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One Local Cop Earned $442,000: How Police Rob Taxpayers Blind in Pay, But Refuse to Reform

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Precisely how much dough can be had as a badge-and-gun-wielding government enforcer of laws can best be explained in the head-scratching case of a local school safety cop in New York, who hauled in a stark $442,000 — just under two and a half times that of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $179,000 — as well as by the fact that, across the United States, the aforementioned, now-retired officer wasn’t an exception.

In critiques of American policing, the levels of corruption, boot camp training, hostile workplace atmospheres, militarism, vehement codes of silence and insular issues, veritable impunity from consequence for wrongdoing, and many other topics frequent lists of problems to be dealt with, solved, or reformed out of existence to move forward in progress — but officer pay rarely makes the floor of public debate.

Perhaps it should.

On Wednesday, the Empire Center released its annual What They Make report detailing the salaries of local government workers throughout New York; and — if you thought cops had it rough for the pay — it turns out, police in some areas are laughing all the way to the bank. Note, however, criticism of taxpayer-funded salaries and compensation in no way equates condemnation of that occupation; but analyzing the data may provide reform efforts with a window into the blue line mindset.

Tom Donnelly, the now-retired Ramapo school safety officer with the several hundred thousand-dollar cushion, earned the largest paycheck of any police officer outside New York City — as one of almost 175,000 employees sharing $9.7 billion total paid in salary from taxes for the 12-month year ending on March 31, 2017, reports the Empire Center. Police in the Village of Kings Point — all twenty of them — earned the highest average pay in the entire state, at $220,088; but, none of them came close to New York’s highest paid law enforcement officer, who raked in $640,000 last year working for the NYPD. 

Donnelly certainly manipulated the system within acceptable bounds to ensure the maximum payout for the last year on the job, as anyone approaching retirement would; but it’s imperative to note officers’ pensions are most often based on the income earned their last year on the job — meaning that several hundred thousand dollars paid the last year could help set what he earns in retirement, whether or not it’s actually reflective of career pay.

On average around the nation, an aspiring law enforcement officer could expect an annual income of around $52,305, according to data from Glassdoor, with pay for a lieutenant jumping to about $99,679 per year — though these figures are slightly higher than estimates from indeed.com, which places the former at $46,142, as recently as Tuesday. As of May 2016, however, the Bureau of Labor Statistics places the average pay for ‘Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers’ at $62,760, with a mean hourly rate of $30.17.

Unsurprisingly, given the vast differences in cost of living from coast to coast and everywhere within the borders of the U.S., the State’s enforcers of the law earn substantially contrasting salaries for the ostensive performance of similar duties depending upon location — but geography shouldn’t serve as sufficient grounds to dismiss how much of the nation’s income in tax dollars pays cops.

“Personnel costs are the biggest part of most local government budgets, and thereby the biggest driver behind our high property taxes,” Empire Center Executive Director Tim Hoefer asserted, adding, “This report provides a tool for local officials and taxpayers who want to see how their community stacks up.”

Residents of multiple cities and towns around the country may be shocked to discover their incomes dwarfed in size by those of officers supposedly sworn to protect and serve. Indeed, a report from NJ Advance Media in May found 60 percent of municipal law enforcement officers in New Jersey earned at least $100,000 in annual pay in 2016 — 30 percent higher than that figure in 2009 — as the median salary increased by 16 percent, or $14,400, to a striking $105,106.

What police are actually paid appears to be somewhat a murky question, as yet another report, this one from Cheat Sheet and published today, shows the highest earning cops in the nation hail from California, pulling in a statewide average salary of $93,550, with officers in the San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara region at the pinnacle, with an average of $114,520.

While there certainly exists a flip side to officers earning questionable sums (Mississippi’s police average just $33,350 in annual pay) and a well-but-reasonably-paid intermediate average for officers nationwide, that salaries of even non-specialized cops rival those of more dangerous, specialized, and private occupations — all on the taxpayer’s dime.

Without so much as a toe tip dipped here in the fraught issue of violence and corruption in policing in America, it might especially behoove the taxpaying individuals in communities where law enforcement is more notorious than beneficent to evaluate efficacy and cost. Perhaps pay may be a means to hold police accountable for their transgressions when courts and superiors fail to do so.

What law enforcement officers actually earn could surprise you — and may spark sufficient criticism for reform.

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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