City cops go into overtime

January 15, 1998

City cops go into overtime


Staff Writer

Hagerstown City Police overtime costs have more than doubled over the last six years and could jump to nearly $1 million if Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II has his way.

Bruchey went to Annapolis on Wednesday to ask State Sen. Donald F. Munson and Del. John P. Donoghue to help the city get $400,000 to pay for additional police overtime.

"I went down to see if we could get some help. We're not asking for a whole lot," Bruchey said Thursday.


Bruchey suggested the money could come from the $260 million state budget surplus.

Added to the $547,936 budgeted for police department overtime for the fiscal year, the additional money would bring overtime funds to about $948,000.

The department has spent $438,044 on overtime in the first six months of the fiscal year, said Al Martin, city finance director.

Bruchey said he wants more overtime money to help police attack the drug problem in Washington County's criminal hot spot area, which runs roughly between North Walnut and North Potomac streets and Antietam street to Bethel street.

Bruchey said that once the drug problem is brought under control, overtime costs could decrease because community police officers could be used to help prevent it from again becoming a major problem.

Munson, R-Washington, said he would discuss the matter with someone in the governor's office, but chances of Hagerstown getting the money don't look good.

"It's probably a long shot of long shots," he said.

Munson said he understands the need to address the crime problems in the hot spot area, which includes Church Street where his district office is located.

If Hagerstown were to get state money to pay for police overtime, every other city in the state would want a share of the surplus, Munson said.

State leaders have several ideas for how to spend the budget surplus, said Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington.

Ideas have included funding school construction, accelerating plans for an income tax cut and saving for a downturn in the economy, McKee said.

Martin said he doesn't know where additional funding for overtime would come from, given that the city is in the midst of a tight fiscal year.

The most the city has spent on police overtime in any fiscal year was $666,453, in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 1997, Martin said.

Given the current rate, Martin said he'd be surprised if overtime costs stayed within the budgeted amount.

Police Chief Dale Jones said the department usually incurs the bulk of its overtime costs in the first six months of the fiscal year. During that period, special events require extra police coverage and many department members take vacation time then.

Jones said overtime has increased in recent years for several reasons:

- More police officers were hired, resulting in more overtime for court appearances and roll call.

The department has gone from 88 sworn positions in fiscal year 1995 to 101 now. Nine of those employees are in the police academy.

- More arrests mean more court time. The number of arrests has increased drastically in the last two years.

- Special event coverage, including the Mummers' Parade, Augustoberfest, bicycle races and Civil War-related activities, require police coverage.

The police worked $10,000 worth of overtime for last year's Mummers' Parade, with 91 police department employees on duty that night.

"The bottom line is we're doing more," Jones said.

Not all of the overtime budget spent was disbursed as overtime pay, Jones said. About 36 percent of overtime was taken as compensatory time instead of overtime pay at time and a half. The regular rate of pay, rather than time and a half, is deducted from the overtime budget for those who take compensatory time, Martin said.

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