Cincinnati police change OT procedures after allegations of ‘felony theft’

Cincinnati police change OT procedures after allegations of ‘felony theft’
(Source: WXIX)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati police officials unveiled new overtime procedures Friday after allegations some officers were abusing the system to the extent of “felony theft.”

The new policy, released in weekly staff notes, essentially instructs police officials to use sound management principals of on-duty personnel and union contract provisions to control and reduce overtime expenditures in the delivery of police services.

This comes as the city awaits the release of its annual state audit. It scrutinized police overtime spending of taxpayer dollars at the request of Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters in light of allegations in a federal lawsuit by a veteran police captain alleging illegal abuse while Police Chief Eliot Isaac turned a blind eye.

We reached out to Cincinnati police for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

Here’s what’s new in the police overtime procedure, according to CPD staff notes:

  • The policy now defines excessive overtime and gives examples of acceptable and unacceptable overtime practices.
  • Excessive overtime is defined as accrual of overtime that exceeds the time necessary to complete an imminent and required task or duty directly related to an employee’s specific assignment within the department, or as directed by a supervisor.
  • Unacceptable overtime practices include an officer working beyond their regularly scheduled duty hours to complete mundane tasks that can be performed at another time or by another officer already on duty
  • Officers are not permitted to take off their regularly scheduled duty hours to work Police Visibility Overtime (PVO) unless authorized by the district/section commander
  • “All Department personnel will avoid overtime whenever possible, strive to reduce overtime hours worked, and not work excessive or unnecessary overtime hours.”
  • All compensatory time will be recorded as directed in this procedure. Unrecorded time is strictly prohibited.
  • Supervisors will consider the use of on-duty personnel or will adjust the employee’s hours rather than scheduling overtime, if contractually permissible. Pertinent provisions of the contract dealing with shift separation and shift changes must also be considered.

Cincinnati’s state audit is not yet complete and is not anticipated to be until sometime around the end of the month, said Beth Gianforcaro with Auditor Dave Yost’s office.

The interdepartmental audit of police overtime in the last half of 2017 found “intentional actions to maximize compensation."

It was conducted by Captain Jeff Butler and overseen by then-Assistant Police Chief David Bailey.

“We are gratified that the CPD has adopted new guidelines on overtime. Interestingly, they track very closely to the recommendations made long ago by Lt. Col. Bailey and Capt. Butler," said Brian Gillan, Butler’s attorney.

Cincinnati police officials have disputed the audit’s findings, draft that was leaked to the media, not a final version.

It was leaked before it was checked for accuracy and had inaccurate figures, and has since been updated with correct and lower totals, city memos show.

The new procedures also come weeks after Councilmen David Mann and Greg Landsman called for an update on police overtime and manpower.

Their motion asks city administration to report on the current overtime audits and steps police and city officials are taking to modernize overtime processes and reduce overtime spending.

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

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."

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