|Los Angeles' police and firefighters take paid injury leave at significantly higher rates than public safety employees elsewhere in California. Why? Is it more strenuous or stressful to work in the city of Los Angeles, compared with L.A. County or Long Beach? Does the city have an older workforce more prone to injury? Or is it just so easy to game the system in L.A. that filing an injury claim has become a routine matter in the police and fire departments?|
A Times investigation on Sunday revealed that 1 in 5 Los Angeles police officers and firefighters took paid injury leave at least once last year, and that not only are the number of leaves going up, but they are getting longer too. While on leave for a work-related injury, a police officer or firefighter earns 100% of his or her salary — but is exempt from federal or state taxes for a year. So it is actually more lucrative not to work than it is to work.
Meanwhile, the fire department has had to spend more money on overtime to ensure that fire stations are fully staffed, and the LAPD, which cut paid overtime, has had fewer cops on the streets. Taxpayers spent $328 million over the last five years on salary, medical care and related expenses for employees on injury leave. Oh, and the state Legislature has repeatedly expanded the kinds of work-related "injuries" covered by the policy. They include Lyme Disease and HIV and stress.