Acting Police Chief Gives City Council OT Explanation
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 • 2:51pm
PATERSON, NJ – The City Council approved $117,330 in police overtime payments Tuesday night after acting police chief William Fraher explained the expenses.
City Council Finance Chairman Kenneth Morris said the latest overtime payment put the police department about $380,000 above the amount allocated for overtime in its budget. That figure was $1,286,209.
Fraher told the city council most of the department’s overtime stemmed from “short-staffing” in the after math of last year’s layoff of 125 police officers. The layoffs resulted in staff cuts of 60 percent in the police department’s investigative units in order to keep a full patrol force on duty, Fraher said.
But the investigative units have been busy, the acting chief said. There have been 15 shootings in the past six weeks, he said. “Fifteen shootings in a month and a half is a lot of shootings,’’ Fraher said. “We’ve had 11 in June alone. It comes when it comes.’’
Several months ago, council members had asked that any new police overtime be approved in advance. But Fraher indicated that wasn’t practical. “You can’t ask for permission at 4 o’clock in the morning when someone’s been shot,’’ he said.
On average, a murder requires between $12,000 and $15,000 in overtime to investigate, Fraher said. And the city handles its non-fatal shootings with almost the same commitment, the acting chief said.
“I’m a penny-pinching kind of guy,’’ Fraher told the council. “I don’t like to spend the taxpayers’ money any more than I like to spend my own.’’
Morris said the $300,000 in police overtime recently approved by the council could have been used to hire as many as seven full-time police officers.
Councilman Andre Sayegh asked how the impending rehiring of 37 police officers would affect overtime spending. Fraher said he could give city officials a more detailed answer to that question during a private meeting, to avoid disclosing confidential police manpower decisions in public.
On Friday, 37 of the police officers laid off last year are scheduled to take the oath of office and they are supposed to resume work next week.