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Culver City police union criticizes 2 UCLA professors’ salaries

The Culver City Police Officers Association criticized two UCLA professors’ salaries because of their advocacy for defunding the police. (Ashley Kenney/Assistant Photo editor)

By Genesis Qu

Oct. 12, 2020 10:12 p.m.

The Culver City police union criticized two UCLA professors for their advocacy in favor of defunding the police in an online post Sept. 30.

The Culver City Police Officers Association, the union that represents Culver City Police Department officers, criticized law professor Noah Zatz and history professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez in a Sept. 30 Facebook post by posting their photos and salary compensation at UCLA. The association said in a press release linked on the Facebook post that it was responding to attacks by community activists’ calls to defund the police department.

UCLA Professors and Culver City Police Department “Defunders” Noah Zatz and Kelly Lytle Hernandez seem to have a lot to…

Posted by Culver City Police Officer’s Association on Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The CCPOA press release said that Zatz used his position as a law professor to compile an “inaccurate” report to sway public opinion. It added the criticism of the CCPD officers’ pay was hypocritical because the two professors receive an annual salary of more than $350,000 each. The CCPOA did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The CCPOA’s opinions do not represent the CCPD, said Manny Cid, acting CCPD police chief, in an Oct. 2 statement.

Hernandez said she believes that she became the target of the CCPOA after a research organization that she leads, called Million Dollar Hoods, released a report documenting racial disparity in arrests made by CCPD. Zatz said he has debated the future of public safety and the role of the police at Culver City in city council meetings.

The police association was referring to a September analysis released by the Criminal Justice Program at the UCLA School of Law, Zatz said.

The report analyzed the CCPD budget and noted that CCPD officers received more money from “other pay” than officers at LAPD, officers at the LA County Sheriff’s Department and other Culver City employees.

The CCPD officers’ base salaries are tied to the salaries of the LAPD and the LA County Sheriff’s Department because of a 1984 salary ordinance. However, CCPD officers make more than their counterparts at LAPD and LASD because of the “other pay,” which are payments excluding regular pay, overtime pay and benefits, the report added.

The analysis noted that if CCPD reduced the amount of “other pay” to the level of other LA police departments, it would save $4.8 million per year and could double the budget for housing and homeless programs.

CCPOA said in the press release that competitive salaries attract a highly educated and culturally diverse workforce. It added that the total compensation for police officers who have served for 15 years and sergeants is lower than the salary of the police departments in Torrance, Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach.

The press release noted that Zatz’s salary was more than $350,000 and included around $50,000 in other pay, according to Transparent California, a website that shows public employees’ salaries. Hernandez’s salary was more than $417,000 and included around $100,000 in other pay, it added.

“Mr. Zatz’s suggestion that CCPD employees are overpaid, especially due to the category of ‘other pay’, is extremely hypocritical when compared to the pay of employees from the University of California (UC) system where he works,” the press release read.

However, Zatz said he did not directly contribute to the report through research and analysis and added that the report was compiled by his colleagues in the Criminal Justice Program.

Zatz brought the potential issue of “other pay” at CCPD to the attention of CJP, said the program’s directors Maximo Langer and Alicia Virani in an emailed statement. CJP issued Public Records Act requests to law enforcement agencies in LA and drafted the report independent of Zatz, the statement read.

Police unions play a disturbing role in responding to public criticism, Zatz said. He added that CCPOA has engaged in tactics of intimidation and bullying and is adamantly opposed to conversations about the need for change.

CCPOA mistook legitimate criticism on the police department’s policy as individual attacks, Hernandez said.

“I, as an individual, certainly have in no way and in no moment, publicly criticized another individual at the Culver City Police Department, or berated one or led one to feel unsafe,” Hernandez said.

However, CCPOA has done exactly that, she added.

The police department respects the First Amendment rights of individuals and officer unions, Cid said in the statement. He added that members of the union are held accountable for providing an equal public safety service, regardless of their opinion.

“It is disheartening to witness members, or groups, of our community make personal attacks on each other, including police labor groups toward community members and community members toward police professionals,” Cid said in the statement.

Zatz said people often respond to systemic change by attempting to personalize it. However, the question is not about the virtue of individual officers but about the priority of the city, he added.

The police chief’s announcement also echoed the rhetoric of the police union by acknowledging that police officers were personally attacked, Zatz said.

Hernandez and Zatz said they have not received any personal threats.

Members of the union are police officers in the department, Zatz said. And because of the amount of discretion officers have while on duty, their opinion cannot be fully separated from the judgment they exercise in their professional role as police officers, he added.

CCPD spokesperson Andrew Bellante declined to comment and referred The Bruin to Cid’s Oct. 2 statement.

Hernandez said this incident will continue to inspire their advocacy efforts against the police system, which she said is built on violence and bullying.

“I certainly feel motivated to make sure we continue to (make) clear what policing is in our country, and then dismantling it and building new systems that are predicated upon love and health and wellbeing, especially for the most vulnerable community members,” Hernandez said.

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Genesis Qu | Assistant News editor
Qu is the 2020-2021 Assistant News editor for the Campus Politics beat. He was previously a reporter for the National News and Higher Education beat. Qu is a third-year statistics and political science student at UCLA.
Qu is the 2020-2021 Assistant News editor for the Campus Politics beat. He was previously a reporter for the National News and Higher Education beat. Qu is a third-year statistics and political science student at UCLA.
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