Monday, April 27, 2009

Indy Taxpayers Hit For $15 Million In Overtime Pay

As the City of Indianapolis' Capital Improvement Board seeks a $48 million a year bailout through higher taxes, a new report uncovers out-of-control overtime pay by the City, which paid some police officers more than double their annual salary due to overtime wages last year. City workers earned more than $15 million last year in 2008 for overtime pay according to a Fox 59 Investigates report tonight. Some police officers, with their overtime pay, are earning more than IMPD's Chief Michael Spears and Mayor Greg Ballard.

The Fox59 Investigates report found that overtime pay had climbed dramatically over the past three years, growing nearly 50% from $10 million in 2006 to $15 million in 2008. Two IMPD traffic officers stand out. Officer John Haggard earned $75,000 in overtime pay last year. Adding overtime to his $55,000 annual pay, Haggard earned $130,000 last year. Another IMPD traffic officer, James Goddard, earned $63,000 in overtime pay on top of his $55,000 regular pay, allowing him to earn $118,000. Both officers earned well in excess of Chief Spears' $107,000 annual pay and Mayor Ballard's $95,000 annual pay.

According to the report, it's not just police officers racking up the overtime pay. Other city workers earned between $18,000 and $40,000 in overtime pay. In the case of police officers, Deputy Director of Operations John Conley attributed the problem with Goddard and Haggard to a federally-funded grant program that encourages the City to issue more tickets for DUIs, seat belt violations and aggressive driving. The two officers together issued more than 15,000 tickets last year. Conley said new rules have been implemented to limit the amount of overtime pay a city police officer can accrue in a pay period to no more than 20 hours. He also said more officers are being trained to do traffic grant work. The department is also barring police officers from collecting overtime pay while waiting for repairs to their cars.

I would be curious to see a list of city workers, other than police officers, who collected overtime pay and the amount of overtime pay they earned. It seems like this should be an area of government where cost controls can effectively keep costs down. Police would argue that the overtime pay is offset by the additional revenues the officers generated from writing so many tickets. At the same time, those arrests help clog the court system and drive up the costs of operating our courts.

UPDATE: Fox 59 has uploaded a database of overtime pay for city workers, which you can access by clicking here for county employees and here for city employees.

22 comments:

Indy4U2C said...

If the officers are working a federal grant, paid with federal money, to catch drunk drivers and make the city safer for our families: what is the issue?

It seems to me we are getting help from the feds to keep the city streets safe and if the officers want to earn that money by arresting drunk drivers, I see no news in that.

The more drunk drivers off the roads, the safer we all are!

Indy4U2C said...

Gary, is your headline contradicting what you report? You said we get hit for the overtime pay, but then say it is a federal grant paying for it, NOT us.

Jon said...

Wasn't part of savings due to the merger the reduction of overtime?
Or was that just another bedtime story?

Advance Indiana said...

I find that only people who work in government make the claim that if it is federal money, it doesn't matter. That's utter bullshit. We paid those taxes whether it came from the federal, state or local government. I abhor any program which incentivizes cops to ticket people just for the sake of ticketing them. Inevitably, people are issued tickets who ordinarily would not have been issued a ticket. Unfortunately, the Fox report focused on the cops because they earned so much overtime. As I said, there were other city workers who contributed to that $15million tab who weren't the focus of the report. I would like to see those city workers identified and the amount of their overtime pay.

Indy Student said...

Indy4u2c, what you don't understand is that these guys aren't out there keeping the roads safe. They're ticketing people to meet quotas, or else they get reprimended because it puts the precious overtime bonus at risk. They're not out there trying to keep us safe. They're out there looking out for themselves.

Every few years the police whine about their pay being too low, but it seems they have plenty of avenues to get more. My sympathy does to go the cops who aren't able to score sweet gigs like that and actually have to do some real work for their salary.

Wait...aren't ticket quotas illegal?

Good luck trying to find any records of other city employees. They should be public, but Indy has a pretty low regard for stuff like keeping the public informed.

Indy4U2C said...

Gary, I thought they were taking drunk drivers off the road??? --which means lives are saved!!!!

Nobody can argue that saving lives is worth it!

Now, as for the tickets, obviously more violations are noticed if you tell cops to go out and look for signs of impaired driving! I find a great benefit in that, and consider it worthwhile!!!

-P. S. A friend of mine was struck head-on on 38th ST near Franklin RD late at night by a DRUNK DRIVER going the WRONG WAY, and he nearly died, suffered permanent brain damage, had to have his hip replaced, and will NEVER be the same! Another person I knew was killed by a drunk driver. I saw a man pushing a car off the road on New Year's Eve get his leg severed by a drunk driver!!!! I was there for that one!

Gary, I have NO sympathy for drunk drivers. I support all efforts to get them off the road.

I think it's worth the money (Federal Grant) to get drunk drivers off the road....and, perhaps, rehabilitate a few.

Jon said...

Wage and hour law states that if a person works overtime they either get compensatory time off or paid for their overtime(during the pay period it occurred). Most businesses require that overtime must be approved before it occurs to contain costs. My point is that this is a management issue as well as a political issue. Secondly, whether the overtime is paid by the city, state or the feds it is still our taxes. There are no free lunches, someone always pays.

Jason said...

What I would like to know is how critics propose reducing overtime costs. Forcing all officers with daytime court dates to work during the day? They briefly held a night court a few years ago but that didn't work out. Officers need to be on the clock 24/7. Unfortunately, court staff, clerks, bailiffs, and judges typically don't like working the graveyard shift so other than initial hearing court they work business hours. Hence, officers who don't normally work business hours and have court would either have to attend court while they're on duty at night, or be forced to work during the day, in which case you would have to hire additional officers to fill in for the late shift officers who are stuck in court. It's a vicious cycle. Many of these overtime hours are accumulated by officers that are constantly on call. If you're a homicide detective who's already put in the max # of hours for the week or month, are we supposed to order him/her to stay at home, even when a new lead develops?

The logic behind the DUI enforcement is thus: according to NHTSA, one DUI fatality costs approximately $1 million in combined response. If you hand out a half a million dollars worth of DUI grants (which is indeed a boatload) and only prevent ONE DUI fatality, you've doubled your investment. And saved a few lives.

varangianguard said...

$130,000 in OT?!? Probably spend most of that OT sitting in traffic court. What a canard. Bullying DOES seem to pay, if one joins the police department.

Diana Vice said...

You're right again, Gary! This mentality that we don't pay for it if it comes from the federal government is just plain dumb. Tax money comes from the we, the people, not the federal government. It's not free money. Someone invested a lot of sweat in order to hand it over to federal bureaucrats.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Okay, the notion that it is "okay" if the money comes from the feds is a bit irritating. That money comes from taxpayers. Period.

The notion that they're somehow making the streets safer doesn't hold water. They're required to write tickets to get their money. Their meeting a quota to get paid.

How can we keep those officers out of court? Here's a unique idea. Have reasonablly priced speeding tickets that people will want to just pay rather than challenge in court. Of course, the new traffic court judge here thinks he can impose a $400 fine on people for taking their case to trial. I doubt that when that policy gets challenged legally, it's going to hold up in court.

varangianguard said...

Jason, you shifted from apples to oranges here. We aren't talking about detectives, of any stripe. And besides, that is an argument for another place and time.

This is about ticket machines er, traffic officers who seem to equate law enforcement with writing traffic tickets ad nauseum. Citing traffic offenses does not equate to crime fighting. Who ever thought that up?

Obviously, for some officers the lure of large OT paychecks for enforcing minor civil offenses is just too good to pass up. The alternative after all is actually going out and trying to prevent or solve criminal offenses. Ooo. Too scary, and the work!

Indy Student said...

Indy4u2c,

Yeah, a plea to emotion. If only there were officers working overtime that are out there stopping drunk drivers. However, these federal grants are for traffic violations. There's a huge difference between pulling over someone going 15+mph over the limit, and searching for everything that could be wrong with a car. If they don't write up enough tickets, they don't get paid.

Jason,
It's really simple. You have officers working overtime when they're working for the safety of the public. Pulling someone over because of a minor detail on one's car is not serving the public. It's serving themselves.
And outside of overtime pay, getting rid of all the parking ticket officers that patrol downtown and Broad Ripple during business hours would sav a good chunk of change.

guido said...

How about the OT for sporting events, black expo or the races we host. Oh, and the one I never understood the motorcycle escorts to the track. Then theres the debate over off duty employment or selling of the badge. Squad car,gas officer in uniform. I respect the police I think they are underpaid, but from the taxpayer perspective these things raise flags

Indy Student said...

guido,

My grandfather was a City County coucil rep for a number of years, so I have a limited familiarity about police escorts.
The cops you see in Broad Ripple or other bar districts are almost all off-duty cops being employed by the businesses of the area. If they're paid in cash or some other method, I don't know.
Sporting and convention events are usually a combination of on-duty police, off-duty police and private security (though honestly, if a convention wants additional security they should pony up themselves and not hog public resources).
The escorts and how they're dealt with vary. People who have the good seats usually have the connections to get to. Funerals often hire police escorts, but I've known officers to volunteer their services for no pay if it's a public official or veteran.

Indy4U2C said...

IndyStudent:

Sorry about your luck, but you need to do what I did and verify the facts:

*Much of the overtime is for DWI enforcement: Getting drunk drivers off the streets.

*Some of the overtime is for traffic safety: getting the idiot going 15+ over the limit to slow down. Do you remember the multi-fatality on I-69 this year caused when speeders could not stop to avoid collision? It was in Hamilton County and lead news story!

Some goes to enforce intersections designated as having extraordinary high crash rates. Thus enforcing traffic law encourages everyone to obey the law & drive safer, preventing injuries and property damage.

Being informed now, I support the overtime pay! It's making Indianapolis safer.

Jason said...

Okay, now I'm confused. Are people mad because their tax money is being used to pay for this increased enforcement, because they think the fines are 'unconstitutional' (read what the max fine is for infractions in the state of Indiana, you'd be surprised), because they think traffic enforcement is a waste of time, or because the courts are benefitting from the increased revenue due to all the additional tickets?

I think it's fine if you want to pick on the overtime issue from the standpoint of traffic enforcement, but in reality court overtime costs are extremely significant (that's why I brought them up), yet that never comes up. Why?

varangianguard said...

Indy4U2C,

Then perhaps you, personally, won't mind picking up the tabs of these civil servant hawgs?

Just the OT listed for those two clowns could have paid for three more officers.

Perhaps, if there was no more OT for police, the City might get off its duff and actually do some serious recruiting.

Probably not, as that would entail actual "work" to be performed, instead of padding their "training" budget and carrying Traffic Court.

The thing is, if this was OT for real crime fighting, I'd be all for it. But, it isn't. It's just Trolling for Dollars.

varangianguard said...

Jason, I'm pretty sure that traffic fines go to two main things. Police "training" and Traffic Court "costs".

The training part isn't theoretically bad, if the training is worthwhile, but writing tickets to support the Court you have to pay them to is a circle jerk of monumental proportions.

Judge: I want a raise. Police go forth and enforce traffic codes.

Police: Driver, you're going two (2!!!) mph over the posted limit (nowhere near children or schools or pedestrians). Here is your $250ticket!

Judge: (if case even appears on a docket) Guilty! (no matter what, as I have to pay for my kid's braces/college/...). You are a bad person. Repent of your sins!

Mayor: Look at all the crime my police dept is addressing! (Maybe I could switch traffic fines to support the CIB?).

Jason said...

Actually I've seen the traffic court judge dismiss plenty of traffic cases. The complaints usually arise from a misunderstanding of the differences between the criminal justice system and the civil courts in regard to burden of proof.

Depending on whether a state infraction or a city ordinance violation is written the money gets divided two separate ways. A small (very small) portion is supposed to be earmarked for police training but rarely ends up that way. Most of it usually goes to the state.

To the best of my knowledge, judges don't get raises based on court revenue. Either way, if it did function in that way the court overtime issue would have to be back in the limelight...

varangianguard said...

The current Traffic Court Judge - in Marion County?

I simply don't believe that. I know him as the "hanging judge".

Off with the traffic offender's pocketbook! Guilty no matter what! I'm straightening this court out if I have to fine you all to Oblivion!

Maybe you are talking about some other county?

Thomas Gibson said...

John Haggard, hmmm the same police officer arrested for beating his wife and using his department issued hand gun to terrorize his neighbors. Great way to compensate for a job well done. This same officer did this same sort of OT and beating women before he joined IMPD, he was a patrol officer under Chief Tim Viles in Mooresville, Indiana.