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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / City of Pasadena Takes Exception to UCLA Study of Police Department

City of Pasadena Takes Exception to UCLA Study of Police Department

by Terry Miller
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City claims the study is ‘superficial analysis’

On Tuesday, researchers from UCLA School of Law’s Criminal Justice Program (CJP) released results of a forensic analysis of publicly available Pasadena Police Department (PPD) spending records for 2015 to 2019. Researchers found that PPD “could have saved the police budget as much as $4.6M in overtime spending in 2019.” 

In the five-year period, PPD increased overtime payments to its officers by 43%. When compared to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles, Burbank and Glendale police departments, PPD personnel’s base salary is “substantially higher.” PPD also spends more on overtime pay that LASD and LAPD. In 2019 alone, the department spent over $8.9 million on overtime. “If PPD reduced its overtime budget to equal the average overtime of LAPD, they would save $4.6 million per fiscal year, the equivalent of 11% of their 2019 budget for salaries,” claims the analysis.

As the report indicates, the $4.6 million saved could have enabled Pasadena to increase housing services or funding to the Human Services and Recreation budget, both of which receive less funding than PPD. According to the analysis, PPD’s 2019 budget was four times more than the Housing Department budget, six times more than the budget for libraries and information services (including early childhood development), and 42 times more than the budget for social and mental health services.

The CJP report also studied publicly available arrest records for PPD and found that it reveals racial and economic disparities. While Black people comprised 9% of Pasadena’s population in 2019, they accounted for 28% of those arrested, the report found. Unhoused people made up over one-third of all arrests. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Lisa Derderian, the city’s information officer, issued the following statement:

“The UCLA study, issued April 13, 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 the 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 dialog, 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 dialog 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.” 

Derderian further defended the city and PPD:

“Pasadena compares total compensation for police officers against that of 10 other police agencies in Southern California. Based on that analysis Pasadena’s total compensation falls at about the midpoint.   

“During the years analyzed Pasadena had lots of events: UCLA Football, New Years, music festival, 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 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 the receive overtime pay.   

“We welcome analysis and are happy to share data, but sadly this superficial attempt has come up short.”

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