Loose Lips

Is Police Chief Cathy Lanier Worth $11 Million?

WTOP's Mark Segraves is first with the not-very-surprising news that the Gray administration has signed Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier to a new five-year deal. Lanier consistently gets high marks in public opinion polls, so it's no surprise that the mayor wouldn't want to part with the Fenty administration's most popular holdover.

LL suspects that much of the attention of Lanier's new contract will focus on her salary of $253,000 a year. That's one of the biggest in city government and a humongous increase from the $175,000 Lanier was making when she first got the gig in 2007.

But the real story is how much Lanier will be making once she stops working for District government, because the chief's entire retirement package could easily wind up being in the eight figures.

The math: Lanier's old contract put her pension payments at a minimum of 71.5 percent of her final salary. Segraves reports that in 2015, Lanier's salary will get a 5 percent bump to her $253,000-a-year salary. For argument's sake, let's say Lanier makes it to 2015 and gets the pay bump before retiring.

That would put her final salary at $265,650. Her pension would then be somewhere around $190,000 a year, plus a cost-of-living increase. FOP police union boss Kris Baumann (an outspoken critic of Lanier) estimates that the cost of living increases are generally about 2 percent.

Lanier was born in 1967, and probably has many years of good health ahead of her. It's entirely possible that she draws a pension for 40 years or more after she retires. How much might that cost? In 40 years, thanks to the magic of compound interest, Lanier's yearly pension would be more than $400,000. Add it all up, and 40 years of pension payments would total more than $11 million.

By contrast, Baumann says the average pension for the rank-and-file cop who retires after 25 years is about 62 percent of their final salary and shakes out to about $55,000 a year. In 40 years, that pension would be worth about $120,000 a year, and the 40-year total would be about $3.3 million.

That's a pretty big difference, no? And if you put Lanier's retirement package up against the average non-public employee's IRA, well, let's just not go there.

Lanier's contract Average MPD contract
Pension 1st year of retirement $190,000 $55,000
Pension in year 10 $227,068 $65,730
Pension in year 20 $276,794 $80,124
Pension in year 30 $337,410 $97,671
Pension in year 40 $411,302 $119,061

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • NE John

    no, not worth it, but at least she is not stealing our money and raising our taxes willy nilly

  • Louis

    She gets a cost of living increase every year but the officers and detectives that do all the heavy lifting get nothing? How is that fair?

  • tired

    Louis I am with you on that. Mayor Gray is a damn joke he fell for this hook , line and sinker. Now I know how corrupt politicans are. She does not deserve this money and she didn't do a damn thing to earn it.(the rank and file are the real workers) Gray you are a 1 term mayor just like your predessor.

  • StrangeFruit

    Crime is down in DC not due to Chief Lanier, but because Ward 9 (PG County) is now the home of DC's criminal element.

    With mid to high income residents now residing in neighborhoods that were once infested with drugs, such Columbia Heights, crime is almost non-existent.

    The residents of DC deserve $11 million in the form of a tax-break, not Lanier, who is just lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

    If she was the police chief in the 80s, when DC was the murder capital of the US, she would have gotten the same result as the other chiefs--an ineffective rating at reducing crime in DC.

  • RealDC

    Wow. That is incredible! To pay a police chief that kind of money and with a retirement package of that magnitude is outrageous. DC is run by IDIOTS!! My God how will the city being able to afford the pensions for these pigs. Take a look at Allen Lew's deal, another outrageous compensation package.

    Another example of sorry leadership, stop doing what you think is popular and do what is best for DC. Paying a police chief that kind of money is not what is "best" for the city. Gray is a 70 year old rookie that has lost his way.

  • finest

    HELL NO!!!!

  • Renegade 1

    Ok when did Lying Lanier reach a 90% approval rating? I think that number is inflated like her homicide closure rate. Until I actually see the surveys that were handed out polling her performance, I don't believe nothing that says she's doing such a great job.

    I can't believe we have to put up with her for another 5 years, 5 more years of lies & retaliation!

  • gitchafaxstr8

    @#5: Without weighing in one way or another about why the Chief got this deal, it's ridiculous to say the Mayor did it because it was popular. The commenters on this blog would have us believe the Mayor considers what is popular as opposed to whatever paremeters he uses to determine who gets what golden parachute. There is no popularity for Vince Gray from most of the kool-aid serving media in Washington DC.

    That being said however, I'd be interested in seeing "the math" on quite a few others in politics. LL & MM, why not spread the joy around?

  • Inkbun

    I haven't seen this new contract, but Lanier's pension was set by the Council in 2008. It doesn't sound as though it was changed with the latest action.

  • City Pete

    In 2029, two great things will happen. First and foremost, humanity will defeat Skynet in a final, epic battle. Almost as important, MPD rank and file will finally get a raise. The retro pay alone will be enough to retire on.

  • InTheMixx

    Sanctioned robbery.

  • I. J.

    Strange Fruit

    Crime is down due to organizatins that mentor youth' and citizens that organize and fight crime in their crime infested communities. You can also thank the developeers that that push poor people of color out of the city. Lainer played a small role in reducing crime. She is not a truthful woman and she hides her racism.

  • Ben

    Lanier's position is more political than anything else. We all know that the higher a person goes up in this society, the more corrupt situations become. And that includes mentors and community organizations. Crime is not down, a lot of crimes are not reported.

  • DC Antics

    She is not worth $11 million but in all fairness, calculate the boyfriend's earnings too because it is all for the same household. I guess it pays to protect corrupt secrets of those you work for after all.

  • IH8DC

    253K a year? That's about what Catania gets from M.C Dean to steer contracts their way; is slightly more than Jack Evans gets from his law firm and separate health care company to ensure DC writes laws favorable to those entities; is about 100K short of what Harry "Audi" Thomas stole from kids; 253K is about the same amount the Fully Loaded sent over to his pop and brother...shall I continue?

  • Typical DC BS

    We have morons for councilmembers and idiots for citizens. How many DC government workers have pensions? I would retire TOMORROW if I could get 71% of my salary as a pension FOR LIFE.

    Maybe the City Paper needs to take a look at ALL of the DC government pension terms and compare that to the private sector. My "pension" disappeared in 1995 and I have been funding my retirement 100% out of my pocket thru 401k contributions, with my employer kicking in 3% of my salary as a "match", at best.

    When government employees, who always whine about their "low" salaries, make almost as much as I do and have tremendously better pensions that they contribute very little towards, I have a big problem paying for that.

  • Terry Miller

    Most D.C. workers don't get that kind of pension. The police officers, firefighters and teachers, have their own retirement systems, which are fairly generous. The rank and file D.C. worker have to rely on social security, a very small lump sum set aside by the government, and what ever money they put away for themselves. It is the worse in the region. Low wage earners will suffer the most. No one seems to care about this, and I don't know why.

  • IH8DC

    Police retirements? Shhhhh...nothing to see here. Move along. The less you know, the better off you are. Move along, nothing to see here.


  • Grax

    That seems like an awful lot of money - I could understand it if she did something really noteworthy, like being a CEO who nearly drove the world economy off a cliff and wiped out her shareholders in the process, but a cop? C'mon...

    Speaking of Lanier, did she ever publicly apologize for her ignorant, slanderous comments made the day after an incident near the DC9? Usually, when you drag people's names through the mud, deprive them of their livelihood, force one of them out of his business, and are eventually proven wrong, you at least have to say "Oops". Not if you are a cop, apparently...

  • Flabbergasted

    You folks are always jealous of management. Tell you what. Go form a company with no managers and no CEO. See how much gets done. What a bunch of whiners. If the crime stats go way back up, then she needs to go. If not, then pay the woman. The rank and file by themselves are not capable of doing the job. They need leadership with a vision, and an executive who is just as capable of kicking butts off the force as she is in rewarding the good ones.

  • Rhplder

    She is a strong women an beautiful she worth that an more

  • http://yahoo Gym

    I noticed she really rose through the ranks fast. Must be quite a girl! Married to a schitthead, right?

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  • DCBornRaised

    Lanier can get a raise, but my husband who's worked as a DC officer for 20+ years, hasn't had an increase in years - not even cost of living. Unfortunately he doesn't have the age to retire, but when he does he's out! Now officers who can leave will be ready to go, but Lanier can block retirements if too many want to go and it jeopardizes manpower. They can't work overtime unless they are assigned to a specialized unit, and if you legitimately work a PT job, you must give back a percentage to the department.

    Arbitrator said DC officers do the same work as local jurisdictions, but as my husband said, "I don't see the others working the Inauguration, the demonstrations, and All Hands on Deck."

    Many of the veteran cops are very demoralized right about now.

  • pat

    Well Worth It!