What does a career in law enforcement look like in King County?
The Auburn Reporter conducted a comparison of the top 15 highest-paid employees of several King County police departments. This analysis compares the average salaries, average total years of service, the highest-paid employee in each department, and pay differences between each department’s chief of police.
The Auburn Reporter used data from public records for the Auburn Police Department, Renton Police Department, Federal Way Police Department, Bellevue Police Department and Kent Police Department in regard to the year 2022.
The Kent Police Department’s top 15 highest-paid employees held the highest average annual salary of all departments included in the study in 2022 with an average annual salary of $159,163.
Rafael Padilla, Chief of Police of the Kent Police Department, served as the highest-paid employee in 2022, with an annual salary of $206,404, and approximately 27 years of service at the department.
The top 15 highest-paid employees in Kent have each served an average of 21 years at the department.
The second-highest average annual salary of the departments for the top 15 highest-paid employees was the Renton Police Department at $149,793, followed by the Bellevue Police Department at $144,417.
Chief Jon Schuldt served as the highest-paid employee at the Renton Police Department in 2022 with an average annual salary of $200,172 and approximately 27 years of service. Chief of Police Wendell Shirley was the highest paid in Bellevue at $191,490 annual salary and approximately 2 years of service under his belt.
The top 15 highest-paid employees in Renton and Bellevue have each served an average of 25 and 20 years, respectively.
The Federal Way Police Department’s top 15 highest-paid employees held the lowest average annual salary at $133,367.
Federal Way Chief of Police Andy Hwang served as the employee with the highest annual salary in 2022 with a $200,217 annual salary and approximately 26.5 years of service.
The number of average years of service for the top 15 paid employees at Federal Way was approximately 20 years.
Excluding the Auburn Police Department, which provided data for total wages, which factored in overtime pay, bonuses and more, the average annual salary for the top 15 highest-paid employees across King County police departments included in the study was $146,685.
For the Auburn Police Department, the average total wage of the top 15 highest-paid employees in 2022 was $194,643. The Federal Way Police Department was similar, with an average total wage of $194,020.
Sergeant Joshua Matt was the highest-paid employee in 2022 in the Auburn Police Department, with $245,743 in total wages and approximately 16 years of service under his belt.
The average number of years an employee in the top 15 at Auburn Police Department had served was approximately 19 years.
In addition to being the highest paid in his department in 2022, Kent Police Department Chief Padilla also served as the highest-paid police chief of all departments surveyed, with an annual salary of $206,404.
Chiefs Andy Hwang of the Federal Way Police Department and Schuldt of the Renton Police Department held similar salaries with annual salaries of $200,217 and $200,172 respectively.
Though Chief Shirley of the Bellevue Police Department held the highest annual salary in the Bellevue Police Department, he held the lowest annual salary of the chiefs surveyed, with an annual salary of $191,490 in 2022.
In Auburn, Chief of Police Mark Caillier earned $207,767 in total wages in 2022.
Of the top 15 highest-paid employees in the Auburn, Renton and Federal Way police departments, 100% are men.
Five of the top 15 paid employees at the Bellevue Police Department were women, and one of Kent’s 15 is a woman.
Police Major Alycia McKinney served as the highest-paid woman in the Bellevue Police Department with an annual salary of approximately $140,981 in 2022 and approximately seven and a half years of service.
Police Corrections Commander Diane McCuistion held the 12th highest annual salary in 2022 in Kent with an annual salary of $148,776 and approximately 23 years of service.