Methuen's police captains could become nation's highest paid officers

Methuen's police captains could be nation's highest paid officers

METHUEN, Mass. - Come Sunday, five Methuen Police captains could become the highest paid police officers in the country.

The captains are: 
-Capt. Kristopher McCarthy, Criminal Investigations & Support Services Bureau
-Capt. Kevin Mahoney, Community Outreach Bureau
-Capt. Gregory Gallant, Support Service Bureau
-Capt. Randy Haggar, Field Operations Bureau
-Capt. James Jajuga, Homeland Security and Intelligence

Each of the captains are set to earn $432,295 a year when their new contract goes into effect July 1, according to an analysis by the city auditor. That pay would make the five captains the highest paid officers in the state.

Content Continues Below

According to public payroll records, Governor Charlie Baker's salary in 2017 was $151,800. Boston Police Commissioner William Evans earned $229,999.90 in 2017. Together, they made $381,799 in 2017, which is less than what one Methuen Police captain stands to earn.

Boston 25 News reviewed the 2017 salaries of the top cops in big cities across the country and found the Methuen Police captains could become the highest paid officers in the nation.

-San Francisco Police Chief William Scott: $365,540
-Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck: $357,631
-Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo: $280,000
-Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson: $260,004
-Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross: $240,000
-New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill: $232,352

The big raises come just weeks after the city laid off 52 teachers and 33 other school employees as a result of a $6.5 million budget shortfall.

"I don't know how anybody could vote for a proposal that would put those kinds of numbers on the table," Governor Charlie Baker said when asked about the big pay raises during a news conference Monday at an unrelated event. "Law enforcement has no bigger supporter than me, but there's simply no precedent for the numbers that the folks in Methuen are being paid."

Former Methuen Mayor Stephen Zanni, who oversaw the negotiations last year, told The Eagle Tribune he didn't know about the financial impact. He asked, "Why wasn't I told?" The town auditor, who crunched the numbers on the massive raises, said he did tell Zanni and two other officials.

Current Methuen Mayor James Jajuga is fighting to change the contract. He hopes to reach an agreement with the union to lower the salaries of captains, lieutenants and sergeants. Jajuga's son is one of the city's police captains who stands to benefit from the pay raises.

Captain Gregory J. Gallant, president of the Methuen Police Superior Officers Association, said the issue might end up in court, even though the contract is binding. He said the union is willing, however, to listen to the city's concerns.

Mayor Jajuga said during a city council meeting he was handed the budget shortfall when he took office in January, but voted in favor of the contract last fall as a city councilor. In fact, the city council voted unanimously to approve the contract.

Governor Baker said his administration is working with state lawmakers to deal with Methuen's budget deficit on Beacon Hill, but that comes with heavy oversight requirements.

"If the state doesn't see a lot of progress on the short-term on this, those oversight requirements will get more aggressive," Governor Baker said.

The city council did approve a temporary one month budget Wednesday night. That gave Mayor Jajuga 39 days to submit a full budget.

Boston 25 News reached out to Mayor Jajuga's chief of staff and the Methuen Public Schools Superintendent Thursday night for comment.