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Overtime for Police, Fire Budgeted at Highest Level in Four Years

Police union president says town needs to hire more men; mayor maintains overtime is unpredictable.

 

Taxpayer money earmarked for police and fire department overtime this year is the highest it has been in the past four years. 

There is about $1.1 million budgeted for overtime costs for the police department in the 2012 budget. The fire department is also budgeted for $750,000 in overtime costs. 

Compared to 2009, this marks an increase of 85 percent in budgeted police overtime, and a jump of 150 percent for budgeted fire department overtime, according to township documents. 

Christopher Jacksic, president of the West Orange police union, PBA Local 25, said he did not doubt that the police department is on pace to exceed $1 million in overtime this year. Jacksic said he correlated the rise in overtime costs for the department to the need for more police officers. 

“I am surprised they [the township] are willing to spend that kind of money for overtime when even the hiring of a few officers can combat the overtime and get nowhere near that $1.1 million dollar [figure],” said Jacksic. “ ... There is a reason for the overtime: we are not meeting our minimum manpower staffing.” 

Police officers who work overtime get paid at a rate of time and a half. Those hours can be paid immediately or as accrued time, which can be used in the future or for retirement. 

In previous years, overtime appears to have been under budgeted, and did not accurately reflect what the township paid at the end of the year. 

For example, in 2009 there was $600,000 budgeted for the police department, but the township eventually paid out approximately $1.06 million in overtime. The same can be said for the fire department: in 2011 the budgeted $500,000 fell short of the actual $856,983.03 paid out that year. 

Mayor Robert Parisi, responding to the issue of overtime, said the number of employees is not what drives overtime costs. He said that overtime costs are dependent upon a host of variables from year to year, many of which cannot be predicted. 

“[Overtime] has ebbed and flowed with circumstances and it hasn’t necessarily been any correlation to the number of cops we have had,” said Parisi.  

Parisi pointed out that in 2009, overtime was nearly as high as it was in 2011 but the police department had about 119 cops. 

Unforeseeable circumstances -- including weather related events such as  or a , or police investigations such as homicides or fires -- can augment overtime costs substantially in a short period of time, said Parisi.  

“There are so many factors that lead into [overtime] that you really can’t look at one item as a driving factor," said Parisi. 

The police department currently has 92 employees, down from its high in 2006 of 122, according to township figures. The department also has four vacant positions which will not be filled before the end of the year, said Parisi. 

Jacksic maintained that the police department is struggling to adequately patrol the township with its current staff. 

“With the shortage in officers on the street, we need to fill those spots,” said Jacksic. “We can’t patrol the town without sufficient manpower, and they have to supply those spots with overtime.”

Parisi said the township is committed to patrolling with the same number of police officers it currently has, and added that overtime is necessary to accomplish that. 

“The same number of cops serving the community is the same,” said Parisi, “so to fill those positions ... you have less people in the table of organization so overtime runs a little high.

Joe Krakoviak was the only council member to discuss overtime pay before the budget was passed . “I want to make sure the police out on the street are rested and not ... taking on too many double shifts or too much overtime,” said Krakoviak.  

West Orange Police Chief James Abbott confirmed at Tuesday’s council meeting that the department has used "forced overtime" to fill shifts. Abbott was unable to provide how often forced overtime is used because he said the department does not keep track of those figures. 

 

Police Department Overtime

Budgeted Actual costs Year
2009 $600,000 $1,067,930.75 2010 $750,000 $808,115.98 2011 $750,000 $1,074,720.31 2012 $1,110,143.57     (Projected) $1,069,507.30 Fire Department Overtime    Budgeted Actual costs Year
2009 $300,000       $593,724.61 2010 $300,000 $686,351.61       2011 $500,000 $856,983.08 2012 $750,000             (Projected) $758,630.36
Sharif August 23, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Auxilary police can help with patrol and the budget while helping a law enforcement enthusiasts career with a jump
Paul Reiz August 23, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Auxiliary is a great idea ! But there's one problem with that in WO. They don't let them carry guns, who would want to volunteer to help fight crime with being able to protect your self. Not me
Sharif August 23, 2012 at 02:35 PM
They only would have the powers of detecting and reporting the crimes. Their presence would be the most important thing, because it would be felt as if they were sworn officers. It doesn't have to be volunteer because instead of paying these sworn officers in wo working now overtime which is around 45/hr, you could pay an auxiliary officer 15/hr plus. Which could help the budget problem. As far as auxiliary officers in life threatening danger, we live in an area where there is crime, but not first or second degree crimes to the point they shooting or assaulting officers. So auxiliary department could take more of the quiet streets from the department, low crime spots, while the cops keep their hands busy with the more violent criminal action. The main key here is more patrol presence. After that it's all about what officers should go where, police management. Fairfield has a paid auxiliary program that I've heard is suppose to have helped them pretty well. Other towns are supplementing them into the department to cover light posts like courtrooms and traffic, while sworn officers work the busier assignments.
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 02:50 PM
One must wonder what the PBA's position might be if, in a more perfect world, none of it's members were paid a penny in overtime? For most everyone, +/-$10,000 in annual compensation above one's base salary would be more than welcome...and one would hate to lose it once becoming accustomed to having it.
Sharif August 23, 2012 at 03:01 PM
That's true but these guys are being constantly mandated cause theirs just not enough manpower. Think of how police officers attitude toward observation on that second 8hr would be if their constantly being being pulled to work overtime. Having it available is great, but constantly putting officers mentally fatigued on patrol can cause problems with work productivity.
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Sharif: Police officers being ordered to work overtime is nothing new and covered in their collective bargaining agreement as a condition of employment. It is incumbent upon the supervisors to assess their subordinates fitness for duty (or continued duty) and it is also an officer's fiduciary responsibility to self-assess his/her own fitness. If one is too tired/fatigued/sick to perform, then the shouldn't be on the job and a mechanism exists to deal with it all.
Sharif August 23, 2012 at 03:27 PM
What is your opinion on how we can target these robberies
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Sharif: I am not a law enforcement professional and wouldn't start offering operational advice about a discipline I have no expertise in but, I have full faith in the professionalism of the WOPD and that they are doing what is right and necessary. What we all need to do is to exercise good judgment and common sense concerning our own personal security (and that of our families) and not panic or think the sky is falling when we hear that some crime has occurred.
Sharif August 23, 2012 at 03:43 PM
You don't live near the downtown area nor are you a gas attendant with the probability of being robbed in this town. We have issues that are upgrading to those of the urban areas around. I'm not reading about these crimes happening more consistently in the more affluent areas. Why
wohopeful August 23, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Thank you Mr. Krakoviak for your voice of reason and concern for the safety and welfare of the hard working residents of West Orange. Apparently the other members of the council have not been apprised of the increase in criminal activities in WO and are buying into the further reductions Mayor Parisi has planned for ouyr police department. And this all comes at a price not only in terms of overtime costs but those residents who are being kiled, attacked and traumatized by these criminals with the support of Mayor Parisi.
Tom G. August 23, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Cam someone clarify the fire department overtime? Is this due to firefighters getting paid overtime while others are on vacation? It's not clear to me. I'm not aware of any increase in fire emergencies in town over the last few years. As for crime prevention, we should not be solely relying on the police department. We need to look out for our neighbors and perhaps have more formal neighborhood watch groups - which comes at no cost to residents.
Brett Kaiser August 23, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I pumped gas at the ALERT on EagleRock and Prospect in the early 80's..I didn't get robbed, but they sure as hell did...AND the manglement just said to not argue and hand over the Cash (No Debit Cards Back then...LOTS of Cash). >> Mr. Krakoviak for your voice of reason Are you allowed to say that in the same sentence? >> And this all comes at a price not only in terms of overtime costs but those residents who are being kiled, attacked and traumatized by these criminals with the support of Mayor Parisi. OK Bonehead, I would imagine that you just crossed the line, and legal action can be taken against you for a comment like that.
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Tom G: Long story short (whether police or fire) overtime is generally a function of maintaining minimum staffing levels due to sick call outs, vacations and what have you. There are some anomalies (for example, weather emergencies) that result in overtime, as well. While there is a point of diminishing returns, it's generally cheaper to pay overtime than to hired additional personnel to try and reduce or eliminate it. Add one or two people and there's still no guarantee that they will be available precisely when and where you might need them...and someone else will still get the call and overtime will be paid.
Gary Englert August 23, 2012 at 04:29 PM
^ Repetitive anonymous nonsense.
john anthony prignano August 23, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Recently, an on - duty Trenton cop was caught sleeping in his car . He had just finished his "side job ". A Patch writer said she saw on- duty WO police officers asleep in their cars.. Many years ago, someone walked into the Garfield police station .and found everyone asleep. The CDC estimates 40% of police officers suffer from some form of a sleep disorder. I believe many cops don't suffer from sleep disorders, but rather from sleep deprivation .There was a story in the Star Ledger about a Newark fireman who boxed professionally for 15 years .He also drove a delivery truck and a school bus . " The only time I could sleep was at the firehouse " he said.Taking jobs from the taxpayers, and then sleeping on their dime . Ban moonlighting ! 100k+ salaries ,as much as 10% of their base pay in longevity pay,and 10k in overtime .Some of the overtime is forced. Stress, danger, forced overtime,energy sapping shift work in every kind of weather.....then they go work a private - sector job. Police say they need the money .Who doesn't. On average ,they make more than twice what the average New Jerseyan earns. They don't need the money, so much as they need courses in money management. Rest ! Stay fit and let your employers have jobs.Years ago, I saw a great example of the NEW ORDER. A Police Lieutenant was working security at a Chuckie Cheese.He was probably making 4 or 5 times the money the employees were making . The employees who pay him,. and who can't find decent paying jobs.
Joe Krakoviak August 23, 2012 at 08:54 PM
While I appreciate the vote of support on this issue from wohopeful, I don't agree with any comment that suggests that the mayor is supporting the criminals. That's certainly not in his thinking. Comments such as this that attack the person, even an elected official, personally, unnecessarily poison the debate and harm our sense of community and civility. Please argue the facts, actions and opinions, not the person.
Dan August 23, 2012 at 10:32 PM
@Councliman Krakoviak, wohopeful is probably not someone you want to appreciate support from. He took the widely known username of a person on the NJ.com forum and decided to use it here in an attempt to embarrass her. In addition to that, most, if not all of his arguments and points are without any basis in fact or the understanding of what it is to have a decent and non-malicious conversation. I appreciate your work for our town, so I wanted to warn you about this loon.

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