Mineola, NY: An audit of Nassau County Police Department (NCPD) overtime expenditures revealed systemic issues of under-budgeting, reliance on overly optimistic savings from management initiatives, complex precinct overtime rules and inadequate record keeping technology. These issues have contributed to $96.28 million in higher-than-budgeted overtime costs and $382.27 million in inflated projected savings from attrition from 2009 to 2014, plus $247.58 million in optimistic future estimated savings as a result of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Furthermore, contractual paid leave and minimum staffing requirements appear to combine to increase overtime earnings. At any given time, about 33% of officers are out on paid leave necessitating overtime in order to meet minimum staffing requirements.
“Our police department has done an exemplary job in keeping crime low and protecting our residents,” said Comptroller George Maragos. “However, certain management practices need to be revised in order to increase management accountability with predictable economic results, allowing more resources to be directed toward improving public safety.”
The major audit findings were:
1. Police overtime earnings increased 93.7% from 2009 to 2014, totaling $315.20 million, or 44% over the $218.92 million budgeted. Attrition savings in salaries and fringes during the same period were $382.27 million less than the $524.15 million projected by NCPD.
2. NCPD could not provide evidence of the actual dollar savings that resulted from the overtime reduction initiatives started in 2013, including redeploying officers from the Precinct Special Units that were eliminated, limiting federal task force overtime to what is reimbursed by federal agencies, managing arrest overtime, and expediting the hiring of newly graduated officers.
3. NCPD could not substantiate claims that future savings (over 20 years) from delaying the hiring of 325 police officers under the new CBA would exceed the actual $315.20 million overtime expense from 2009-2014. Auditors estimated that the 20-year future savings from delayed officer hiring would result in savings of only about $67.62 million, $247.58 million (78%) less than the $315.20 million cost of overtime during the prior 6 years.
4. Minimum staffing rules accounted for more than 55% of overtime in 2014. Furthermore, contractual paid time off commonly triggered the need to call in officers on overtime to meet minimum staffing requirements. Auditor testing revealed that at any given time, on average 33% of the officers are on paid leave resulting in reliance on overtime.
5. Police officers did not testify in 57.6% of the cases where the officers were ordered by subpoena to appear in court, costing about $4.5 million annually in overtime from 2011-2013.
6. The NCPD “CHIEFS” Timekeeping System is inadequate for recording and managing police overtime. As a consequence, overtime for different shifts and programs must be recorded on different days, which do not agree with the manual time records.
“I hope that the County Executive and the Police Department accept the audit and its recommendations in a positive spirit, and will implement changes to make the department more efficient and more transparent,” said Comptroller George Maragos.
For a copy of the report please connect with Nassau County Comptroller Maragos online: