More than 500 off-duty police officers and their supporters picketed City Hall on Tuesday to pressure the City Council to increase the officers' salaries and the size of the Police Department.
The officers, who were not in uniform, carried signs reading, "Do you want another Miami?" "Why are we underpaid and overworked?" and "Your safety is our concern."
The officers, some of whom wore T-shirts that read "The Sitting Ducks of Anaheim," have been working without a labor contract for 15 months and have not had a raise since July, 1991.
"This is not something we necessarily wanted to do, but it is something that became necessary for us to do," said Bruce Bottolfson, president of the Anaheim Police Assn., the officers' union. "But we are truly dedicated to providing a decent wage and more cops for the city of Anaheim."
The union is demanding a 10% pay raise over three years and an increase in the number of officers from 353 to 450 over the next five years. The raise would cost the city $2.5 million annually and the additional officers would cost $8.8 million annually, city officials said.
City officials, who have cut $34 million from the city budget in two years and face an $8-million deficit next year, have said they can't afford those costs. The city last year offered the association a 6.5% raise over three years, but it was rejected.
"We are always looking to hire more police officers and if we have any additional money, that's what it will go to," Mayor Tom Daly said.
On the picket line, officers said they don't care where the money comes from as long as they get their raises and more help.
Officer Dave Montgomery, who patrols the Anaheim Hills on the graveyard shift, said most nights he is the only officer for miles. It makes for timid police work, he said.
"You just don't get involved in anything," he said.
Officer Jack Jessen said that last month in the middle of the day he got a call for an armed robbery in progress in the hills. He inquired how far away his backup was and was told 13 miles.
"I don't care if he responded Code 3 (red lights and sirens on), that is still a long way away," Jessen said, adding that he did make the arrest.
Councilman Fred Hunter, a former Anaheim police officer, suggested taking 1% of the city's hotel bed tax being currently stashed away to replace a Convention Center parking structure and using that to fund the raise. That portion of the bed tax would raise about $2.5 million annually.
"There are members of this council and city staff who have talked to Disney and made commitments to using 2% or 3% of the bed tax to improve the infrastructure in that area," Hunter said. "If we are going to give money to Disney, how can we ignore the Police Department?"
Daly said he is not sure if Hunter's figures are correct. He added that he proposed two years ago using bed tax money to hire more police officers, but the council rejected the proposal.
Bottolfson, who is a detective in the hotel-motel crime bureau, said he hopes the council will earmark bed tax money for the Police Department.
The salary range for police officers is $2,804 a month to $4,040 a month, which union officials say ranks 18th among 20 city police departments in the county.