Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt replaced his top financial officer at Mayor Bill White’s urging after an audit criticized the department’s lax overtime controls, the Houston Chronicle reports. The department hired Joseph Fenninger, a former chief financial officer at the Houston Community College system who also has extensive corporate experience, to improve oversight of the time-and-a-half pay. The Chronicle also reported that four rank-and-file police officers earned more than $100,000 in overtime during 2006.
Two of those officers were the city’s highest-paid employees last year, receiving more than the salaries of White, Hurtt, and all other department directors. The personnel switch comes at a time of heavy spending for overtime, as the department fights crime with an increased population and an understaffed force. The number of police officers paid more than $50,000 in overtime soared to at least 70 last year, three times as many as in 2005. Despite repeated inquiries by the Chronicle, the department has not explained what extra work the highly paid officers did to earn the overtime.