The new city manager, Kristine Ridge, said the budget increase is no longer needed to cover the costs because the Police Department is reducing overtime and other expenses. City Councilwoman Ceci Iglesias said staff have not been transparent about how they found the money.
The suit alleges union president Gerry Serrano held a grudge stemming from then-Police Chief Carlos Rojas’ discipline of Serrano for a 2011 hit-and-run DUI arrest, and later worked to oust Rojas as part of an “illegal scheme.” Serrano and the city deny the claims.
Santa Ana City Council members will vote Tuesday on the largest pay raises for the city’s police officers in more than a decade, totaling $25 million in taxpayer money over the next two and a half years and adding $12 million per year going forward in additional costs. The raises amount to a 13.6 percent to 19.3 percent increase in base pay for each officer and sergeant between now and July 2020, according to the city. Officers and sergeants with 15 to 19 years in law enforcement would receive raises totaling 16.5 percent, and those with 20 or more years would receive 19.3 percent in increases. Before the last set of raises in 2017, the median compensation for a Santa Ana officer totaled about $213,000 per year, including $111,000 in pay before overtime and $88,000 in benefits, according to city data published by Transparent California. The city staff report doesn’t offer an explanation for the raises, beyond saying they resulted from negotiations between the police officers’ union and City Council.
Santa Ana residents and community organizers Bulmaro Vicente and Ben Camacho write about the need for transparency including public access to exclusive police records of misconduct and internal investigations in their city.
Valentin is a longtime Santa Ana police officer and manager who has served as interim chief for the past nine months. His leadership of the police department has been supported by City Council members as well as the police officers’ union.
The budget pressures are prompting warnings from the city manager that services may have to be cut back, despite growth in tax revenues. The funding gap is projected to grow to $40 million in five years.
ByCatie Kovelman/VOICE OF OC YOUTH MEDIA PROGRAM |
Hundreds of security cameras will be added to seven parks and monitored by the Santa Ana Police Department in an attempt to combat vandalism, prostitution, gambling, and misuse of drugs and alcohol at city parks.
Fernando Rejón of the Urban Peace Institute writes that Santa Ana and county leaders should follow the lead of cities who have been successful at reducing violence by integrating community-led organizations to support public safety efforts with a public health approach that can reduce crime in a permanent manner.