Police unions in CA criticize recent report from WalletHub that states California is the best place to work as a police officer

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SACRAMENTO, CA - Police unions across the state of California are sharing their criticisms against a recent WalletHub study that announced the Golden State as one of the best places to work as a police officer within the entire country. 

According to Fox News, many of those officers cited low morale thanks to dangerously low staffing issues and soft-on-crime policies that have criminals walking the streets. The report based its findings largely on compensation and training along with metrics of police deaths per 1,000 officers, and state and local spending on the departments' budgets. 

The report, however, did not survey officers or sheriff's deputies, and according to Tom Saggau, who represents several California police unions, "Some of the things that they weighed in our opinion are just bananas. It's certainly not what we're hearing when we do a survey of the rank and file."

One question the union specifically asks their members is if they would recommend their friends or loved ones to become a law enforcement officer in the state of California. Saggau noted that nearly 85 percent of respondents say, "no." Saggau stated that things like low staffing levels in police departments in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose, and mandatory overtime that can upend the personal lives of the officers. Not to mention, the state's high cost of living, which typically forces officers to live further from the towns they work.

Tracy McCray, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, said that in her city, the result of expensive home prices forces the officers to live further outside the city, which increases commute times and higher travel costs. 

President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, Craig Lally also pointed to low police staffing levels in the same three major cities, which he says, have created slow emergency response times, dangerous safety conditions for officers, and mandatory overtime that wreaks havoc on department morale. He added, "We don't see any of these metrics in this 'study' but that is the reality law enforcement officers face in California."

When reporting the findings on officer compensation, the police unions said that WalletHub failed to consider the high cost of living in the state, especially where housing is concerned. McCray said, "As of March 2024, the median price of a home in California is $793,600, and in San Francisco, it's $1,415,000. In order to find an affordable place to live, our officers, especially new recruits, are forced to live further and further from work, adding hundreds of hours of commute times, added stress , higher travel costs, and causing them to spend much less time with their families."

Another major factor is California's criminal justice system, where the passing of recent laws and policies have allowed violent offenders to be released back to the streets without bail, giving these individuals opportunities to act in brazen ways.

Steve Slack, president of the San Jose's Police Officers' Association, said, "Just last week, two San Jose police officers were shot by a repeat offender with three warrants for his arrest for violent sex crimes. California police officers know that no bail policies make their jobs much more dangerous, and many California politicians support a catch and release mentality that protects the criminal at the expense of victims, the public and police officer safety."

Saggau said that rank-and-file officers are tired of the "revolving door" criminal justice system in the state, adding, "It's really questioning like, 'Why am I doing this job?' You've gone into it for a reason and is that reason even valid anymore? They're so frustrated that on any given day they can arrest somebody ... and they just get out of jail that day or the next day."

Marcus Barbour, president of the Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriffs' Association said that his department's staffing levels of sworn officers is down 34 percent.

He said, "If you're not assessing staffing issues as to whether a location is a good place to work, you are completely missing the target as to what actual sheriff deputies believe. The chronic short staffing necessitates our deputies to work forced overtime to minimally staff our patrol and court divisions. Our deputies are tired, they are missing quality time at home with their families; it's about personal time for then, not the median salary posted on some website's chart."

According to the study, Illinois ranked as the second-best state to be a law enforcement officer, followed by Connecticut and Washington, D.C. The last ranked state was Alaska. WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe told Fox News Digital that the study was conducted "with great attention to detail, using a wide range of carefully chosen metrics to provide a comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence law enforcement careers."

She added, "We respect the perspectives shared by union leaders on issues such a staffing levels, housing costs, and work-life balance. However, it's important to clarify that our analysis was primarily data-driven. We relied on publicly available data sources and expert analysis to assess metrics such as law enforcement officers per capita, median income growth, training requirements, and job hazards."

Happe also said that the study does have its limitations, including areas around officer wellness, organizational culture, and work-life balance. As the police unions said, those are critical considerations for law enforcement professionals and that study by WalletHub can be misleading to someone considering becoming a law enforcement officer in the state of California.  
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That is because WalletHub had never done a "Ride-Along" or asked the Patrol Personnel what it is like and how their Department is doing. Please stay safe First Responders.

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