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Balancing Police Overtime Bucks

January 11th, 2017 · 17 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Budget, Law Enforcement, News and Events

It’s the brutal reality of police department finances: keep overtime down. Well, until a major crime event occurs and city leaders must balance public outcry with fiscal prudence. That’s when the area is saturated with extra patrols and investigators. It costs money. And, by the way, we’re understaffed. Translation: more overtime. And so it goes. It’s a major challenge for Police Chief AJ Perez.

From Brian Lockhart, CT Post:

The end of the city’s fiscal year is six months away, and the police department is less than $1 million away from spending its entire overtime budget.

The cops were given $5.5 million, and $4.7 million of it is gone, according to city Finance Director Ken Flatto.

There is hope, Flatto said Monday. A recent crackdown by Police Chief Armando “A.J.” Perez and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer John Gomes worked, at least in December.

“The trend line has recently been decreasing,” Flatto said.

Full story here.

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17 Comments so far ↓

  • Brick

    How much of that is reimbursable though? Is this the gross overtime figure or net of receivables?

    • Frank Gyure

      Brick, please don’t play games with us. We know the whole story of how utilities “pay back” Bridgeport for standing on the road. We also know about high-ranking officers instead of lower-ranking police dept. members getting OT for standing on the road for utility work.

      • Eric Alicea

        The utility companies do pay. The insane piece to the puzzle is road jobs count towards an officer’s pension band. Can’t blame an officer for taking advantage of the entitlement; shame on management for agreeing to it.

        In most towns when a higher-up works a road job they get the patrolman’s rate. I know Fairfield and Norwalk used to do that.

  • The Phantom

    Here it is in a nutshell. They have way too many cops in places that require none! They have a full-time mounted unit with five cops. When was the last time anyone saw them? They sit in a barn all day and I don’t mean the horses. How many cops in community services? There are full-time cops there for many years who essentially do nothing except attend meetings at homes for the elderly or drive convicts around. That includes a captain. Put these people to work in cars that are being filled with overtime cash. There’s also a full-time able bodied officer working as a secretary in police HQ on the third floor. Don’t even ask about the high-priced cops who work full-time in the schools! It’s as simple as a failure to reallocate folks. This is not unique to this chief, it’s been like that for many chiefs. Too many comfortable people doing nothing. Oh yeah, four deputy chiefs to boot. One whose job is only to make sure the internet works. I can go on forever. A six-figure IT guy!

  • Frank Gyure

    I am getting so tired of discussing the remnants of the Bridgeport Police Department aka Bridgeport Police Union. I have met some several individual police officers and they seem to be ready and willing to do the job. Today’s police are highly trained professionals. They need to do their job. Any police department in an urban area is a para-military unit. In Bridgeport, I get the sense we have a para-political unit, especially as you move up into the higher ranks. HEY LENNIE GRIMALDI, whenever you refer to AJ Perez, can you please use the CORRECT title? ACTING POLICE CHIEF ARMANDO PEREZ. It’s called journalistic standards. We have heard absolutely nothing about the charter-mandated process of selecting a Police Chief. Then there is the question of the efficacy of the Board of Police Commissioners. Dan Roach, far too close to the whims of the mayor/executive remains on the Police Board. Dan Roach needs to make a decision. A part-time/advisor to the mayor or a police commissioner. Holding both positions is a conflict of interest and gives the mayor/executive far too much influence over the supposedly paramilitary unit called the Bridgeport Police Department, never mind that Joe Ganim owes the Bridgeport Police Union BIG TIME for their activities during the Bridgeport Democratic Primary and Mayoral Campaign. So the question is do we truly have civilian control over the paramilitary organization called the Bridgeport police Department?

  • Vale la Pena

    Nice article on the CT Post about how Perez has been holding the overtime pay for the last several months. Many officers filed grievances through the union. The union is not doing anything for them. Did we forget that Perez and Paris are best of friends? When enough is enough. Many complaints have been filed with the State Department of Labor. I’m sure they’ll be looking into it soon.
    Perez, you are not any better than Gaudet. At least Gaudet paid the officers who day after day put their lives on the line for the citizens of Bridgeport. A lot of this overtime is necessary in order to have officers on the streets due to the shortage of manpower. Many times some of these officers were forced to work. Perez, how nice of you to hold the overtime pay during the holidays, don’t you feel like the Grinch? And you did it just to make yourself look good. But guess what, the cat is out of the bag. That million you supposedly saved, is the money already spent on overtime you haven’t paid to your officers? So in reality you lied. Let me ask you Perez, what would happen to any officer who got caught lying? You know the answer to that. Either they get demoted or fired. Shame on you, PEREZ.

  • Ron Mackey

    Under the Connecticut Wage and Hour law workers must be paid what they worked for and it can’t be withheld.

  • Tom White

    My time on the city council 25 years ago was an eye-opener. It was such a contrast to my corporate training. The police department was a model of inefficiency. Every function of the BPD included overtime by design as dictated by the union contract regardless of staffing level. Anyone recall the battle over ‘civilization?’ Remember the cynical expression ‘we will solve no crime unless it’s on overtime?’ The BPD is still inefficiency by design. The only city function that comes close is the board of education.

  • Jimfox

    So is Ganim holding back the vaccine for the Blue Flu?

  • John Marshall Lee

    Keep in mind we have not seen current ‘truthful’ police budget information for some time. That statement specifically includes the 2017 budget approved in spring 2016.

    The City did not employ in the PD the number claimed at the time, and the number of officers in the report were also in excess of the potential practical target for the year 2017 after adding two classes and netting for retirees as well. If the “balanced budget” used incorrect numbers, inaccurate as to then current or future potential, what does it matter how accountable the City is month in and month out with its budget numbers, or its control of overtime? “Garbage in, garbage out” is an old phrase for this routine.

    Do we require a more accurate (with assumptions noted) budget presentation for the PD? Where is the vaunted TRANSPARENCY of the G2 administration? Have you looked at the rate of cost increase for the understaffed PD in the past five years? Who is responsible for seeing that Police employees retire and are not routinely replaced to maintain department strength? Police Commission? PD hierarchy with many “chiefs” but too few Indians? Or City Hall that has all the numbers and controls the process and the info?

    Police overtime for the Bridgeport PD is broken down into two components: “internal” overtime that responds to basic needs for patrol, investigation, responding to emergencies, etc. and “external” overtime that focuses on the needs of private businesses doing work on public roads, for example, and employing an armed officer at their site. External overtime charges a contractor for the work done by officers as overtime. There used to be a “profit” if you will, or a “surplus” for the City administrative work in handling assignments and money through a surcharge.

    Back in the day, overtime of either type provided added current earnings for the officer. But it did not have an effect on retirement benefits, until the switch from Plan B Pension with the City of Bridgeport to the State plan several years ago. Suddenly, the City taxpayers were provided the responsibility of FUNDING ADDED PENSION BENEFITS TO POLICE based on the highest three years of earnings INCLUDING INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL OVERTIME.

    The Police Union President negotiated the last union agreement to include a transfer to the State retirement plan for PD retirees. But the contract also included a limitation that the City could not increase current charges for EXTERNAL OVERTIME to cover additional funding for pension benefits. Without such funding, the Bridgeport taxpayer is paying for that benefit, all alone. How many taxpayers know that today? Or knew it when it came out of Labor Relations where Tom McCarthy was employed? How many CC persons learned from McCarthy what that expense in future years would be annually to the City and supported it? And how many of us support removing the review of police activities from the Board of Police Commissioners to the Department Chief (or Acting Chief as we are set today) as has happened? What happened to civilian review of police behavior and performance? Was there ever a discussion? Or is this also over our heads? What is the role or mission of the Police Commission?

    Slavery continued in the South until the Civil War because of the powerful economic benefit to Southern owners of property (land, buildings) and SLAVES to provide very low-cost agricultural production. Taxpayers in Bridgeport are not actually owned by the DTC or their sponsored politicians who hold office today. But our right to be locally well represented is limited by the ability, the integrity and the intentions of those endorsed as well as by the structure and current processes of City systems.

    And the system persists by dumbing down the information about how the system is run and the data provided that shows who benefits at whose expense. Who is negotiating the deals that the residents, property owners and taxpayers will have to live with for 20 or more years into the future? Why do they fail to be announced when completed along with data projections that are comprehensive, can be verified routinely with ease in the future, and from the start are part of a public accountability practice? What contracts are being negotiated today? Has G2 ever explained what his priorities are in this regard? Has he allowed his administration to be questioned publicly? Time will tell.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Well, Ganim has not done nothing for the taxpayers as it relates to the police department. He named and swore in a chief of police who has no college degree and no experience filling out a yearly budget. The problem is Perez never stopped being a street cop and never learned about management. The other problem is he is too close to the police union.
    There are a number of things that could be asked about Perez’ handling of the Blackwell case. Why almost a year to put it out? Why hasn’t he put more street cops on the beat? Why do we still have the horse patrol, a complete waste of taxpayer money and a place to put the sick, lame and lazy? When is Perez going to ask for a complete look at the PD by outside professionals?
    Joe Ganim is actually an astronaut, he just takes up space.

  • Stringfellow

    How many non-police jobs are being done by officers? Why not civilianize those jobs and put those cops to work doing the job they were hired to do? There should be an oversight committee to ask some hard questions on police services. Why is there a two- or three-hour wait on an accident, meanwhile cop cars are driving by?

    What is being done to catch burglars after they have burglarized your home and before they hit the next one?

    Perhaps if more cops had a frame of reference they would better understand what people go through.

    I would like to see an oversight committee and see the minutes of their meetings.

  • Frank Gyure

    All these questions go back to civilian control of the paramilitary unit called the Bridgeport Police Department. The Bridgeport Police Department issue has not been faced since the days of Superintendent Joe Walsh. There is more politics than policing going on with the Bridgeport Police. This will not change as long as Joe Ganim is around.

    • John Marshall Lee

      And as I stated above in the lengthy post, civilian control was given away, negotiated for what, part of the last Police Contract? How did that happen without public notice? Does it matter to any readers beyond Frank G and me? Does anyone see anything out of control in the City beyond last year’s taxes? Time will tell.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    The Police Department is run like a secret society. The public is given tidbits of information but nothing that can be verified.
    Do we know how many officers are working in non-patrol or investigative duties? No we don’t. Do we know what the mounted cops are doing when they are not in a parade? Do we need to spend approx $500K? Do we know if anyone uses the Community Relations building on Sylvan Ave? It appear it is just a parking lot for police cars that never move.
    There is a civilian police commission that is made up of politically active Joe Ganim people. When was the last time you read or heard anything from this do-nothing board? Why is Danny Roach still on this board? Let’s hire an outside firm to look into the entire police department and its manning. BTW where is the $30K taken from the evidence room?

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