Police overtime to get the knife
Posted in the Easton Forum
#1 Apr 21, 2013
BRIDGEPORT -- Call it James Nardozzi's $3 million performance evaluation.
Mayor Bill Finch's administration hired the assistant police chief in November specifically to rein in the overtime racked up by Bridgeport's Finest.
The 427-person department is projecting it could be $2 million over the current $5.4 million overtime budget when the fiscal year ends in late June.
Nardozzi plans to drive that deficit down. But even if he succeeds, Finch expects more progress next year. The mayor wants to give police $1 million less --$4.4 million -- in overtime in 2013-14.
Councilman Susan Brannelly, D-130, said after meeting last week with Nardozzi and his boss, Chief Joseph Gaudett, she is optimistic.
"(Nardozzi) seems to be the guy who is a dog with a bone -- thorough and thoughtful," Brannelly said.
As a budget committee co-chairman, she and her colleagues are combing through the mayor's proposed spending plan looking for ways to avoid Finch's average,$400-per-household tax increase.
Overtime has historically only gone up, no matter how much money is budgeted to force the police department to live within its means.
But Nardozzi and Gaudett last week assured council members they are taking tough measures to control the expenses and discipline overtime abuse without jeopardizing public safety.
"We believe the amount the mayor's recommended is an amount we can live in,"Gaudett said.
To begin with, as of late January the chief made it more difficult for his officers to rack up the hours.
"Overtime has been canceled," Gaudett said. "There's no overtime unless it's preapproved by myself or the assistant chief, with very few exceptions. The message to the department is there is no money left in the checkbook."
Nardozzi monitors overtime daily, and any requests require more detailed explanations than were previously submitted. The department is also working to implement new computer systems to better analyze overtime in the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Budget Committee Chairman Angel dePara Jr., D-136, asked Gaudett if the chief could provide some data sooner "so we're able to better put together a realistic and responsible budget."
"The short answer is no," Gaudett said.
Some council members questioned how realistic stricter overtime limits are for some units in the department, like the detectives who work long hours closing cases. The budget committee wanted to know if Gaudett could discuss areas where the overtime limits might be more flexible.
"Everybody (every unit) thinks they need a lot of overtime," Gaudett said. "It's our job to manage that."
The chiefs have also targeted abuse of sick leave. Under the new policy, any officers who exceed five sick days over the course of 12 months cannot receive overtime for 30 days.
Nardozzi said so far eight officers have had their overtime privilege suspended, and 26 others have been warned. The department did not provide further details on the alleged abuse.
"We don't have any extra officers, to be quite honest with you," he said. "We have been extra vigilant on monitoring sick-time usage."
And the chiefs are also working with the city law department to "forcibly retire" a handful of police who have taken extended sick leave. Again, no specific details on those personnel matters were provided.
The police department does have 19 new officers who will also help relieve overtime later this year. However, they remain on probation and must be accompanied by a colleague during field training.
New Councilman Steven Stafstrom, D-130, whose waterfront Black Rock district would be hit the hardest by tax hikes, told Gaudett he does not understand why overtime is required whenever an officer takes a sick day.
Stafstrom said the department could perhaps be more flexible with use of manpower.
Gaudett agreed and said that is a major goal of the ongoing contract negotiations with the police union.
Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Police-ov...
Since: Aug 10
#2 Apr 21, 2013
We knew that Finch was a crook from day one.
Since: Aug 10
#3 May 3, 2013
It is about time to cut police overtime.
#4 May 4, 2013
I always keep my overtime on back up disc
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