Police Overtime Audit Report

In Audit Findings by Hal Peterson0 Comments

Office of the Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos

Police Overtime Audit Report

April 25, 2016

Executive Summary: 

Purpose: The purpose of our review was to perform a comparative year to year analysis of NCPD overtime, including the precincts and employees with the largest amount of overtime; determine the reasons for overtime and the validity of the reasons; and analyze NCPD cost savings initiatives to manage overtime.

Key Findings

  • Police overtime earnings, net of estimated reimbursements, totaled $315.2 million for the six years, 2009 -2014 which represents an increase of 93.7%; actual overtime earnings were also over budget by 44%. Overtime hours worked during this same period increased by 55.67%. Further, actual overtime earnings exceeded the estimated reduction in salaries and fringe costs due to attrition during this period by $173 million.
  • The NCPD’s claimed future savings from delayed officer hiring were estimated to be 78% less than the $315.20 million overtime cost incurred from 2009-2014. No cost savings analysis was provided to the auditors to substantiate that future savings would exceed the cost of staffing through overtime while waiting for the completion of police labor negotiations.
  • No quantifiable evidence was provided to support that dollar savings actually resulted from the NCPD cost savings initiatives implemented in 2013. These initiatives included: deployment of officers from the Precinct Special Units that were eliminated, limiting federal task force overtime to what is reimbursed by federal agencies, aggressively managing arrest and detail overtime; expediting the graduation of academy classes; etc.
  • The need to utilize overtime to meet minimum staffing requirements was not verifiable. Minimum staffing accounted for more than 55% of overtime in 2014. A document that summarized the minimum staffing requirements for each of the eight precincts could not be provided by the NCPD. As a result, the need for officers to work overtime to meet these requirements could not be tested. Currently, the minimum staffing requirements are imbedded in the Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) and arbitration awards executed over the years. It is not acceptable that precinct commanders (or the auditors) have to sift through and interpret the CBAs and arbitration awards to determine the minimum staffing levels at any given time.
  • Testing revealed that on average, 33% of officers were on paid leave at any point in time which resulted in higher overtime to meet minimum staffing requirements.
  • The auditors’ review of the roll call documents found manually altered Police roll call sheets with inconsistent formats that made it difficult to verify the reasons for overtime.

 .  The contractual privilege to include a portion of overtime in pension benefit calculations is a major incentive for officers nearing retirement to volunteer to work overtime, contributing to larger overtime earnings of senior officers. Pensions are based on the employee’s highest consecutive salary years (three or five years depends on hire date) which includes overtime. For officers hired beginning in 2010, a cap was put on the amount of overtime that qualifies towards pension calculations. The auditors determined that the top 100 earners annually in 2011, 2012, and 2013 came from a pool of 184 officers of which 41 had retired in 2014. Although NCPD’s procedures are designed to distribute overtime equitably on a volunteer basis, our review showed that senior officers made themselves available for overtime more frequently than less senior officers.

  • 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. Officers are contractually entitled to a minimum of four hours of overtime when ordered by subpoena to appear in court, even when they do not testify, or when the hearing is not rescheduled within the 48 hours timeframe. During 2011-2013, the NCPD paid 65,905 hours of court overtime for which the officers did not testify.
  • The NCPD’s CHIEFS timekeeping system is an extremely antiquated system with very limited functionality and is not adequate for recording police overtime. The CHIEFS System prohibits recording multiple work entries on a single day therefore overtime for different shifts and programs must be recorded on different days which do not agree with the manual time records.
  • A cost analysis study to evaluate the cost-benefit of Police overtime was budgeted for $250,000 in 2007, was never completed due to a lack of a decision by the Nassau County Legislature.

Key Recommendations:

We recommend that the NCPD take steps to: · control costs with the annual budget and document all assumptions and calculations to support NCPD estimated dollar savings for each cost savings initiative. This includes justifying all claimed 20 year future savings.

  • develop and execute more effective initiatives to streamline the efficiency of police activities.
  • consolidate and update the minimum staffing requirements from all the Police Unions’ CBAs and MOAs into one document and distribute to all Commanding Officers.
  • engage an outside professional police consultant to analyze the various CBAs and MOAs, and perform a cost-benefit analysis of NCPD’s workforce rules and overtime policies and practices and recommend best practices, for use in future labor negotiations This would include seeking ways to reduce the minimum staffing requirements and the total number of officers in each command who are allowed to take vacation at the same time.
  • develop a standard computerized roll call format across all commands, which includes the reason the officer is called in to work overtime.
  • make efforts to better distribute overtime, when applicable and practical, among its entire workforce.
  • review with the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the Nassau County Administrative Judge ways to change the existing procedures used to schedule officers subpoenaed to appear in court in order to reduce cancellations within the 48 hour period.
  • replace the CHIEFS timekeeping system with the current county wide In Time System that is being transitioned to People Soft.

 

 

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