After launching a sweeping review of the Newark police overtime budget, Police Director Garry McCarthy said he has uncovered an “administrative nightmare,” reports the Newark Star-Ledger. In just a few weeks McCarthy said he found overstaffed shifts, unnecessary positions, poor oversight, and possible fraud. “When I got here, there was never any overtime controls in place,” said McCarthy, who became director in October 2006. “It was given out helter-skelter. It was not always based on intelligent policing but to fill slots. And some of those slots didn’t need to be filled.”
With the city facing a serious budget shortfall again this year, Mayor Cory Booker ordered the director to slash the overtime budget, about $19.5 million last year. One officer was on the books for so much overtime during one six-day period this year that he would have had to average more than 21 hours of work each day. Derrick Hatcher, president of the Newark police officers union, said he “very seriously” doubted that any cops were cheating. The best way to cut overtime is to hire more cops, he said. “If we had proper manpower levels, we wouldn’t have an issue with overtime.” Booker, who won office on a pledge to make the department more efficient, has made a point of hiring more cops, but retirements have cut into those gains. With the city facing one budget gap after another, cutting police overtime has become another priority.