Alderman hopes for hearings on STL police officer overtime audit - KMOV.com

Alderman hopes for hearings on STL police officer overtime audit calls 'extreme'

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Lack of control over your money.

That's what a report says is going on in the city of St. Louis, as auditors took a look at police officer overtime pay

The audit reveals the city blew its overtime budget in a one year period by close to $5 million.

News 4 Investigates' Lauren Trager first broke news of four officers charged in April for stealing from the city for forging overtime documents.

Now, some people fear the problem is more widespread.

But News 4 has learned it's going to be weeks before local lawmakers can do anything about it.  Alderman Megan Green says it will be September when the Board of Aldermen reconvenes.

She recently read the audit and was stunned. She now wants an investigative review.

Meanwhile, though, some police officers are fighting back, saying the audit paints a picture that isn't accurate. They say overtime is absolutely necessary to patrol the streets during difficult times.

The audit, released back in May by the St. Louis Comptroller's office, looked at one year of officer overtime pay.

Here are some the highlights:

  1. The audit says more than 340,000 hours of officer overtime could not be verified because detailed time sheets weren't maintained.
  2. The audit provides some examples, including that one officer earned $77,000 in overtime, on top of his regular pay.
  3. The audit also detailed 106 instances where officers worked overtime while on vacation.

The audit says there are extreme over-budget conditions and the report points to the opportunities for better bookkeeping.

Mayor Lyda Krewson has acknowledged that overtime isn't ideal. She believes it will be alleviated by a proposed sales tax increase.

There's a lot of issues at play: for one, there's no permanent chief at the helm right now, since Sam Dotson’s departure in April. There are also questions about whether the city was fully prepared to take back the police department from the state back in 2013.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department released the following statement on Thursday afternoon:

The comptroller's audit was conducted under the previous administration. Acting Chief O'Toole received a copy of the audit and created a committee consisting of middle and senior commanders to review the issue and offer recommendations.
 
The committee met and quickly identified some solutions which should result in a reduction in overtime expenditures for exempt commissioned personnel. Overtime spending by police officers is being more closely monitored and evaluated than done so in the previous administration. Procedures are being placed to ensure compliance to city regulations related to overtime spending. 
 
The department is 114 officers below authorized strength, therefore some overtime is necessary. 

Alderman Green says the mayor and the chief could issue a moratorium or cap overtime until aldermen can further study the issue in the fall. But so far, News 4 has not heard back on whether that will happen.

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