2 councilmen call for update on CPD overtime, manpower

2 councilmen call for update on CPD overtime, manpower
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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Two Cincinnati City Council members are asking for an update on police overtime and manpower.

Councilmen Greg Landsman and David Mann have drafted a motion asking the city administration to report on the current Cincinnati Police Department overtime audits and steps CPD and city administration are taking to modernize and overtime processes and reduce overtime spending.

“It’s been several months that some of the overtime costs have come to our attention,” Mann said Monday. “The state auditor is doing a report and we are waiting for that work to be done. The real issue is the proper management. Overtime is necessary on occasion, but is there a better way to manage overtime? We are trying to save money. We face a very tight budget year, obviously."

The city faces a $19 million deficit in the 2019 budget, city officials say.

They also drafted a motion asking administrators “for a comprehensive coverage assessment to provide a greater understanding as to how CPD’s sworn officers and other staff are currently being deployed, by district and overall."

The motions have been filed to the council clerk’s office for other council members to sign, Landsman’s office said Monday.

They are expected to be discussed at some point in the future by the full council and and their Law & Public Safety Committee.

This comes amid the city’s annual state financial audit, one that is taking a close look at police overtime spending of taxpayer dollars.

That audit should be wrapping up soon and out by year’s end, State Auditor Dave Yost has said.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters asked the state auditor to review police overtime spending after Captain Jeff Butler alleged in a federal lawsuit earlier this year some officers were scamming the system for more pay to the extent of “felony theft” and Police Chief Eliot Isaac was turning a blind eye.

The police chief has disputed the audit’s findings, calling it a draft that was leaked to the media, not a final version. Read the police department’s updated version of the audit here.

“The tone in which this audit was written is unusual for a fact gathering document,” Isaac wrote in a city memo in March. “There are several significant factors regarding the audit that are of serious concern requiring my further review before public release.”

For example, he wrote, the city’s finance manager was never consulted or given the opportunity to verify the figures in this audit.

The audit set off a tumultuous chain of events that included the chief and then-City Manager Harry Black ousting Bailey, a popular police veteran considered “a cop’s cop" with decades of experience in every section of the department.

Black was so upset the audit was leaked, he called for federal prosecutors to root out a “rogue element” he claimed was “corrupt” within the Cincinnati Police Department and undermining the police chief’s authority.

Some police employees are disrupting operations, according to Black at the time, because they don’t want to work for an African-American chief and city manager.

The day after Bailey was forced out, Cranley asked Black to resign.

Black refused, and an intense public feud erupted at City Hall.

A month later, Black resigned seconds before a special City Council meeting was called to order to fire him. By then, he’d lost majority council support in the wake of the Kyle Plush tragedy.

Problems with Cincinnati police overtime are nothing new.

Police released a report in March 2016 that found more than half of all overtime requests weren’t approved or verified correctly between July 2014 and September 2015.

At that time, police leaders said they planned to overhaul the way it reports overtime to make improvements.

That included the start of regular overtime audits at all five police districts and list the top overtime earners by rank - the exact audit Butler and his staff did that has caused so much controversy.

The city’s lastest available audit, from 2016, also found noncompliance in 354 instances related to forms that police are required to fill out when they work overtime.

  • 160 of 354 (45 percent) were not pre-approved
  • 1 out of 354 were not received
  • 6 out of 354 (2 percent) were not complete

“Failure to adhere to the policies implemented could lead to the abuse of overtime, overtime pay being denied and errors in overtime payments,” auditors wrote. “We recommend the City implement controls to ensure that employees are adhering to the overtime approval policies.”

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