Seattle police wasted more than $1 million on overtime pay last year, allowing officers to collect extra salary on the same day they took vacation and in one case collect 31.5 hours of overtime in a 24-hour period, said an internal watchdog reported quoted by the Seattle Times. Overall, the spending produced “little of value,” concluded Pierce Murphy, the director of the department's Office of Professional Accountability (OPA). Much of the overtime was linked to the department's efforts to comply with a 2012 settlement with the U.S. Justice Department to curb excessive force and biased policing, though no training plan related to the agreement had yet been submitted to a federal monitor overseeing reforms. The lax oversight occurred in the Education and Training Section, which was under intense pressure to incorporate the department's now-defunct “20/20” reform plan.
The plan, so named because it called for 20 changes in 20 months, was promoted by then-Mayor Mike McGinn and former Police Chief John Diaz to address issues raised by the Justice Department. As a result, the department exceeded its overtime budget for the training section by more than $1 million because of inadequate “systems and procedures to ensure that overtime hours reported were actually worked and properly approved,” the report said. Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole, who took over the department June 23, pledged yesterday to take immediate steps to correct problems.