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D.C. cop’s overtime aids Lanier household income

Couple made $400K in 2011

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2012

As Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier renegotiated her $253,000-a-year salary this week as the nation's fourth highest paid police administrator, one argument unavailable to her was that she is hurting for money.

Figures released by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer show that Chief Lanier and her boyfriend, Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. James M. Schaefer, with whom she shares a "principal residence" in Maryland, received more than $400,000 in salary and "employer paid benefits" in 2011.

Despite Chief Lanier's promise to cut police overtime pay, more than $34,000 of the couple's income came from Sgt. Schaefer's overtime pay for just the first six months of the year, according to the figures.

On Wednesday, Chief Lanier and the District announced an agreement on her new contract, which shows no salary increase, possibly avoiding a showdown with the D.C. Council, which recently enacted a law that purported to cap executive salaries such as hers.

But previously unexamined is Sgt. Schaefer's compensation, which has risen significantly under her command.

The figures were disclosed in response to Freedom of Information Act requests by The Washington Times last year. The first disclosure provided a breakdown of Sgt. Schaefer's salary and benefits history from 2005 through June 2011. At that time, the figures showed more than $83,000 in regular, overtime and longevity pay, along with $5,000 in employer-paid benefits for the first six months of 2011.

A second disclosure provided a similar breakdown from 2000 to the beginning of August 2011, and showed more than $101,000 in regular, overtime and longevity pay through the first seven months of 2011, along with more than $50,000 in employer-paid benefits — an increase of more than $45,000 in such benefits in just one month.

Since that time, city officials have declined to update those figures for the remainder of 2011 or explain the nature of — or the sharp increase in — Sgt. Schaefer's employer-paid benefits. Instead, the financial officer's office referred The Times to the 2011 W-2 report for all D.C. employees, which shows Sgt. Schaefer's "taxable wages" for 2011 as $122,754.

'Base salary'

The Metropolitan Police Department, in response to questions this week about Sgt. Schaefer's compensation, said in an email that his "base salary" is $92,387 and he made $38,088 in overtime last year. Spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump declined to explain the discrepancies with the financial office's figures, or how Sgt. Schaefer earned $34,000 in overtime in the first six months of 2011 and $4,000 thereafter.

Other public disclosures, such as a report to the D.C. Council last year, suggest that Sgt. Schaefer maxed out for his pay grade in 2010 at an annual salary of roughly $106,000 — before overtime or employer-paid benefits.

Sgt. Schaefer, a 33-year department veteran, began his career as a patrol officer and served for eight years in the department's Traffic Enforcement Branch before joining the Motor Carrier Safety Unit in 1996, a small unit he now supervises that enforces local and federal laws pertaining to commercial vehicles. According to the department, much of the unit's overtime pay is funded through federal grants.

Yet Sgt. Schaefer's rise within the department, at least salarywise, appears to coincide with the timing of his relationship with Chief Lanier during her ascension. According to the chief financial officer's figures, Sgt. Schaefer was earning $89,000 per year in 2000, placing him in the midrange of salaries for officers with 20 or more years on the job.

Though it is unclear when the couple began their relationship, in 2002, when Sgt. Schaefer was earning close to $95,000 per year, he and Chief Lanier — then commander of the Special Operations Division, which oversees the motor safety unit — purchased a 3,200-square-foot home on 8.7 acres in Anne Arundel County for $600,000, Maryland property records show.

The department denies that the couple share a household, and because D.C. law requires executives to reside in the city, Chief Lanier bought a $471,000 two-story row house in Fort Lincoln in 2007, just after she signed her first contract with the city.

But Maryland tax records list the couple's Anne Arundel property as a principal residence. A 2007 Los Angeles Times profile said she begins her day "with a 45-minute routine in her home gym and then walks her five Australian shepherds."

It is unclear whether that regimen still holds, or whether Chief Lanier's urban row house accommodates the home gym and the five shepherds.

In media interviews, Chief Lanier has insisted that she spends little time at the couple's Maryland home, and has maintained that Sgt. Schaefer never reported directly to her.

Neither Chief Lanier nor Sgt. Schaefer returned calls for comment.

Overtime pay

By 2004, Sgt. Schaefer's total earnings had increased to $104,000 per year, according to the chief financial officer's figures, and increased by an additional 50 percent over the next two years to more than $150,000 in 2006, the year Chief Lanier was tapped to lead the department's Office of Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism, also in his chain of command.

Chief Lanier was elevated to her current position in 2007. Although Sgt. Schaefer's reported total earnings dipped that year to $130,000, they rose back up to more than $151,000 in 2010, largely because of his overtime pay.

Sgt. Schaefer earned more than $94,000 in overtime pay from 2008 through 2010 before booking another $34,000 during the first six months of 2011.

Ms. Crump said in an email that Sgt. Schaefer's unit members handle a variety of specialized missions, and as such "are frequently required or mandated to work beyond their tour of duty to ensure that their mission is completed."

In 2011, Sgt. Schaefer's compensation through July, according to the chief financial officer's figures, involved a "total cost to employer" of $152,168, with more than $50,000 of that identified as employer-paid benefits.

Chief Lanier's starting salary as police chief in 2007 was $175,000. It has increased more than 40 percent since then.

By contrast, the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents 3,500 Metropolitan Police Department officers, including Sgt. Schaefer, said its members have not had a raise since October 2007, and have not had a new collective bargaining agreement since 2008.

According to a lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court on Monday, Chief Lanier has used collective bargaining authority given to her in her 2007 contract, which the Fraternal Order of Police argues expired in April, to interfere in those negotiations.

The FOP has asked a judge to declare Chief Lanier in violation of D.C. law and a 2005 Mayor's Order that reserves compensation-related decisions to the Mayor and his director of the Office of Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining. The MPD said late Wednesday that her new contract does not contain the clause that had authorized her involvement in collective bargaining.

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