Durham, N.C., Police Chief Steve Chalmers, struggling with turnover in his ranks, Steve Chalmers spent nearly $700,000 on overtime last year, more than double his budget, says the Raleigh News & Observer. At a hearing yesterday, City Council members said they couldn’t let that happen again. Chalmers told the council he needed $1 million in overtime funds, but council members said they would limit the allocation to $500,000, and they want more information on why the estimate was so high. “In my judgment, a department that has to spend $600,000 to $700,000 on overtime — something’s wrong somewhere,” council member Eugene Brown said.
Half of City Manager Marcia Conner’s proposed 5-cent property tax increase would go to public safety, including eight new patrol officers, new police cruisers, 911 system upgrades, and raising officer salaries. Overtime pay funds a portion of officer patrols, making police more visible and allowing officers to spend more time in high-crime areas, Chalmers said. Council member Diane Catotti suggested the money could be better spent on hiring new officers, who could do the same thing for hourly pay, not time and a half.
An average of three Durham police officers quit or retire each month; last month, eight officers left, five to take other law enforcement jobs. The department has 414 officers