Citizens who have dealt with Seattle Police Officer Ron Willis say he is a good, hard-working cop—but public interest groups are wondering how he ended up getting paid more in 2019 than the mayor, the police chief, and even the president. The 58-year-old patrol officer made $414,543 last year, more than any other city employee, the Seattle Times reports. According to police department data, Willis worked an average of 80 hours a week, including seven straight weeks in the summer where he worked between 90 and 123 hours a week. On six days, he was paid for more than 24 hours in a day, though auditors say this could be the result of overtime being logged late or contract provisions that require minimum amounts of overtime. Auditors say Seattle police officers also sometimes receive "standby pay" when they are already on duty.
The police department told the Times that questions it submitted were referred to the Office of Police Accountability to investigate "any policy violations." City Council President M. Lorena González says she is "frustrated and disappointed" by the department's failure to follow auditors' recommendations in 2016 to bring in a system to prevent overtime abuse and duplicate payments. "The reality is that the Police Department effectively has a blank check as it relates to overtime," she tells the Times. "We do set a budget every year, but every year it's known that they are going to blow right through that budget." Willis was one of 374 Seattle Police Department employees to make more than $200,000 last year. (Read more Seattle stories.)