Audit Recommends Changes To Police Dept Overtime

Mar 22, 2016

Credit Michael E. Keating

The Cincinnati Police Department is working to tighten its policies on some overtime for its officers.

The city's Internal Audit department recently completed a review of some of the police department's discretionary overtime, which must be pre-approved by a supervisor. The goal was to determine if the overtime was properly managed, authorized and approved.

The audit sampled 424 overtime forms for 35 officers who were high users of overtime. It found 53 percent of the forms were not properly approved and/or verified.

The review also found instances where officers took paid time off and worked overtime assignments during the same time frame. The department said this is more of a policy issue and not officers doing anything wrong.

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac asked for the audit soon after he was named interim chief in September 2015.

The audit focused on contingency, increment and reimbursable overtime. It did not review overtime for officers making court appearances or working off-duty details for a private employer.

Some of the audit findings include:

  • Overtime forms were not properly approved and/or verified.
  • A comprehensive overtime policy was not established.
  • Payment errors and other inconsistencies in the timekeeping process.
  • Technology improvements and system documentation were needed.
  • Overtime reports were not consistently submitted for review.

"The audit revealed CPD's internal controls over managing the overtime process need strengthening," Internal Audit Manager Lauren Sundararajan wrote in the report. "Some of the internal control weaknesses stem from vague policies and procedures, insufficient reviews of overtime documentation, and noncompliance with standard operating procedures. Additionally, CPD database systems used to manage the payroll and overtime process has limitations that prevent efficiency."

The audit included 16 recommendations to improve overtime management. Chief Isaac says the department agrees with all but one of those recommendations.

The only disagreement surrounds a succession plan that includes written policies and procedures in the event of staff turnover. The department said it has staff to ensure this happens.

During the 2015 fiscal year, the police department's overtime budget was $6.4 million.