Police Overtime: An Examination of Key Issues, Research in Brief by hbh94542

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National Institute of Justice                                                                                                               J US T I C E P




 National Institute of Justice
                 R       e      s      e   a      r     c      h             i       n       B      r      i    e      f
Jeremy Travis, Director                                                                                                     May 1998


Issues and Findings                        Police Overtime:
Discussed in this Research in
Brief: Results from a national study
sponsored by NIJ on police overtime
                                           An Examination of Key Issues
to examine how State and local             by David H. Bayley and Robert E. Worden
police departments managed over-
time and how local law enforce-            There is a sense both inside and outside       ring problem by both private- and public-
ment agencies used Federal money           the law enforcement community that             sector managers.1 Regarding overtime in
authorized for overtime payments.          overtime is overused, misused, and only        policing, almost no information exists in the
Key issues: Overtime work has              halfheartedly controlled. Federal officials    public domain. For this study, researchers
been generally viewed from inside          want to be sure that the funds they award      canvassed the major professional organiza-
and outside the criminal justice           to local police agencies for overtime pay-     tions specializing in police research, as well
community as overused, misused,            ments are well spent. Local police agen-       as prominent police scholars, and could not
and inadequately regulated. In the         cies are equally concerned. For this           find any studies of the use of overtime in
past 15 years, Federal support to          reason, the National Institute of Justice      policing. Management consultants write
State and local police agencies for        commissioned a study of the use of             private reports to individual police agencies
overtime has grown. As a result,           Federal funds provided to local law            that sometimes address the overtime issue,
interest in whether funds used by
                                           enforcement agencies for overtime. (See        but this is unpublished literature that is
local law enforcement agencies for
                                           “Methodology” and “Federal Funding of          generally not available.
overtime payments are well spent
has increased.                             Police Overtime.”) This Research in
                                           Brief reports what we have learned about       Police departments themselves have vast
Study findings:                            improving the management of overtime in        experience in managing overtime, but
                                           American police departments.                   they have not yet shared that knowledge.
• U.S. Department of Justice                                                              Professionals contacted often chuckled
funding accounted for 60 percent           The study discovered enormous differences      when told of the topic being studied, urg-
of Federal support of State and lo-        among local police departments in the at-      ing that the research proceed but indicat-
cal police overtime in 1994, with
                                           tention given to the issue, the capacity to    ing that there were good reasons why no
Operation Weed and Seed and the
                                           produce information about it, and the poli-    studies had been performed previously.
Edward Byrne Memorial State and
Local Law Enforcement Assistance
                                           cies and procedures for managing it.           The universal opinion was that the in-
Grant Program being the primary            Clearly, some departments do an excellent      quiry was long overdue but that the sub-
providers of funding for local po-         job of managing overtime. This Research in     ject matter might prove too sensitive to
lice agencies.                             Brief also shares information about some of    study successfully. Readers should un-
                                           these practices as a way to help agencies      derstand, therefore, that what the authors
• Overtime was funded primarily            grappling with the issue and attempts to an-   present here by way of suggestions for
though local sources; Federal funds
                                           swer the following questions: Can overtime     managing overtime very much represents
accounted for 5 to 10 percent of
                                           be responsibly managed? If so, how?            a first cut at a difficult subject.
local police overtime outlays, which
were less than 6 percent of the de-
                                           Very little has been written about the man-    How does one control overtime in policing?
partments’ total budgets.
                                           agement of overtime, except to report that     The answer: by recording, analyzing, manag-
                        continued…         overtime management is viewed as a recur-      ing, and supervising. This Research in Brief
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Issues and Findings                          will examine each of these activities, so that        based information systems pour out data
                       continued…            police managers may better understand what            that are not used. Unmanaged informa-
• U.S. police departments varied
                                             they can do in a practical way to improve             tion systems are like the legendary
enormously in the attention paid to          overtime performance.                                 sorcerer’s apprentice—madly producing
overtime management and their                                                                      data that bury consumers.
                                             The four activities listed would appear to
ability to produce information
about it.                                    suggest a temporal order of tasks for po-             In short, the management of overtime
                                             lice departments: build databases, ana-               comes in two forms: creating an infra-
• Overtime can be successfully               lyze them for patterns, make appropriate              structure for recording and analyzing
controlled through a combination             managerial decisions, and supervise the               the use of overtime and making policies
of analysis, recordkeeping, man-             resulting policies. Nothing could be more             about overtime based on an understand-
agement, and supervision.
                                             mistaken. The key element that precedes               ing of what is happening. The first sort of
• Police managers should analyze             all others is management. Useful records              management precedes all other activities.
overtime in terms of work done on            systems cannot be constructed unless                  The second sort can only take place if the
paid overtime and on unpaid, or              managers anticipate what they need to                 first sort has been done well.
compensatory, overtime. Paid over-           know. Management is also essential for
time increases policing activity,            analysis, and analysis needs to be speci-             Recognizing that managerial decisions
while compensatory time repre-               fied before responsive data systems can               about the kinds of analysis and, conse-
sents less policing because it must          be designed. In other words, although it              quently, of records that are needed must
be repaid by taking time and a half                                                                be made at the very beginning of any
                                             is certainly true that analysis cannot be
from other activities.                                                                             attempt to control overtime, the topics will
                                             done without records, records cannot be
Implications: Federal money in-              sensibly constructed without prefiguring              be presented in the following order: analy-
vested in overtime by State and lo-          analysis. Recording, analyzing, manag-                sis, recording, managing, and supervising.
cal law enforcement agencies does            ing, and supervising are interactive, not
not supplant local spending on po-           sequential. The key is managing. One of               Analyzing overtime
lice overtime. Overtime should be            the problems besetting contemporary
viewed, within limits, as an un-                                                                   What should managers know to ensure
                                             policing, as managers everywhere rue-                 that overtime is used responsibly? What
avoidable cost of policing. Over-
                                             fully recognize, is that the new computer-            are the major questions they must
time charges cannot be eliminated
altogether, regardless of the num-
ber of police officers employed, be-
cause of inevitable shift extensions,
court appearances, unpredictable                        Methodology
events, and contract requirements.
Concerns about overtime usage
should be addressed through con-
trolling overtime usage with im-
                                                F     indings from this study are based pri-
                                               marily on information collected from three
                                                                                                   forcement Management and Administrative
                                                                                                   Statistics Survey (LEMAS).a Followup calls
                                               sources:                                            were conducted with 100 of the largest
proved management techniques.
                                                                                                   police agencies, which in the aggregate ac-
                                               • An inventory of U.S. Department of                count for most of the police overtime
Target audience: State and local
                                               Justice programs administered through the           worked in the United States.
law enforcement officials and
                                               Bureau of Justice Assistance, Federal Bu-
administrators, city and county
                                               reau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement             • Case studies of overtime practices in 11
officials, criminal justice policy
                                               Administration, and Executive Office for            police departments of various sizes nation-
researchers and practitioners, and
                                               Weed and Seed.                                      wide.
policymakers.
                                                                                                   a
                                               • A seven-page questionnaire on overtime              Conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statis-
                                               expenditures and practices. This survey was         tics, the LEMAS survey included all U.S. po-
                                               mailed to 2,183 State and local police              lice agencies, except for half of those with
                                               agencies—a representative sample of police          five or fewer full-time personnel, which
                                               departments that had responded to the               LEMAS data show generated little overtime.
                                               1990 Bureau of Justice Statistics Law En-




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          Federal Funding of Police Overtime

   A      number of observations on how
  Federal funds are used within local law en-
                                                     • By and large, overtime money is provided
                                                     and used to supplement traditional pro-
                                                                                                      compensatory time results in less policing
                                                                                                      because every hour worked must be repaid
  forcement agencies for overtime emerged            grams, rather than to sponsor programmatic       by the department at time and a half—time
  from the study, including the following:           innovations. Federal expenditures shift en-      taken away from other activities.
                                                     forcement priorities somewhat, but they do
  • Total Federal support for policing by            not bring about substantial organizational       • Reliance on overtime in American polic-
  State and local governments has been               change.                                          ing may have harmful consequences that
  growing in the 1990s. Federal support for                                                           are not sufficiently considered by police
  overtime has also been growing, but is             • Although overtime expenditures by the          managers, such as exhaustion on the part
  difficult to estimate because expenditures         Department of Justice provide a genuine in-      of officers, unwillingness to provide any
  are scattered among so many agencies               crement in policing, analysis is needed to de-   service without a tangible reward, in-
  (Department of Justice, Department of              termine whether the increment is valuable        creased antagonism between supervisors
  Housing and Urban Development, Depart-             enough to be paid for at premium wages.          and line officers, and the undermining of
  ment of Transportation, Department of                                                               professionalism.
  the Treasury) and programs (Executive              • Police departments in the United States
  Office for Weed and Seed, Edward Byrne             vary enormously in the attention they pay to     • Overtime practices represent substan-
  Memorial State and Local Law Enforce-              overtime, their management of it, and their      tial possibilities for cost savings. Though
  ment Assistance Grant Program, Office              ability to produce information about it.         overtime can never be eliminated, it can
  of Community Oriented Policing Services).                                                           be more successfully controlled.
                                                     • Overtime should be viewed, within limits,
  • According to the study, the Department           as an unavoidable cost of policing. Overtime     • Publicizing the practices of police de-
  of Justice now accounts for approximately          charges cannot be eliminated altogether,         partments found to excel in regulating
  60 percent of the Federal Government’s             regardless of the number of police officers      overtime can contribute to improving
  expenditures on overtime by State and              employed, because of inevitable shift exten-     overtime management nationally.
  local law enforcement agencies.                    sions, court appearances, emergency situa-
                                                     tions, and contract requirements.                • The key to improving overtime man-
  • Federal expenditures by the Department                                                            agement is foresight on the part of senior
  of Justice invested in overtime by State and       • Reimbursing overtime in money is prefer-       officers, which requires attention to analy-
  local law enforcement agencies do not              able to reimbursing in compensatory time. Paid   sis, recordkeeping, and supervision.
  supplant local spending on police overtime.        overtime increases policing activities, while


continually ask about overtime in their              work done on paid overtime from work             The implication for recordkeeping is
departments?                                         done on unpaid, or compensatory, over-           that not only must records on paid
                                                     time. Work done on paid overtime gen-            time and compensatory time be kept,
Are overtime expenditures justi-                     erally increases policing activity, even         but also information on their respec-
fied in terms of the work being                      though paid at time and a half. The cost         tive uses, including the nature of the
done? Because overtime represents                    is borne by city councils as an addition         work forfeited to pay for compensatory
police work performed at premium                     to the police budget. Compensatory               time. These are called opportunity
rates—time and a half—managers                       time, on the other hand, represents less         costs—the costs of taking one action at
need the ability to determine whether                policing because every hour worked               the expense of another.
the same work could be performed at                  must be repaid by the department at
less cost on straight time. Thus, they               time and a half. Compensatory time               Do the police and the local govern-
need to know how much of their                       comes out of existing capacity. There-           ment have the capacity to pay for
agency’s work is being performed on                  fore, managers need to be able to deter-         overtime? Answering this question re-
overtime, what sort of work it is, and               mine whether the work performed on               quires police managers to know whether
the circumstances of its use.                        compensatory time is more important              they are “on budget” throughout the
                                                     than work being “scrimped” through               year, so as to avoid cost overruns and
When analyzing the cost-effectiveness                                                                 consequent political exposure. This
of overtime, it is critical to distinguish           the compensatory time payback.


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means managers need to know how                  in a timely manner, what is happening.      cies); holidays; briefings and roll calls;
much has been spent throughout the               To avoid embarrassment, police depart-      court appearances; callbacks to duty;
current fiscal year and how the rate of          ments need to analyze patterns of over-     emergencies such as homicides and
expenditure compares with previous               time expenditure—both as time and as        snowstorms; planned events beyond nor-
years. They should also examine current          money—by individuals, by units, and         mal duty, for example, traffic control at
expenditures against likely future con-          by the nature of the work performed.        venues; and meetings or training outside
tingencies; planning requires forecasting        Unusual payouts to individuals or units     of working hours.
overtime needs based on analyses of past         may indicate problems of organizational
                                                                                             Monitoring the opportunity costs associ-
patterns. Although some overtime ex-             management.
                                                                                             ated with compensatory overtime in-
penditures cannot be predicted, re-
                                                 In sum, if a police department is to        volves identifying those tasks that were
peated surprises indicate a lack of
                                                 manage overtime, it must be able to jus-    not carried out because officers were
analysis. As the philosopher George
                                                 tify expenditures in terms of the work      granted time and a half off. This track-
Santayana said, “People who do not
                                                 performed, to anticipate the rate and       ing is key to determining the true pub-
know the past are doomed to repeat it.”
                                                 amount of payouts, and to explain why       lic safety cost-effectiveness of claiming
Because compensatory time does not               overtime had to be paid to particular in-   overtime as time, rather than as money.
come out of existing budgetary alloca-           dividuals and units at particular times.    • Circumstances of overtime use.
tions, some police departments do not                                                        Knowing where, when, and under what
monitor its use as systematically as they        Recording overtime                          circumstances overtime was incurred is
do paid overtime. Compensatory time is                                                       necessary if managers are to anticipate
not costless. Unless police departments          To analyze the issues described above,
                                                                                             overtime, to justify its payment, and per-
keep close track of the amount of com-           the following records must be current:
                                                                                             haps to find ways to reduce the need for
pensatory time earned and paid back,             • A police department’s total obli-         overtime expenditures. For example, if
cities may suddenly face large unfunded          gations and payments for overtime,          overtime occurs chronically in particular
liabilities—financial payouts they have          both paid overtime and compensatory         units, then hiring additional officers or
not anticipated. In some departments of-         time.                                       reallocating existing personnel may
ficers who do not use their compensatory                                                     solve the problem. On the other hand, if
time can claim it as money at retirement.        • Obligations and expenditures of           overtime is concentrated at particular
Police departments also need to track            overtime by individual officers and         times of the year, hiring additional staff
accumulations of compensatory time by            commands or budgetary units—for ex-         would probably not be the solution.
individual officers, because departments         ample, investigations, traffic, patrol,
cannot require officers (under the Fair          and SWAT. Computer programs can             • Sources of overtime payments.
Labor Standards Act or their own labor           automatically notify managers when-         Records of such sources of overtime
agreements) to work more than specified          ever overtime obligations exceed speci-     funding as city councils, State govern-
maximums of compensatory time without            fied thresholds—for example, when a         ment, Federal Government, or private
being paid.2 Overtime beyond this                police officer earns more than 10 per-      consumers should be kept. When track-
amount must be paid as money. Police             cent of monthly salary or at a projected    ing city expenditures, it would be useful
departments need to know where they              yearly rate over $25,000, or when a         to separate overtime accounts from the
stand with respect to this obligation.           unit’s overtime budget is running 10        general fund, the police budget, and
                                                 percent ahead of the previous year’s        charges against the budgets of other mu-
Is overtime being abused? “Abused”               expenditures.                               nicipal agencies.
here is defined as being used in ways
                                                 • The uses of overtime. Setting up a        Not surprisingly, it appears that police
that cannot be justified and may cause
                                                 system that adequately captures the uses    departments invest resources in col-
embarrassment to the organization. Gen-
                                                 of overtime requires forethought because    lecting information primarily when it
erally, overtime abuses take the form of
                                                 relevant categories can vary with local     has clear fiscal significance. Of the
large, undetected overtime earnings by
                                                 conditions. The most common categories      police departments responding to the
individuals or units within a police de-
                                                 are holdovers or shift extensions; back-    overtime survey, the majority (69 per-
partment. Such abuses represent a fail-
                                                 filling or buybacks (that is, paying        cent) were able to provide all 5 years
ure of supervision, which in turn reflects
                                                 people on leave to fill temporary vacan-    of expenditure information (1990–94);
the inability of an organization to know,

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a much smaller percentage (38 per-                If the chief is indifferent about over-         sible to predict and require extraordi-
cent) was able to provide the number              time, the support systems—both human            nary outlays of effort. Police work also
of overtime hours worked.                         and technical—necessary to manage               inevitably generates court appearances,
                                                  overtime will be neglected. A chief’s           roll calls, meetings, and holidays. This
Respondents provided limited informa-             indifference will also leave middle             sort of overtime can be viewed as a
tion about overtime’s functional uses.            managers exposed—reluctant to go                fixed cost of normal policing and will
Among respondents who reported the                where the chief prefers not to tread, but       occur regardless of the number of offic-
total number of overtime hours, about             at risk if overtime problems occur.             ers employed. Overtime is not a discre-
40 percent accounted for all (or virtually                                                        tionary category that can simply be
all) of those hours by functional cat-            It is also important to be realistic about      managed out of existence. Policymakers
egory, while another 40 percent could             what management can achieve in con-             and the public should be wary about
account for about half. The limited abil-         trolling overtime. For example, some            judging the police according to unreal-
ity to monitor and report information             shift extensions are inevitable because         istic expectations.
about overtime appeared in police agen-           police officers generally work 8-hour
cies of all types (though sheriffs’ depart-       shifts, and time-consuming problems             Overtime is also critically affected by
ments in this study were somewhat less            can occur at any time. Sensational              labor rules—the “contract”—that man-
likely to be able to report overtime infor-       crimes or natural disasters are impos-          date uses and rates. Visits to police
mation, and State police agencies some-
what more likely) and occurred in all
regions of the country.
                                                            Dollars and Recordkeeping
Developing informative record systems
need not be a particularly daunting or
costly activity. Commitment seems to be
the critical ingredient. Record systems
                                                       I     n the one department surveyed in
                                                    which all overtime is compensated with
                                                                                                  could be analyzed in terms of the activities
                                                                                                  that were performed only by manually re-
                                                    dollars, rather than compensatory time,       viewing the paper forms that officers
can be put in place within a year or so,            we found one of the most complete and         completed.
with the largest cost probably being in-            sophisticated information systems for
curred for staff to input data. Depart-             monitoring overtime use.a In that depart-     In another department, overtime was typi-
ments can also make the transition more             ment, hours worked and dollars paid           cally compensated monetarily. However,
                                                    were tracked by organizational unit and       little overtime was incurred, partly be-
easily by adapting systems already de-
                                                    by function, and this information was up-     cause it had to be preauthorized by super-
veloped by other departments. Every
                                                    dated and disseminated to department          visors, and supervisors took steps to avoid
region of the country has exemplary                                                               overtime work. Given that overtime was
                                                    managers every 2 weeks.
departments that have developed proto-                                                            not considered a significant budgetary is-
cols for recording and analyzing data,              By contrast, another department, in which     sue, little information was computerized
programs that automatically provide                 much of the overtime was compensated          for analysis. Records of overtime were
managers with perspective on overtime.              with time off rather than money, had a        available, and particularly detailed records
(See “Dollars and Recordkeeping.”)                  much more limited capacity to monitor         of overtime incurred under the auspices
                                                    overtime. Numbers of hours worked by          of Federal grant programs were kept, but
                                                    individuals were tracked carefully within     they were not routinely compiled and
Managing overtime                                   each division over the course of each 28-     analyzed; the latter records were available
Again, it is important to note that man-            day work cycle, so that steps could be        in the event of a Federal audit.
aging is not a separate activity from               taken to minimize the likelihood that pa-
                                                                                                  a
                                                    trol officers would accrue hours for which      An equally complete and sophisticated
recording, analyzing, and supervising.                                                            information system was found in a de-
                                                    they must be compensated monetarily
Recording, analysis, and supervision                                                              partment that uses both compensatory
                                                    and at a higher (time and a half) rate. But
are required for successful overtime                                                              time and paid compensation. This depart-
                                                    the aggregate patterns of overtime work
management, but they must be man-                   were not monitored, and the only infor-       ment is widely regarded as one of the
aged so that useful knowledge is avail-             mation that could easily be retrieved         most progressively managed in the coun-
able to the managers who set overtime               (from payroll records) for analysis was in-   try. Furthermore, it is very concerned
policies. Responsible overtime manage-              formation on expenditures. Overtime           about the prospect of unfunded liabilities.
ment requires leadership from the top.


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departments revealed the following              doing so, given the political power of        departments, and 73 percent had
examples of contract stipulations with          unions, is small. Even in the case of shift   guidelines that specified the purposes
respect to overtime:                            extensions, the option exists for police to   for which overtime could be used.
                                                pass work to later shifts. All overtime is
• Any court appearance by an officer,           potentially manageable by someone, but        A more general solution, well beyond the
no matter how short, earned a fixed             the costs of doing so in some cases are       capacity of any police force to enact, is
minimum amount of overtime, as much             greater than the benefits. So, when de-       to abolish the 40-hour week as the basis
as 3 to 4 hours.                                partments say that some proportion of         for overtime, aggregating hour-maxi-
• Officers called back to work were             overtime is not controllable, they are        mums by months or years.3 This would
guaranteed a minimum of 2 hours of              making a judgment about options they          allow departments to require longer
overtime, no matter how long they               are willing to try. Their willingness may     hours of work for short periods without
actually worked.                                be based on entirely correct assessments      incurring overtime costs, compensating
                                                of what is likely to be achieved.             officers by less work during slack peri-
• Supervisors who were on standby in                                                          ods. In 1995, a U.S. Representative pro-
the event of an emergency earned a              Interviews with police officers nation-       posed hearings on the idea.4
minimum of 3 hours overtime.                    wide yielded several suggestions for
                                                policies to control overtime more tightly.    Staff size. Persistent backfilling, or em-
• Patrol officers were given between                                                          ploying off-duty officers to fill necessary
15 and 30 minutes of overtime each              Court appearances. Agreements be-             positions, indicates a chronic shortage of
shift for attending roll calls.                 tween police and court personnel could        personnel in relation to work needing to
• An officer waiting at home to be              improve overtime usage. For example,          be completed. Since local governments
called to court was allowed a fixed             policies could call for court appear-         determine the strength of police forces,
amount of overtime, on the premise              ances to coincide with usual working          this imbalance is generally beyond the
that the officer was forfeiting an oppor-       hours, rather than with time off. While       ability of departments to fix unless hiring
tunity to work at another job.                  officers are waiting to appear, they can      is allowed. Departments may, however,
                                                be given indoor work, such as staffing        be able to reduce the period of the im-
• All meetings outside the department
                                                property rooms, interviewing complain-        balance, and hence overtime, by short-
were charged to overtime.
                                                ants, preparing shift rosters, or answer-     ening the time needed to recruit and
In the survey, 45 percent of police             ing questions on the telephone. In            train new police officers. Departments
departments reported that overtime              addition, district attorneys can be asked     may even consider using civilians, vol-
was governed by collective bargaining           to subpoena only those officers listed on     unteers, or police academy students in
agreements; 39 percent said that such           arrest reports whose testimony might be       nonenforcement lines of police work,
agreements applied specifically to              important. There is no reason for super-      thereby freeing experienced personnel
patrol personnel, which is the largest          visory personnel to appear in courts,         for tasks requiring powers of arrest or
specialty among police officers.                since their testimony would be hearsay.       those where minimum staffing levels
                                                Police can be asked not to list supervi-      must be maintained.
Some departments have tried to divide           sory personnel on incident reports and
overtime expenses according to whether          arrest warrants.                              Emergency mobilizations. By care-
they are controllable—probably a fruit-                                                       fully studying all unplanned emergency
less exercise. The issue generally is not       Shift extensions. Responsibility for          mobilizations, departments can deter-
whether a particular form of overtime is        approving shift extensions rests with         mine how best to use existing capacity
controllable, but rather by whom and at         immediate supervisors. Managers can           and thereby minimize callbacks or
what cost. Contract stipulations, for in-       assist immediate supervisors by pro-          extensions. Emergencies require over-
stance, are frequently treated as uncon-        viding them with updated and revised          time, but they do not justify unlimited
trollable. This may be true from line           guidelines for approving shift exten-         overtime. To some degree, overtime can
supervisors’ point of view, but not from        sions, as well as by reviewing their          be minimized in emergency situations
the view of senior managers who are             performances periodically. Survey re-         by fine-tuning responses and making
responsible for contract negotiations.          sults show that immediate supervisors         them more efficient, as well as by
Contract provisions are controllable in         were authorized to approve overtime in        building the capacity to handle contin-
principle, even though the likelihood of        91 percent of the responding police           gencies that singly are unpredictable


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but in the aggregate are not. These pos-         fearful of embarrassing public revela-         individual officers are posted publicly
sibilities are probably more likely for          tions, concerned managers are learning         at regular intervals. We visited several
large departments, which can often de-           valuable lessons about managing over-          departments using this method. Know-
velop such procedures more easily than           time. Unfortunately, this knowledge is         ing that overtime will be scrutinized by
small departments, because unpredict-            not being systematically collected and         their peers, officers will be careful that
able events occur in greater numbers in          shared within the profession, which does       extra hours claimed are justifiable in
their jurisdictions and therefore can be         not generally know which departments           operational terms.
“averaged” on a yearly basis. In a small         are the benchmarks for overtime man-
department, on the other hand, events            agement. Hence, a national canvas of           Successful management of police over-
such as a sensational murder may occur           techniques for managing overtime could         time requires assistance outside police
once every 20 years.                             be worthwhile to practitioners.                departments. At present, police manag-
                                                                                                ers often fear that providing outsiders,
Special events. Departments often                                                               such as city councils and the media,
                                                 Supervising overtime
pay officers overtime for handling spe-                                                         with information about overtime prac-
cial events, such as crowd control at            Supervision of overtime is often seen as       tices will expose the department to
festivals or traffic at sporting events.         the first line of defense against overtime     unfair criticism. This is one reason
Because these are episodic, it is not            abuses. Middle-rank commanders ev-             why some departments are reluctant to
cost effective to maintain capacity to           erywhere complained that one of their          implement computer-based monitoring
handle them. If these events are pri-            major responsibilities is controlling          and online analysis of overtime. Police
vately sponsored, departments might              overtime. They believe it is critical to       managers should realize, however, that
consider requiring sponsors to pay the           how they are judged as commanders. In          factual information about overtime, if it
costs of policing as a condition for             fact, front-line supervision of overtime       is properly explained, can strengthen
granting a permit. Many large cities             is the last line of defense, and supervi-      their position in advocating needed
now require event sponsors to complete           sors are often made the scapegoats for         reforms both inside and outside their or-
official statements regarding the effect         more general failures of management.           ganization. Managers have more to fear
of special events on police duties. The          Most of the factors that determine over-       from lack of information than from too
Madison, Wisconsin, police depart-               time are beyond the control of any             much. Gradually, information in
ment, for example, requires that a po-           middle-rank manager, such as contract          the public domain about overtime will
lice impact statement be filed as part of        regulations, calls for service, crime          expand. Some cities now regularly report
the permit process. In addition, cities          emergencies, vacations, injuries, retire-      all forms of overtime to city councils and
and police departments should develop            ments, and approval for special events.        even encourage the media to publish
policies about when the costs of polic-                                                         their departmental pattern analyses.
ing special events are to be publicly or         Although first-line supervisors formally
privately borne. This may be a touchy            approve overtime, in some departments          City councils and other outside auditors
political matter. For example, some lo-          their ability to refuse is restricted. More-   should also understand that overtime
cal ordinances (strongly supported by            over, in many departments first-line           cannot be effectively controlled by front-
police unions) require police, rather            supervisors are frequently not given the       line supervisors. They should not allow
than private security, to work such              information needed to anticipate de-           senior officers to pass the responsibility
events. Finally, work schedules of po-           mands and adjust work schedules. With          for managing overtime to junior officers.
lice could be adjusted, if permitted by          inadequate recordkeeping and analysis,         Councils and the media could be edu-
contract regulations, so that officers can       supervisors cannot control overtime, they      cated, most likely by police themselves,
accumulate slack time that can later be          can only audit it. The control of overtime     about the elements of an effective over-
allocated for policing predictable man-          looks to be decentralized, but in reality it   time management system. Analytic re-
power-intensive events.                          is not; it is structured by policies set at    ports of overtime could provide police
                                                 more senior levels or from outside the         managers with information to explain to
We determined from site visits that po-          police force altogether.                       others the limits on their ability to con-
lice departments throughout the country                                                         trol overtime and to construct a fact-
are experimenting with ways to minimize          Overtime can also be supervised by the         based division of responsibilities
the burden of overtime. Frustrated by            officers themselves through peer pres-         between themselves and city councils.
the rigidities of current practice and           sure if amounts of overtime worked by          Police managers have more to gain from

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                                R   e   s    e    a    r   c    h         i   n         B   r     i    e      f

making overtime information available            time Final Report.” Madison, WI: Police    Nathan, Richard P. 1982. “The Methodol-
and visible than from keeping it hidden.         Department.                                ogy of Field Network Evaluation Studies.”
                                                 Executive Office for Weed and Seed.        In Studying Implementation: Methodologi-
Additional References                            1992. Operation Weed and Seed Imple-       cal and Implementation Issues, ed. Walter
                                                 mentation Manual. Washington, DC:          Williams. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House
Balles, Joe, et al. May 17, 1989. “City of                                                  Publishers, Inc.
                                                 U.S. Department of Justice.
Madison Police Department Overtime
Project.” Madison, WI: Police Department.        Goldstein, Herman. 1990. Problem-Ori-      United States General Accounting Office.
                                                 ented Policing. New York: McGraw-Hill.     April 1993. War on Drugs: Federal Assis-
Bureau of Justice Statistics. September                                                     tance to State and Local Drug Enforce-
1995. Law Enforcement Management and             Kelling, George L., and Mark H. Moore.     ment. Washington, DC: GAO/
Administrative Statistics, 1993: Data for        1988. The Evolving Strategy of Policing.   GGD–93–86.
Individual State and Local Agencies with         Washington, DC: National Institute of
100 or More Officers. Washington, DC:            Justice.                                   Notes
Bureau of Justice Statistics.
                                                 Madison Police Department. June 1993.      1. The authors would like to thank Professor Hal
DiIulio, John, Jr., Steven K. Smith, and         “Report of the Police Department Over-     Gueutal, School of Business, The University at Albany,
                                                                                            State University of New York, and his graduate students
Aaron J. Saiger. 1995. “The Federal Role         time Study Committee.” Madison, WI: Po-    for searching the economic and business literature.
in Crime Control.” In Crime, ed. James Q.        lice Department.                           2. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, an officer who
Wilson and Joan Petersilia. San Fran-                                                       agrees to work compensatory time in lieu of cash cannot
                                                 Nathan, Richard P. 1983. “State and        accumulate more than 480 hours during a lifetime. Many
cisco, CA: ICS Press.                                                                       union contracts stipulate more restrictive maximums.
                                                 Local Governments Under Federal
                                                                                            3. Mazur, Laura, “Coming: The Annual Workweek,”
Elliot, John, Timothy J. Fisher, Kay             Grants: Toward a Predictive Theory.”       Across the Board (April 1995): 42–45.
Hutchison, and Neil Turner. December             Political Science Quarterly 98 (Spring):   4. Laabs, Jennifer, “The Changing Workplace Stirs
18, 1988. “City of Madison Police Over-          47–57.                                     Up Overtime Pay Debate,” Personnel Journal (April
                                                                                            1995): 12.
                                                                                            Findings and conclusions of the research re-
   This study was conducted by David             Copies of the full report of the           ported here are those of the authors and do not
                                                                                            necessarily reflect the official position or poli-
   H. Bayley, Ph.D., and Robert E.               study, Federal Funding of Police           cies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
   Worden, Ph.D., from the School of             Overtime: A Utilization Study, are
   Criminal Justice, The University at                                                          The National Institute of Justice is a component
                                                 available from the National Crimi-
                                                                                                of the Office of Justice Programs, which also
   Albany, State University of New               nal Justice Reference Service                  includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the
   York. This research was supported             (NCJRS) on a cost-recovery basis.              Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Office of
   by the National Institute of Justice,         To order, call NCJRS at 800–851–               Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention,
   U.S. Department of Justice, through           3420 and ask for NCJ 170614.                   and the Office for Victims of Crime.
   grant number 95–IJ–CX–0020.
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