Thanks to overtime, nearly three-fourths of Minneapolis cops made six-figure incomes last year

This week the police chief implemented a policy to rein in excessive overtime

By: - May 26, 2022 6:00 am

A Minneapolis police SWAT team exits a police van at Hennepin Ave and 31st Street in the early morning hours of April 12, 2021, during reports of looting following the killing of Daunte Wright hours earlier. Photo by Chad Davis.

Minneapolis Police Sgt. Stephen McBride was paid nearly $376,000 last year — more than three times his regular salary of $110,240.

McBride was the highest paid Minneapolis Police Department employee last year, among 10 other sergeants, lieutenants and officers who made more than former Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who earned about $204,000, according to payroll data the Reformer received through a public records request. McBride could not be reached for comment.

Thirteen MPD employees made more than $200,000 last year; 89 made more than $150,000; and 466 made more than $100,000. 

About 72% of MPD cops made six figures. Minneapolis teachers with just a bachelor’s degree, by comparison, were not making more than $75,000 annually before their recent contract negotiation.

MPD is short-staffed and turning to massive overtime to make up the difference. 

The department has been hemorrhaging employees — about 300 officers since George Floyd’s police killing two years ago — and additional cops are on disability leave. 

In response to exploding overtime, Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman issued a new MPD policy on May 10 limiting overtime for the rest of 2022. Officers cannot work all seven days in a week, according to the policy that went into effect Sunday.

Huffman said reining in excessive overtime was on her “list of things to tackle” when she took the job in January, replacing Arradondo after he retired.

Officers need to be healthy and have time to recharge in order to provide good service, she said. The city also plans to provide more mental health services for officers and hire a wellness manager. 

Huffman said she’s aware that some folks volunteer to work a lot of overtime, but the policy change will only affect a small number of officers. 

“But it’s important for us as an organization to emphasize that we want our people to take care of ourselves,” she said. 

Overtime budget balloons

MPD overtime has ballooned from $6.4 million in 2019 to $12.8 million last year, about half of which was attributed to the staffing shortage.

The city spent $10.3 million on overtime in 2020. After Floyd’s murder, the city erupted into protests and riots, people began suing the city over officers’ conduct during those protests, and officers began leaving the force in droves.

Last year, Arradondo said the city had lost the equivalent of an entire precinct worth of officers. To compensate for the shortage, he eliminated foot patrols, three of five community response teams, a Safe Streets Task Force and gang interdiction team. That left the department with enough staff to do little more than respond to violent crimes and property crimes in progress, he said.

The overtime comes with costs that aren’t just financial. 

Working too many hours can lead to fatigue that can “heighten pre-existing biases, increase complaints and use-of-force incidents, impair driving performance and in general lead to impairment of performance of routine skills,” according to a 2019 MPD audit of off-duty work.

When former police officer Mohamed Noor clocked in for a 10-hour police shift on the night he shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk in south Minneapolis, he had just finished a seven-hour shift moonlighting as a security guard.

Noor had just 90 minutes off before clocking in for the shift that ended Ruszczyk’s life. He was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for manslaughter after his murder conviction was overturned.

No more 74-hour work weeks

The new overtime policy covers all work — including special events, contract work and off-duty work — with some exceptions, such as court standby and on-call work.

Officers can’t work more than 16 consecutive hours or more than 74 hours per week, and must have at least eight consecutive hours of rest every 24 hours. Exceptions can be made for large-scale events or major cases.

Huffman said the new policy will affect a small number of employees because most officers aren’t working 20-hour shifts or seven days in a row or 74 hours per week. 

“I’m concerned about officers in their 20th hour of work,” she said. 

A Minneapolis police officer stands near the scene of a mass shooting that left eight injured and two dead in downtown Minneapolis on May 22, 2021. Photo by Chad Davis.

Huffman said most overtime is voluntary, although some major crimes or civil unrest can require officers to work overtime.

“Make no mistake, we need to hire more good officers who are interested in providing effective, compassionate constitutional police service. That’s the answer to many of the police issues we have.” 

Mayor Jacob Frey’s office released a statement saying he supports her policy to ensure officers maintain physical and emotional well-being as the city continues to try to recruit “community-minded officers” to fully staff the department.

Minneapolis police are well paid compared to other departments

Non-supervisory Minneapolis police officers had the third highest police starting wage in the state, according to a 2019 review by the Office of the Legislative Auditor. Under the latest police union contract, Minneapolis police officer salaries start around $73,000 a year and top out at over $90,000 annually, not counting overtime and other extra pay.

MPD sergeants start at nearly $92,000 per year, and lieutenants at $106,000 per year.

Among the officers who made at least $100,000 last year were:

  • Officer Justin Stetson made nearly $108,000. He kicked and punched Jaleel Stallings in the head and neck after Stallings fired back on Stetson’s SWAT team after it struck him with “less lethal” plastic projectiles without warning as he stood in a parking lot.
  • Sgt. Andrew Bittell, who can be heard on body camera footage ordering a SWAT unit to “f*** up” any civilians they saw out past curfew, made more than $140,000 last year.
  • Officer Kristopher Dauble made more than $125,000 last year. He was another member of the SWAT team who laughed and fist-bumped Stetson after he yelled “gotcha!” after hitting a group of protesters with plastic projectiles after they retreated, days after Floyd’s murder. 
  • Sherral Schmidt, president of the police union, made more than $125,000 last year.

This story was updated at 9:41 a.m. to correct a portion about the new MPD policy regarding how much time officers should take off per week. 

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.