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California police unions blast WalletHub’s ranking of the state as top for police officers

Union leaders say the annual WalletHub survey is “flawed and misleading” and ignores several critical issues faced by officers daily

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By Police1 Staff

LOS ANGELES — Police union leaders across California are disputing a recent WalletHub report that named California as one of the best states for police officers.

The report, described by the unions as “flawed and misleading,” allegedly lacks real insights from the officers themselves and ignores several critical issues faced by them daily.

“Historic low police staffing levels in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose have led to dangerous officer safety situations, slow 911 emergency response times, and mandatory overtime that equates to low officer morale,” said Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. “We don’t see any of these metrics in this ‘study’ but that is the reality law enforcement officers face in California.”

Tracy McCray, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, pointed out that the high cost of living in California, especially housing costs, forces officers to live far from their workstations.

“As of March 2024, the median price of a home in California is $793,600, and in San Francisco, it’s $1,415,000,” said McCray. “In order to find an affordable place to live, our officers, especially new recruits, are forced to live further and further from work, adding hundreds of hours of commute time, added stress, higher travel costs, and causing them to spend much less time with their families.”

The unions argue that the WalletHub study did not include essential factors such as work-life balance, officer wellness and organizational culture, which are crucial for hiring and retaining law enforcement personnel. Marcus Barbour, president of the Santa Clara County Deputy Sheriffs Association, emphasized the impact of chronic staffing shortages on deputies, who are often forced to work overtime.

“Our department’s sworn staffing is down 34%, and if you’re not assessing staffing issues as to whether a location is a good place to work, you are completely missing the target as to what actual sheriff deputies believe,” said Barbour. “This chronic short staffing necessitates our deputies to work forced overtime to minimally staff our patrol and court divisions. Our deputies are tired, they are missing quality time at home with their families, it’s about personal time for them, not the median salary posted on some website’s chart.”

The California police unions urge a reevaluation of such studies to include a more comprehensive analysis of the conditions and sentiments of rank-and-file officers.