There's no question the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department provides a valuable public service with officers putting their lives on the line to protect us all. And they deserve to be fairly compensated.
But how much is too much when it comes to public employee perks that you pay for?
Public employee salaries and benefits cost taxpayers a ton. But what some people get after they retire is being called enormous, excessive and almost unheard of for most working Nevadans.
"The figures were staggering. I mean, they're huge," said Nevada Policy Research Institute's Robert Fellner.
Case in point? Retired Metro Lieutenant Dennis Flynn who cashed in on unused leave for a $268,076 payout.
That boosts his pay package to more than half a million dollars, making him Nevada's second highest compensated government worker.
Who's first? Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President Rossi Ralenkotter who came in at more than $550 thousand in 2015.
As for Dennis Flynn, the unused leave payout comes on top of a high six-figure pension.
"That's quadruple what the average Nevadan makes working full time," said Fellner. "It's pretty extreme."
On their website Transparent Nevada, conservative think tank Nevada Policy Research Institute publishes public salary information.
And it's not just cops who are cashing in.
"We saw it in North Las Vegas, Clark County."
NPRI"s Robert Fellner says some county attorneys and administrative staffers are pulling in more than $200,000 in unused sick leave alone.
"So this was a perk that was pretty shocking and pretty hard to justify."
Metro Chief Financial Officer Rich Hoggan says under the collective bargaining agreement with the police unions, they're obligated to pay for those perks.
He says there's now a cap in place on unused leave but the payouts can still be sizeable.
And there are 125 remaining employees like Dennis Flynn who were hired before the cap took effect.
Hoggan says Metro they wouldn't agree to something like that now and would like to see reform, but it has to be negotiated. They can't arbitrarily initiate that kind of change.
Contract negotiations with the police managers' union are underway right now, and as of this year, they're open to the public. But Hoggan says they're currently at an impasse over a few things, including cashing in on unused leave.
"If taxpayers are struggling and making much less," said Fellner, "I think there should be a check to say at a certain level it becomes excessive and unfair."
Las Vegas Police Protective Association Executive Director Mark Chaparian says most rank and file Metro officers don't have what was available to "old-timers" like Dennis Flynn. He says cashing in on unused leave actually saves taxpayers money.
"As ironic as a giant cash-out sounds, it's actually a discounted hourly rate at the end, as opposed to a full hourly rate if it's used before the employee retires," Chaparian said.
Retired police officers make up three of the top five highest paid government workers in the state.
- Retired Metro Deputy Chief Albert Salinas, whose $305,753 unused leave payout boosted his total compensation to:$456,096
- Clark County Manager Donald Burnette, who collected: $436,469
- Retired North Las Vegas Police Chief Joseph Chronister, whose $269,420 unused leave payout boosted his total compensation to: $432,006
Find Darcy Spears on Facebook to share whether you get these kind of perks in your job and how you feel about how your tax dollars are being spent.