When his next pay raise kicks in at the end of September, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr will become the nation's highest paid city cop for his work as the top boss at the 14th largest force in the country. According to a new report report, Suhr's new $307,450 salary will be nine percent more than Mayor Lee's, and—just for bragging rights—$159 more than his counterpart in Los Angeles makes for running a force that's four times larger than San Francisco's.
Before everyone starts hating on Chief Suhr, who was appointed to replace interim chief Jeff Godown after Gascón won the DA gig, the chief says the pay increase was part of a bargaining agreement put in place before he took office. Suhr is also eligible for bonuses, but for the past two years he has turned down the $15,000 the city offered him. Between turning down 30 grand and stepping up to Mayor Lee on that dumb Stop-and-Frisk plan, Suhr is turning out to be an alright Chief. Although some Occupy SF alumni might beg to differ.
On the other hand, the other city officials who have to deal with the budget don't like the looks of salary figures like this. Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White also makes over $300k a year. Supervisor John Avalos, for comparison, gets paid $105,723 for his work on the Board, where he serves as the chair of the Public Safety Committee and sits on the Budget and Finance Committee. Avalos, who once
asked for hoped to keep a raise because his Honda needed some work, told the SF Public Press: “There’s a lot of bloated salaries at the top level of the police and fire department. Certainly, they have tough jobs but I don’t think their inflated salaries are beyond the question.”
So why the high pay for the top cops and firefighters? Well, because they keep the city from burning down, for starters. But also because they've got the unions at their back, according SF Public Press. The union — the Municipal Executives' Association in this case — has a whole formula to determine a police chief's salary: it's basically a comparison to the pay at other departments around the Bay Area (average $207,421), plus whatever number they feel like adding on to make it worth the chief's time to deal with all the drugs, murders, protests and other such big city shenanigans.