Washington DC region’s police-fire chiefs earn more than state governors www.privateofficer.com
Washington DC June 6 2011 The Washington region’s police and fire chiefs take home six-figure salaries, with many earning more than their state governors and the president’s closest advisers.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier wins the prize for the region’s highest-paid top cop with her $253,000 annual salary. The next-closest is Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger, who will earn $216,600 this year. Montgomery County Fire Chief Richard Bowers is the region’s highest-paid firefighter, taking home $190,000. That’s just $3,000 more than D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe and $15,000 more than the salary for Fairfax County’s fire chief.
By comparison, the salaries for President Obama’s Chief of Staff William Daley, spokesman Jay Carney and other advisers are capped at about $172,000. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley makes less than all but one top public safety official in the area with his $150,000 annual salary. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell earns a $175,000 salary — the same as Fairfax County Fire Chief Ronald Mastin.
Police chief salaries: D.C.: $253,000
Montgomery County: $216,000
Prince George’s County: $180,000
Fairfax County: $176,000
Arlington County: $175,000
Prince William County: $156,000
City of Alexandria: $148,000
Fire chief salaries:
Montgomery County: $190,000
Fairfax County: $175,000
Prince George’s County: $165,000
Arlington County: $164,000
City of Alexandria: $148,000
*The Prince William County fire department did not provide salary data for its fire chief by deadline.
“There’s no explanation for why we’re paying some [city officials] more than members of the federal Cabinet,” at-large D.C. Councilman Phil Mendelson said at a recent council hearing, expressing his frustration over a lack of justification for some of the city’s high salaries.
Some county officials defended the high salaries as critical to attracting people to do tough jobs.
Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s office was direct with its support of Bowers’ salary.
“Chief Bowers runs the largest combination service [with Fairfax] in the national capital region,” Leggett spokesman Patrick Lacefield said in an email to The Washington Examiner. “The county is lucky to have him and he’s worth every penny.”
Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner was also supportive of Bower.
“We’re well served by him and if his salary is comparable to the salary for the D.C. fire chief, given our population and demand, that’s pretty good,” Berliner said.
But in other cases, the high salaries irk the rank-and-file officers.
Lanier’s salary has grown from $175,000 to $253,000 since she was named police chief by former Mayor Adrian Fenty in January 2007. The steady climb has police union chief Kris Baumann fuming.
“It is indefensible that we have 400 fewer cops on the street and are continuing to lose officers at an alarming rate, while at the same time, the chief has increased her compensation by over 35 percent in the past three years,” Baumann said. “The chief has taken no responsibility for the loss of officers, but has admitted that the decrease had made the city unsafe.”
Earlier this year, Lanier said it would mean “trouble” for the District if the number of sworn officers fell below 3,800. The force currently has about 3,850 sworn members and is losing about 15 a month to attrition.
Mayor Vincent Gray’s administration defended Lanier’s and Ellerbe’s salaries at a recent D.C. Council hearing, saying the chief’s annual income was the product of a “market analysis” that took into account the District’s unique status as being “not quite a state and more than a municipality.”
D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown said the salary for the chiefs has always been higher than other areas.
“The real question is, what are we getting in return,” Brown said. “That’s what residents want to know.”