William F. Buckley
There is great moaning in New York City because Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced his intention to reduce the police department budget by 3 percent. Reducing the police force is generally thought, and understandably so, to be the equivalent of reducing the blood supply: quite simply, something one does not do.

This reaction is especially keen among those who remember the long years in New York City when crime was king. Crime is hardly yesterday's problem, but the reduction of crime is nationwide, for reasons left to sociologists. But it is unrealistic and wrong to fail to acknowledge the role of police, and the tougher penalties for criminals. A thief in jail menaces nobody's property.

But the implied parallel -- more police, less crime -- isn't rigorous. If 1,000 police bring about crime reduction to 1,000 crimes, it does not follow that 2,000 police would mean 500 crimes. That is a paralogism. An attempt to pursue it would have you saying 3,000 police equal 250 crimes, 4,000 equal 125 crimes, 5,000 equal 62.5 crimes. You run out of criminals and police academies, and, incidentally, out of money.

I stare at a report undertaken by the Stamford Advocate in Stamford, Conn., which lists the 100 highest-paid city servants. One learns that the mayor of Stamford, Daniel Malloy, comes in at No. 83. His pay is $107,000 (I will round out the last three digits). For whatever reason, he took home a little more than his base pay, grossing $110,000. Without digging out mayors' salaries in other cities of equivalent size and resources, one's reaction is: That's about what to expect.

The city employee at the bottom of the list of the top 100 is a "police officer." But mark this. His salary was $59,000, but he took home $107,000. Roughly speaking, twice his salary.

Move, now, to the top-earning city servant. He is the superintendent of schools. His salary was $251,000; his gross, $244,000. It isn't explained why he lost $7,000. Maybe an illiterate student was found and laid at his door.

But now it becomes interesting. The second-highest-paid worker is described simply, "Police captain." His salary was $85,000. But wait. He grossed $207,000. That's overtime or supplementary pay of $122,000. That means the police captain earned in extra pay a sum greater than the base pay of the mayor of Stamford.

So it goes. The No. 3 earner is "Police sergeant" -- sergeant, not admiral, or general. Base pay is $65,000; take-home pay, $169,000. Two and a half times base pay.


William F. Buckley

William F. Buckley, Jr. is editor-at-large of National Review, the prolific author of Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography.

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