Propelled by lavish overtime, Baltimore Police Department officers continue to take home the biggest paychecks in city government.
Seventeen of the city’s 23 best paid employees – each collecting more than $200,000 in FY2019 – were sworn members of the BPD, according to a review by The Brew of a city salary database posted online yesterday.
None of the police members of the “$200,000 Club” are top commanders, who are salaried and cannot file for overtime.
And just a few of the 17 members go out on patrols, where a chronic shortage of officers has been blamed for Baltimore’s notoriously high homicide rate.
Instead, most of the employees with six-figure paychecks are sergeants and lieutenants who do administrative jobs, supervise special units or are part of state or federal task forces.
Not all police overtime comes out of the taxpayer’s pocket. Some is reimbursed by third parties such as the Maryland Stadium Authority and Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Still, general budget costs for police overtime are enormous – $45 million-to-$50 million a year.
And these costs show little sign of abating – in fact, overtime for these top-paid officers (those earning $200,000 or more) increased from $1,689,259 in FY18 to $1,942,578 in FY19, according to the salary databases.
These increase come despite the scandalous overtime revealed by the Gun Trace Task Force indictments and trial, the periodic handwringing of members of the City Council, and the unfulfilled pledge by former Mayor Catherine Pugh to “investigate” the management of overtime.
Officer Now Suspended
The highest-paid city employee in FY19 was Sgt. Ethan R. Newberg.
The 24-year police veteran was paid $260,775 ($107,807 in salary and $152,968 in overtime) despite being charged on June 6, 2019 of second-degree assault, false imprisonment and misconduct.
Body camera footage showed Newberg chasing and grabbing a bystander who had criticized him for roughly handling another man during a routine warrant check.
Newberg was suspended without pay, which indicates that his pay would have been higher if he had continued working through June 30, when the fiscal year ended. Newberg’s paycheck was first noted on Twitter last night by journalist @xoamelia.
Baltimore Brew’s series on BPD overtime:
Part 1 – “House cats” and “g-days”: A look at the overtime culture at the Baltimore Police Department (2/20/18)
Part 2 – Lieutenants and sergeants lead the overtime parade (2/20/18)
Part 3 – Some of the kings and queens of police overtime in Baltimore (2/21/18)
• Baltimore Police overtime data – two spreadsheets (2/23/18)
• How to fix overtime in Baltimore: some ideas (4/6/18)
Another overtime-enriched officer was William Harris Jr., a SWAT team lieutenant, who was the city’ third highest-paid employee at $249,357, of which $141,993 came from overtime.
A report on police overtime by the city finance department noted that the SWAT team “is known to begin its work day at the gym exercising and then continue its day with unstructured and self-initiated practice exercises.”
Other top earners disclosed in the FY19 Open Baltimore pay database were profiled in a three-part Brew series, “Overtime Abuse at the BPD,” published last year. Among them:
• Raifu T. Makanjuola collected $209,385 this year, of which $116,970 (or 56%) was from overtime. The Brew series noted that, between 2012 and 2017, the Eastern District officer earned more than anyone else in city government – $1,057,094 – thanks to more than $600,000 in accumulated overtime.
• Kimberly Swinton collected $221,520 this year, of which $114,156 (52%) was from overtime. The sergeant is married to Maj. Dwayne Swinton, commanding officer of the Southwestern District. Between 2012 and 2017, the couple earned more than $1.7 million from police work.
• Clarence Grear earned $225,616 this year, of which $131,622 (58%) was from overtime. Grear has been on the force since 1996. In 2004, then State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy dropped more than 100 court cases associated with Grear after he was accused of perjury. The officer was acquitted and has since survived other internal investigations.
• Julie A. Pitocchelli earned $198,832 this year before she was suspended on June 12 for “time and attendance issues.” Last assigned to the criminal investigation division, Pitocchelli has been one of the most persistent overtime users on the force. The Brew found that, between 2012 and 2017, she collected $546,569 in overtime.
Police Command Salaries
Unlike officers, sergeants and lieutenants, who are covered by a Fraternal Order of Police contract and are eligible for overtime, top-ranked commanders are at-will salaried employees.
Police Commissioner Michael S. Harrison was hired last February under a five-contract at $275,000 a year. He had received a little over $100,000 by the end of FY19.
His top aide, Deputy Commissioner Michael G. Sullivan, was hired in June at $195,000 a year. A second deputy commissioner, Daniel P. Murphy, also has a $195,000-a-year salary.
Top Paid City Officials
Five officials (outside members of the Police Department) were paid over $200,000 in FY19, according to the just-released database.
With the exception of Anthony Smith (see below), these officials are salaried administrators who do not qualify for overtime pay. The figures below reflect their salary and some incidental income:
• Frank A. Johnson, ex-Chief Digital Officer and director of Baltimore City Information & Technology (BCIT) – $251,922. Johnson went on permanent leave last month. This followed the ransomware attack in May that left much of Baltimore government immobilized. Johnson was criticized for not being prepared for the attack and for poorly executing the city’s recovery.
• Anthony R. Smith, deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management – $243,747. Smith retired from the fire department earlier this year and was given a special $105,000 contract by the Board of Estimates to continue as MOEM deputy.
• Marilyn J. Mosby, Baltimore State’s Attorney – $238,772.
• Henry J. Raymond, Director of Finance – $216,595.
• Michael Braverman, Commissioner of Housing and Community Development – $201,869.
• Niles R. Ford, Fire Chief, gets a yearly salary of $210,000, but only took home $200,183 in FY19.
Top Pay for Mayor’s Staff
Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young is currently salaried at $184,832.
The salaries for his staff:
• Kimberly Morton, chief of staff (formerly deputy director of Public Works) – $184,570.
• Peter A. Hammen – deputy chief of staff for human services (resigned on August 30, 2019) – $184,063.
• Sheryl Goldstein, deputy chief of staff for operations – $182,000.
• Tisha Edwards, director of Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success – $175,000.
• Carolyn D. Mozell, deputy chief of staff for neighborhood and economic development – $175,000.
• Geraldine Byrd, deputy chief of staff for administration – $165,000.
• Tonya Miller, senior director of public affairs whose travel expenses were recently reviewed by OIG – $151,470.
• Lester Davis, chief of communications and government relations – $150,000.
Overall List of 30 Highest Paid City Employees
In descending order, taken directly from the “Open Baltimore” database: