In response to an article about the salaries of city employees published in the New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard penned the following OpEd piece, which he distributed to local media outlets. We are pleased to publish it.  ~Publius

A recent Union Leader article, entitled: Manchester city salaries list draws mixed reactions, reports that the reaction to our salaries was “mixed.”  I venture to say that the reaction is “mixed” because the story fails to articulate sufficiently the truth behind the salaries, and what those dollar amounts represent.  Admittedly, the story is accurate  when it states:

According to the data, the average Manchester police officer made $81,179 in 2016. The average police sergeant made $105,028. Lieutenants averaged $130,095, while captains were paid $133,777.

However, although accurate, it is grossly misleading absent any explanation or breakdown of what is behind those numbers.  In light of the “mixed” reaction, I seek to better inform the public than what the Union Leader was willing to do in its report.

Below are the Union leader reported numbers with overtime, court time and (non-taxpayer funded) details included with comparison to the actual salary averages:

                   Union Leader Report       Actual Salary Average

Police Officer:         $81,179.00            $63,582.97

Police Sergeant:     $105,028.00          $87,655.53

Police Lieutenant:  $130,095.00          $103,900.62

Police Captain:        $133,777.00           $117,468.00

There are many factors that contribute to the added dollars to an officer’s salary. Chief among them are court time, extra mandatory shifts (due to vacancies, sick time or vacations), call outs for critical events, and the additional officers I put on the streets this past year, doing so during times the predictive analytics suggested would be the most advantageous to either prevent crime or deal with the possibility of crime.  This strategy was supported by the Mayor and Aldermen, and I believe crucial to driving down the crime rate in the city.  It goes without saying, the more overtime that is available, for whatever the reason, the greater the salaries will be.  It’s also important to note that when it comes to court overtime, being ordered to fill a vacant position of a shift or critical incident calls outs, that overtime is mandatory, in which the officers do not have the option of refusing the overtime.  This is a very important distinction that should be included in the discussion as opposed to arbitrarily posting salaries and waiting for the hue and cry from the citizenry.

Overtime Breakdown

Grand Total: $2,312,393.93

74.42% was budgeted

25.58% was from Federal Grants/Reimbursements

35.76% Mandatory Fill Overtime (officer ordered to work)

19.36% Court Overtime (officers subpoenaed to court and must appear)

11.25% Drugs & Guns operations and initiatives

10.97% Mandatory Training

10.06% Additional Streets Patrols

5.47% Critical Incident Call Outs

3.99% Task Forces (dealing with guns, drugs, violent crime)

2.61% Highway safety initiatives

0.52% City Events

Officer salaries also include extra details, which I did not address in this press release because details are not funded by taxpayers, but by the contractors that hire the details.  The frequent complaint about details is that although they do not effect the taxpayer, the fee of a detail is passed on to the consumer, but that is no different than news organizations who pay for advertisement passing that onto to it’s consumers.  It’s what businesses do.

I can only hope that this press release helps explain the truth behind our salaries.  More importantly, I hope to remind our community that Manchester Police Officers are honorable, dedicated Americans, who contribute to the greater good while protecting and serving with great pride.  Manchester’s Finest, as I refer to them, are willing, at every level to give their lives to the betterment of our society, and they are willing to do so at the expense of depriving their own families of their love and nurturing by their absence should they fall in the line of duty.

Chief Nick Willard 

Publisher’s note:  Click here for our no holds barred interview with Willard on the subject.