called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice. However it has become impossible to ignore that the gigantic salaries and pensions they draw vis a vis the average citizens of the community have created a systemic corruption that has destroyed any vestige of justice at all levels of the new jersey system. Any of us who have watched the state change from the 1980's on is well aware of what we have now an orwellian police state where citizens have to run a guantlet of jonny blue shirts out looking to make some business every time they venture out. We have all watched the complete erosion of civil rights from the Reagan presidency onward. Most of the arrests NJ policemen make are false and they routinely violate citizens constitutionally guaranteed rights to make the bust. They have a vested interest in doing so. The more crime they find the richer they get. The lawyers completely look the other way at all the dirty arrests content just to be milking their exhorbitant fees. Most of the legal professionals dont practice in the towns they actually live in so its easy to go home feeling like an aristocrat after ruining the lives of citizens and their children somewhere else.To make matters worse many law enforcement personnel have abused municipal loopholes that allow them to retire at their max year salary so the whole shift chips in all the overtime in the world and there are thousands and thousands of retired jersey cops drawing pensions in retirement that are 40-50 thousand and more than what they made. The corruption is completely systemic. We have 2 million our fellow american groaning in their cages. At least 10 million families nationwide have been made paupers by the legal system and in fact this completely endemic corruption has bankrupted communities all over the US. A recent Department of Justice report shows that 90,000 americans were sexually assaulted while in the custody of the law. New Jersey is one of the worst offenders. Backdate this 20 or so years and you have probably a million americans abused in this way while prison guards also retire with plush plus size six figure pensions. Legal money has completely betrayed the public trust. Please support my campaign to petition the governor to salary and pension cap all state and municipal employees. If you are a cop and you cant live really really well on 70,000 dollars than get out of the game your a thief. I dont care if you risk your life that's the job and lets not sugarcoat it the overwhelming majority of new jersey policmen make their whole careers writing nuisance tickets that the keep the court dockets and the legal coffers full. To make things even more disgusting since the drug court business is falling off because of medical marijuana of late these creeps have been quietly and very largely expanding the family courts. See messing even into the family life of the home is off limits to these villains who have created the orwellian police state that we now live in.
6 Wednesday, 28 April 2010 11:31
Stephen Gallagher
Mr. Sabrin stated that In Bergen County, the average police officer salary for 2009 was $103,649. What was his salary for teaching at Ramapo (a public college) last year? $112,507. With that salary he can afford to own a home (own, not rent) in Leonia, NJ.
5 Sunday, 25 April 2010 12:18
No offense to the teachers, they have a hard enough job which society at large also doesn't support, but are I can't remember the last time a teacher was ever issued a firearm and a bullet proof vest and told to go make the streets safe for us. You would have to be a complete fool to subscribe to the notion that teachers are on the same risk level in the same manner in which police are. They do not work shifts, they do not exercise the same authority as we do and are not held to the standard that we are. With the exception of Fire and Emergency Medical Personnel, no one is.

Shared sacrifice? Why should we, who have paid into our pensions, and sacrificed far more than you will ever have to, share in the debacle which is the New Jersey financial mess. I don't see you writing about how then Gov. Whiteman STOLE money from our pension fund to cover the financial mess NJ was in at the time. Could this be because you were running for office at the time? No, it's probably more along the lines of you being just another person who doesn't get it. You live in a convenient glass bubble of freedom which far better persons than yourself have provided and you think it appropriate to belittle the efforts of some of the best people society has to offer because you think that their courage can be somehow illustrated by some chart to then be equated to some dollar value. You are a fool Mr. Murray. Don't embarrass yourself with this nonsense.
4 Sunday, 25 April 2010 11:31
Stephen Gallagher
Suburb: Perth Amboy, NJ
Police Officer Thomas Emil Raji
Killed by a drunk driver while transporting a prisoner on August 22, 2008

Suburb: Fair Lawn, NJ
Police Officer Mary Ann Collura
Killed by gunfire on April 17, 2003 following a motor vehicle pursuit.

Suburb: Long Branch, NJ
Detective Sgt. Patrick King
Shot and killed by a wanted murderer on November 20, 1997
3 Friday, 23 April 2010 12:23
Tim Baldwin
First of all Murray think of this? Police officers are not paid for what they do they are paid for what they may have to do. Pray to God that no scumbag ever screws a gun in your ear and saids give me your wallet. Or maybe breaks into your home with the intent to do harm to you or your family. These men and woman are not out there just driving around burning gas. They are the thin blue line between good and evil. All of a sudden it's the teachers and the cops and the nurses. Washington, Trenton and Wall street caused all of this. Keep it real. The police and fire and Public employees pension systems have been raided and not funded. Washington dips into the Social security fund of which they have no right to touch. AIG has not paid back a dime of the 15 Billion dollar taxpayer loan. Want to pick on somebody go pick a fight with them.
The one square mile borough of Rochelle Park (Bergen County), for example, paid police officers an average salary of $126,828 last year-the highest in the state-and double the average household income of the community's taxpayers.
1 Friday, 23 April 2010 11:31
this is the biggest crime that Rochelle Park will ever experience

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