City Desk

Cathy Lanier Gets a Raise

Though it's budget cut time, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier has received a salary bump. According to public records, Washington's best-known cop currently makes $230,743 a year, making her one of the city's top paid administrators.

MPD spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump says her boss' high salary comes as a result of the chief having "received her 5 percent base retention differential that every sworn member of MPD receives upon reaching 20 years of police service." But the math on that only works out if Lanier was being paid $219,000 prior to the raise.

In the past, there's been confusion as to how much, exactly, the chief is paid. When she began her job in 2007, Lanier signed a five-year contract that started her at $175,000, with yearly pay increases of 3 percent, plus bonuses.

In June, MPD told the D.C. Council that Lanier made $212,756 in fiscal year 2010 and would make $219,755 in fiscal year 2011. But in December, during an interview, Lanier confirmed to WTOP that she was actually making $225,813.

According to WTOP's calculations, Lanier's salary should have been $210,349 in 2010: "However, the legislation the D.C. Council passed in 2008 recognized the city had been deducting retirement benefits from Lanier's salary—a fund for which D.C. should have been paying."

In order to compensate for the mixup, the council raised Lanier's pay. She also got a longevity raise in 2010, said WTOP, which put her at $225,000.

MPD didn't respond to a request to clarify whether Lanier was  making $219,000 or $225,000 before this most recent pay increase.

One thing that's clear: At this point, she makes $30,000 more than Mayor Vince Gray,who brings in $200,000 a year.

Part of the reason Lanier has such plum compensation is she negotiated her contract so that, despite her leadership position, she gets the kind of pay increases and benefits average cops get, plus whatever rewards are doled out to her as chief. The contract is up in September, and could allow her to retire on 71.5 percent of her earnings, which would amount to payments of about  $160,000 annually.

It's a sweet set-up, and police union chief Kris Baumann sees a problem with that. "It is nearly impossible to explain to D.C. taxpayers that we now have 400 fewer cops on the street and are continuing to lose police officers at an alarming rate, while, at the same time, the chief has increased her compensation by over 30 percent in the past three years," he says.

It's also a time when there's been a series of city scandals regarding six-figure salaries. Somehow Lanier has managed to stay above the fray. Her approval rating and the grueling nature of her job are probably why. But if the ranks of the department continue to dwindle because of scarce resources, it's possible that won't continue to be the case.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • SEis4ME

    Sure this will barely make a bleep on anyone's radar.

  • Pingback: Chief Lanier gets another raise/FOP members, no raise in four years « D.C. Police Union

  • Letsallgetalong

    When are we going to see an article in which Mr. Bauman say something positive about his own chief?....Cause in seven years I haven't heard anything positive. Learn to give credit when credit is due....and fight when needed....but you are losing credibility. Regardless, of some differences between "you" and the chief you need to start making efforts to "publicly" start working with her. The many years of "chief bashing" has gotten old and stale. What have the "bashing" done for your union members but lose negotiation credibility with members of the city council, mayor, and the chief?....all the folks that you will need to get labor contract for the hard working officer. It's time to start meeting and stop the beating.

  • Typical DC BS

    Unbelievable. She will make a pension of $160,000 PER YEAR? Who does she think she is, a congressman or senator (who get a pension of their FULL salary after only ONE TERM).

    Someone needs to smack our elected representatives over the head multiple times if they approve pensions that pay out these insane amounts of money.

  • Boney

    What blows me away is the commenters that complain about the pay.

    Probably the same people who complain about being underpaid at work when they find out a new hire is paid a higher salary.

    It's all about how you negotiate - it's clear she knew what she wanted and so she gets it. Just like the rest of us would if we had half a brain when it comes time to negotiate salary and benefits before receiving an offer letter.

  • we need money

    The working police need a raise....