An audit conducted by Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson revealed that overtime hours clocked by Chicago Police Department officers has grown at an astronomical rate between 2014 and 2016.
According to the Chicago Tribune, no record or authorization was found in $27.6 million in overtime. More than 90% of overtime entries were recorded with either blank or generic reasons for the overtime, totaling $225.5 million.
The department still relies on antiquated pen-and-paper format (while many departments nationwide have moved to electronic filing) which requires 61 timekeepers costing $7.2 million a year.
“That’s a lot of money. That’s a lot of tax payer money, a lot of taxpayer money going to the most important functions that are performed in this city by the police department, and so controls are fundamentally necessary,” City of Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson said, according to ABC 7.
But the audit is not without its critics.
Alderman Anthony Napolitano of the 41st Ward, which covers sections of Edison Park, Norwood Park, O’Hare and Edgebrook, is a former police officer and firefighter. According the the Sun-Times he called the audit a “crock of b.s.”
“We don’t have enough officers. They’re working their butts off to try and save a city with a ridiculous crime rate. Now, we’re saying, `You’re stealing money from the city.’ Do you want them to make arrests? Do you want them to destroy crime or don’t you? Pick one side or the other. Either tell them you want them to work hard and lock up the criminals or tell them to go home when the bell rings.”
Ferguson has defended the audit by saying he is looking out for officer safety. Overtime can lead to fatigue which increases “the likelihood that officers will be injured on the job, (will get) involved in vehicle accidents or exercise poor judgment under stress.”
The city of Chicago is still taking applications for new officers.