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Norwalk Police overtime jumped in June

Updated, 6:27 a.m.: School Resource Officers were new to the budget in 2013-14

NORWALK, Conn. – An unexpected jump in Norwalk Police overtime for June has been attributed to the unanticipated impact of keeping school resource officers (SROs) out of the patrol division.

The Board of Estimate and Taxation last week approved transferring money to cover $193,409 in June overtime expenses for the police patrol division, which Finance Director Thomas Hamilton said was about $50,000 higher than expected. Deputy Norwalk Police Chief Susan Zecca attributed that to both SROs and higher than expected vacation time.

The Norwalk Fire Department also had a spike in overtime. Chief Denis McCarthy said in a letter to the BET that he had sent officers out for grant-funded training and then had to pay overtime for others to cover their shifts.

Hamilton said the budget transfers would have no effect on any department as the fiscal year had ended. It is routine for police officers to switch from division to division, he said.

“Ultimately,” Zecca said, ” the allocation of the school resource officers to the schools, we found, reduced the manpower we have available in patrol by two and that created more of an impact that we anticipated going into the summer months that are typically higher overtime months.”

The department also has been trying to keep officers to their contractual maximum of carryover for vacation time, resulting in higher use of vacation time than last year and therefore more overtime as people covered those shifts.

Also, officers working an overtime shift can take it in time owed rather than in payment, she said. They get time and a half, so if they work eight hours they are owed 12. When they take it, officers filling in for them also get time and a half, she said.

This is unique to public safety officers and is mandated by the federal government, Hamilton said.

The SROs were still in the schools in June, Zecca said.

“We had kept them in the special victims unit through the summer. We just, we had not realized the impact it was going to have on our patrol staffing,” Zecca said. “…We are looking at it to try to see going forward how we can better manage it. We didn’t realize quite how severe it was.”

Zecca said the SROs were transferred back to the patrol division on Aug. 1. That is in spite of them doing “some really valuable work during the summer” to make a difference with youth, she said, naming the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, P.A.L. (Police Athletic League) and youth at-risk home checks.

BET Chairman Jim Clark said there is tension around the issue.

“We have had tension as we have seen overtime” for police and fire go up and down, Clark said. “We know we are being kept safe by these public servants, and yet, at the same time, we want to make sure that no one is being cavalier with how they are working overtime, or gaming the system. Those things can happen anywhere and, at least for me, it’s been a concern. It’s difficult until we understand a little bit more what the pieces of the puzzle are so we can manage our overtime.”

Then-Mayor Richard Moccia added three new police officers last year as part of the 2013-14 operating budget. They were not new positions, but positions that had not been authorized to be filled. The officers were assigned to the schools as school resource officers.

Comments

8 responses to “Norwalk Police overtime jumped in June”

  1. WOW just WOW

    In the private sector excuses don’t fly for going over budget.. Managers tend to be fired for it.

  2. John Hamlin

    Is there accountability for going over budget?

  3. OhNoNorwalk

    Time to Outsource the police and start saving this city big bucks.
    Has the city done a comparison on savings for outsourcing the police and fire departments.
    That’s got to be the next 2 biggest expenditures of the city.

  4. Anonymous

    Just have the criminals police themself and the problems solved..

  5. Don’t Panic

    Is there any concern that overtime was triggered by PAL and DARE? It would seem that these are not core safety services, but extras.

  6. One and Done.

    Do we pick up the overtime for the Darien, Stamford, Wilton police that had to be called in for the crowd control last Saturday night? Or did those towns kindly donate these resources to us?

  7. Walter O’Reilly

    People keep talking about “outsourcing” police and fire. I don’t believe this has ever been done in CT, except the very small towns that have a resident trooper and nothing else. Can anyone that is suggesting this be done provide some background and facts about it? Or is it just ridiculous banter? I’d be interested to know more about it myself. And when other towns send police or fire to help out, it’s their on-duty personnel and there is no overtime or other costs. It’s part of mutual aid agreements between all the towns.

  8. citizen

    @oneanddone – excellent question.

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