MORE POLICE ESCORTS: Detail doubled to hold down overtime.

MORE POLICE ESCORTS: Detail doubled to hold down overtime.

Police Chief Keith Humphrey’s response to a Little Rock City Board request for information on police overtime included the disclosure that the new police escort service for Mayor Frank Scott Jr. has been increased from two to four full-time officers. It’s said to be an effort to hold down overtime.

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This subject might come up at the Board budget discussion set to begin at 4 p.m. today.

The chief’s memo said the department had spent 43 percent, or about $982,000 of the $2 million police overtime budget in the first four and a half months of the year (Jan. 1-May 10). But the chief also noted that the department had exceeded overtime budgets in 2016-2018.

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Humphrey explained reasons for the overtime, with emphasis added at the end:

*Currently there are 19 recruits in academy, 17 current commissioned vacancies (with the potential of this increasing to 27 by the end of 2019), and 20 officers on extended leave

*Although the overtime budget has not increased, some personnel in step and grade systems continue to see increased salaries, which impact overtime.
*Officers assigned to midnights are summoned to court between the hours of 8:00 am- 5:00 pm.
*Public Affairs has seen a substantial increase in FOIA requests.
* Personnel must back fill for those officers on extended leave

* Communications has both new hires and a large number of vacancies, which contributes to increased overtime due to training new staff while being short-staffed.
* During the hiring process, more background investigations are being conducted leading to longer hours for staff

* Internal Affairs Division is experiencing an increase in requests for personnel records or information related to cases investigated
* Critical incidents in which all specialized units are required to respond

I am confident that supervisors are making strong attempts to effectively manage the department’s overtime budget. This is a topic that is discussed and reviewed on a regular basis.  We will continue to monitor in an attempt to remain within budget. We project that with continued monitoring and our current staffing shortages, we can expect to exceed our overtime budget by 15% by the end of the year.

* Staff to determine if there is a more cost-efficient way to provide the necessary security to the Mayor.

Our Department selected two additional police officers for the Mayor’s Security Detail, bringing a total of four full-time police officers, which will assist in curtailing the overtime for this special assignment.

Because of unspecified security concerns (the police said they had no reports with specific threats against the mayor), a security detail of two officers was assigned to him in late April. The previous mayor, Mark Stodola, drove himself. In addition to taking two officers from major crimes work, the detail uses a 2019 leased SUV.  Fox 16 reported that the two officers had amassed $6,000 in overtime in their first three weeks at work, through mid-May.

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The breakdown provided on police spending doesn’t separate the pay and overtime and other costs for the mayor’s police detail. They drive and accompany the mayor on official rounds and also to events into the evening, such as dinner engagements. Four detective-level officers and a leased vehicle, including city overhead for officer pay, seem likely to put the cost of the security detail in the range of $250,000 a year.