the police have made progress with overtime

OAKLAND – More than two years later issue a report revealing that Oakland spends about $ 30 million a year on police overtime, the city’s auditor released a follow-up report Friday it concluded that the police department has made some progress in controlling excessive costs.

City auditor Courtney Ruby’s 2019 analysis of the department’s overtime expenses spanned the previous four years when she discovered officers were forced to work long hours to cover vacancies.

Her previous report also criticized the department for lacking adequate internal rules on overtime use and concluded that it needs to do a significantly better job of managing costs and being transparent about it.

Oakland had exceeded its overtime budget by an average of $ 13.7 million each year, Ruby’s team found.

Excessive police overtime has been a concern among Oakland residents and executives alike at least two decades. This concern stretched into budget discussions in 2020 and 2021, when a financial report showed that the police department exceeded its budget for 2019-20 by $ 32 million.

Ruby’s follow-up report identified 11 recommendations that the police department had at least partially implemented, and 10 have not.

Ruby stated that the current two-year police department budget, which allocates $ 60 million for overtime, is in line with her recommendation that it more “realistically” assess how much extra money is likely to be paid.

She had also recommended that the department occupy positions so that it could be fully staffed. Although the department has struggled to recruit candidates, the city council recently helped alleviate the rapid loss of sworn officers by approving additional police academies with the aim of adding 60 officers by the summer of 2023.

However, it was a controversial move as critics of police funding questioned whether the city should spend more money on strengthening the department.

The department also identified methods to control overtime costs, although technological constraints prevented it from automating overtime planning and management, as recommended.

And Ruby’s recommendation that the “unsafe” amount of voluntary overtime should be limited was rejected by city administrators, who refuted that it could lead to mandatory overtime to fill shifts or leave unattended events.

Many of the recommendations that were not implemented involved issues covered by contracts with police unions that are not to be renegotiated before 2024. Ruby recommended that the city stop practices, such as allowing officers to defer their overtime payments, for example.

Ruby’s office will provide further updates on how the police department is implementing her recommendations. But in the wake of a year of intense debate over public safety funding, the city is expected to weigh other analyzes of how the department should spend its money.

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