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Police OT tops $100K for 2012
MONROE - More than half of the city's annual overtime pay goes to one department - the Monroe Police Department.

The city spent $205,200 for overtime pay in 2012. Of that amount, $105,000 was for police officers and detectives and another $15,000 was for dispatchers.

But overtime is not a surprise in the department's budget, according to Police Chief Fred Kelley.

"I usually budget about $115,000 each year for overtime," Kelley said.

No one in the department is immune to catching overtime. The hours are spread across the department, Kelley said.

More than 900 overtime hours went into cases, and overtime spent in court was almost 80 hours. Even the canine unit was called into overtime for more than 110 hours. Those amounts fluctuate each year, depending on the number and types of cases the department faces, Kelley said.

Mandatory training is scheduled during regular hours, but another 500 hours went into overtime.

Officers assigned to the State Line Area Narcotics Team (SLANT) needed 255 hours of overtime. "Shift shorts" caused by vacation and sick leave took 160 overtime hours; dispatch required 400 hours; and transports needed 140 hours last year.

About 130 overtime hours go into police programs, such as D.A.R.E., Explorers and mandatory exams. School events, including games, used 100 hours of overtime.

More than 720 hours went to other overtime duties, mostly for police control at special community events, Kelley said.

For these extra duties, the department used to be reimbursed from the organizations holding the events. City guidelines created in 2008 required police at events that served alcohol or had paid admissions.

But in July 2010, the council voted 7-3 for the city to pick up the tab for all police services required at special events, particularly when alcohol is served or traffic control is needed.

The new no-billing directive created a conflict for the police department, because the Salary and Personnel Committee had cut out its overtime budget that year.

"If there is one thing causing the police budget to go over budget, it's special events," Kelley said at the time.

Kelley said his overtime budget has been mostly restored, and has ranged from $100,000 to $115,000 annually for the past 15 years.

Among the events receiving free police presence and creating overtime pay in 2012 were a tractor pull, 48 hours; balloon rally, 38 hours; and county fair events, 94 hours. Alcohol was served at these events.

Cheese Days 2012 required 521 hours in Monroe Police Department overtime. The city also spent $5,500 in additional mutual aid by law enforcement from other communities.

In 2008, extra officers for Cheese Days cost $7,000, and the Monroe Police Department spent $17,900 in overtime pay.

Kelley said he has seen more special events being added to the list since 2010. For instance, Main Street Monroe is planning for nine Concerts on the Square events, a chili cook-off and a summer event kickoff in 2013, all of which will require police presence, Kelley said.

"Whenever there is a potential for things associated with alcohol, like fights or rowdiness, we address security," he said.

Kelley said people do not perceive there is a problem at events with alcohol consumption, and normally there aren't many problems.

"But we don't have problems," Kelley said, "because we have so many officers present."

Kelley is expected to ask the city to fill two empty positions in his department this year, one of which will spend more time patrolling in and around the schools. Filling the two positions will bring the police force back up to 26 members, where it has been for over a decade, Kelley said.

But even filling those positions will not address all the overtime needs, he added.