Honolulu police overtime procedures are inconsistent and ineffective, city audit finds
Over a five-year period, overtime at the Honolulu Police Department increased nearly 166% between fiscal year 2016 and 2020. But the department’s overtime policy is largely inconsistent, according to a new city audit.
“Ineffective overtime management” has allowed for an uneven distribution and an increase in errors, abuse and fraud within the system, the audit says.
HPD maintains handwritten tally sheets that are manually maintained for more than 2,100 authorized officers, which City Auditor Arushi Kumar called “large and difficult to monitor.”
“The integrity of manual supplemental timesheets,” writes Kumar, is at risk of being misinterpreted, altered, falsified, or simply lost.
And that’s exactly what a spot check found.
“Our review revealed that many timecards are missing, timecard details are unclear, and overtime may not be recorded in the PT&A (compensation, time, and attendance) system or may be paid without sufficient documentation,” the audit said.
Of 1,327 scorecards retrieved between fiscal year 2016 and fiscal year 2020, the auditor found that an unsubstantiated amount of $29,982 was paid to HPD staff without proper documentation.
“…[We] challenge the risk of human error which could also lead to fraud, waste or abuse of HPD’s current overtime process,” the audit states.
The department allocates overtime each fiscal year, but often exceeds its budgeted figures. In fiscal year 2020, the department allocated approximately 170,932 hours, but an additional 433,968 hours were used.
From a database of overtime hours worked during the years studied, the auditors identified the 10 highest overtime earners.
Together, they received 76,726 overtime hours, for a total of $4.049 million paid out over five years.
The undisclosed top earner racked up $616,266 for nearly 13,487 overtime hours over the five years. The money did not include the base salary.
As for pension commitments, HPD’s top 11 overtime earners will receive an average of $575,000. This equates to between 5.3 and 6 million dollars.
Overtime is the main tool to address shortages caused by special assignments, retirements and low recruitment to meet minimum staffing levels.
But with no limits on how much overtime an officer can work, “officer fatigue” is a listener concern, citing sleep deprivation surveys and a study by the National Institute of Justice Journal. .
The NIJJ study found that overworked officers are likely to use more sick leave, use inappropriate force, be involved in collisions and have a higher likelihood of dying while working.
Of these top 11 overtime earners, three officers were involved in at-fault motor vehicle collisions and all officers received at least one administrative complaint.
The HPD attributed the increase in overtime to the increase in the minimum patrol staff and the high number of vacancies. But overtime also does not cover minimum staffing levels, the audit found.
To improve overtime policies, the auditors recommend standardizing policies and procedures for all districts, using an electronic system and assessing minimum staff.
Acting HPD Police Chief Rade Varnic called the audit “full and fair” in a May 25 letter to Kumar.
“The use of overtime to perform the most basic function of any police department, responding to 911 calls, is an indictment of the failed policies that have gotten us to this point,” the Organization’s union said. Hawaii State Police officers in a statement. .
SHOPO pointed to years of overtime, lack of recruitment and retention. With new chef Arthur “Joe” Logan taking office, SHOPO offered its support.
“HPD has lost over 300 officers, and we hope that new Chief Logan will work with stakeholders to encourage eligible retired officers to stay and develop a plan to recruit qualified officers to replace those who are departing,” said SHOPO. “We hope this audit is an impetus to act with a sense of urgency.”
The city auditor’s recommendations are consistent with a November 2020 Honolulu Police Commission authorized interaction group that reviewed departmental overtime and the restructuring of departmental duties. This report highlighted low staffing levels, high overtime, and high reports of abuse and retirements.
Read the full city audit below or click here to open a new tab.