Oakland police officers logged more than $30 million in overtime pay last year despite more than 80 percent of cases missing proper documentation thanks to a system that has virtually no oversight.
According to an audit, 217 Oakland Police Department officers – around 30 percent of the total force – each accumulated about 520 hours of overtime last year, amounting to more than $30 million in total overtime pay.
Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine.
Auditors also found that one officer managed to clock more than 2,600 overtime hours in just one year, equaling about 108 days of round-the-clock work. Meanwhile, 24 officers logged between 1,249 and 2,599 hours.
The exact work that the officers performed to earn the extra money remained unclear, according to the audit, because 83 percent of the cases lacked proper documentation. As a result, the department “cannot efficiently reconcile between the scheduling and the payroll systems,” which would ensure accurate overtime pay.
The report claims that the inefficient overtime pay system not only costs taxpayers millions but also diminishes the police work.
“Workload fatigue can lead to poorer perceived health, increased chance for injury, and illnesses," the audit report read. “Specifically, in high-stress, unpredictable environments like police work, fatigue, in turn, can lead to a greater chance for poor decision-making, which may have health and safety consequences for officers or for the community that they serve.”
“Workload fatigue can lead to poorer perceived health, increased chance for injury, and illnesses. Specifically, in high-stress, unpredictable environments like police work, fatigue, in turn, can lead to a greater chance for poor decision-making, which may have health and safety consequences for officers or for the community that they serve.”
The report also notes that the department is suffering from a policy that institutionalizes inefficiency by allowing officers to amass 1.5 hours of “comp time” for every hour of overtime worked.
According to Reason, when a cop uses the “comp time” that he or she accrued by working overtime, other officers have to work overtime to fill the gap. This creates a perpetual cycle of overtime work, where 10 hours of overtime create 15 hours of comp time that is then filled by officers working overtime that again creates comp time that needs to be filled.
The audit concludes that the city hasn’t addressed the problems regarding the compensation practices that were raised back in 2015.