Milwaukee police are racking up far more overtime than officers in similar-size cities with smaller police departments – enough overtime to pay the salaries of nearly 400 more officers, says a new audit reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Detectives are averaging 385 hours a year, led by night shift investigators who are averaging 500 to 600 hours of overtime annually, the equivalent of working 12 to 15 extra weeks.
With police overtime rising 28 percent from 2002 to 2006 – and running $29 million over budget in that time, City Comptroller W. Martin Morics is recommending consideration of everything from police district boundaries and patrol shifts to budget procedures and labor contracts. Morics enlisted the Police Executive Research Forum to help with the review. In 2005 and 2006, Milwaukee’s police overtime spending was significantly higher than in six similar-sized cities. Nashville is slightly smaller than Milwaukee but has more violent crime and only 1,217 sworn officers to Milwaukee’s 2,135. Yet Nashville spent $4.7 million on police overtime in 2005, less than one-third of the $14.5 million spent on Milwaukee overtime that year. A spokeswoman for Mayor Tom Barrett said it wasn’t fair to compare cities without considering other social factors such as poverty and teen pregnancy.