Government Reform

Is Out-of-Control Spending on Overtime and Comp Time Just Another Word For Economic Stimulation? Plus, They Fire Horses, Don't They?


Yeah, yeah, I know: The next time I need a cop, I'll call a hippie.

In a story that doubtless has analogues in virtually every municipality in America, the Cincinnati Enquirer takes a long and disturbing look at the abuse of overtime and comp time by the Queen City's police department:

From January through November, police earned $7 million in overtime, much of it for court appearances or to staff sporting events, concerts, festivals and community meetings, city records show.

During that 11-month period, 238 police officers and civilian staffers among the department's roughly 1,400 employees earned more than $10,000 in overtime, allowing some to increase their base pay 20 percent or more.

Twenty-eight earned more than $20,000 in overtime during that period, including two who topped $30,000, records show….

Long-standing practices, a contract filled with frequent chances to earn extra pay and a police culture that fosters a sense of entitlement to readily available overtime figure into the department's hefty overtime tab, which equals about 5 percent of this year's $138 million budget.

Then there's comp time. Several offices have in excess of 10,000 hours of pay coming to them when they retire, "a ticking time bomb" for city coffers according to one observer.

Hey, if the current budget crises now playing at a local town hall, state capitol, etc., have the effect of actually restructuring really slack public-sector work oversight, at least something good will come of all those tax dollars we've wasted over the past coupla hundred years, right?

More here.

And at the same time, Cincinnati is wrestling with an even tougher decision than not paying its Thin Blue Line massive overtime: Should they fire 14 police horses that cost $1 million a year? Supporters say (in public, mind you):

Police commanders say [the horses] are great for crowd control, officers' visibility over crowds and public relations.

Paging Ooka the Wise, legendary ancient Japanese judge who makes great law from tough cases! Here's a solution: Fire the horses and have police sit on the shoulders of other police who are pulling those tough overtime wages. That might even be better for "public relations" than simply gilding your own paycheck.

Cincinnati is already set to fire 200 workers come December 31. I'm sure the city can get by without them. And without police horses, too.

And so can America, I'm wagering.


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  1. Wow, I think you hit tht nail square on the head! Amazing.


  2. America could get by without most of the police, too.

    1. But but, then the criminals would take over!


      1. In all seriousness, i stand by my assertion that if we fired all the cops tomorrow, they’d all turn to crime by next week.

        So, yeah, crime would skyrocket. Just not for the assumed reason of pre-existing criminals not having cops to stop them (like cops ever stop any crime anyway; they just clean up.)

  3. All that overtime will eventually vastly increase the city’s pension obligations to these officers.

    I think that a lot of these municipalities will ultimately reach a point where bankruptcy is their best option. Evading accrued pension and other retiree costs will eventually more than offset the increased future borrowing costs arising from a bankruptcy. In California they’re probably already there. My advice to the present and future governors of California would be to stop fighting and just declare bankruptcy, and then just walk away from the unfunded pension obligations.

  4. I remember a story here in Seattle about one of the most prolific OT collectors. I’m amazed he had the balls to give up his secret to the newspaper: “Never stand when you can sit, and never sit when you can lie down.”

  5. The real question re: the police horses is, “How the hell does a horse cost $1 M a year?”

    1. I think that’s for all 14 horses.

    2. Horses cost a lot. Feed, housing, vet bills.

      I think kids cost less, since you can save on costs by feeding them what you eat and make them live in your house. Then again, horses don’t goto college (yet).

      1. Hello, Operator?

  6. “Cincinnati is already set to fire 200 workers come December 31”


  7. Silly question: doesn’t comp time” expire at the end of the year, in the real world?

    I have never had a job which provided “comp time” but I have known people who talked about the “use it or lose it” factor.

    1. I think it depends on the strength of the union bargaining for the policies.

    2. Most of the places I’ve worked have it roll over. I don’t think it is unreasonable to consider the comp time worked such that it worth $$. Your vacation time is something you negotiate for.

      Although drawing comp pay and retirement is a bit much.

      1. Agreed. If you’re getting comp pay you should be technically considered “working”.

    3. Depends on the company. I’ve worked for companies that each had different policies (2 financial services and one tech). The two FS companies did not have use it or lose PTO policies, though one did have a cap on total accrued comp time. The tech company did have a use it or lose it policy. The “real world” doesn’t have uniform rules.

      Note: None of the companies I worked for were unionized, so that wouldn’t have an effect on the differing policies.

  8. We have a similar problem in the local school district with comp time. It rolls over from year to year. A teacher will accrue so much comp time that they retire and still draw salary for 2-3 years. The district then is one teacher short due to lack of funds to hire another one.

    1. I work for a $10B corporation. I was in an Executive Committee meeting a few years where this very topic was discussed. The Exucutives thought it outlandish that these employees would do something that would maximize their economic well-being, something the executives do every day.

      1. People at the executive level have a tendency to think the peons are kinda slow. It’s been that way in every organization I’ve been in. It is rare to find one who thinks otherwise.

        1. Which is only funnier since we think the Executives are isolated-from-the-real-world dunderheads at the same time.

          Who’s right, or is everybody just fucking stupid?

        2. *since we peons

  9. The district then is one teacher short due to lack of funds to hire another one.

    That’s a teacher shortage due to our anti-government paranoia concerning raising taxes.

    1. Why do we need to raise taxes? WTF, just spend some of the money going down the drain on something useful* instead.

      (*Not that teachers are particularly useful. Just build a bridge or repave some shitty roads instead. You know, all that stuff THAT TAXES WERE SUPPOSED TO PAY FOR)

  10. “They Fire Horses, Don’t They?”

    The neighs have it.

  11. Leave the horses alone. Horses really are effective as hell in those situations. How about cutting the overtime? This is a classic example of national monument liberalism. Liberals when forced to cut, will always cut the most visable, popular and useful government program as a way of extorting the public. All they are doing is telling the public “give us our usless overtime or we will cut something really important to keep it.”

    1. I agree, police horses can be useful. Especially if they are allergic to roses.

    2. I have to seriously agree. Cavalry Vs Foot is an established superiority, and a lot more sensible than rolling in tanks for crowd control.

      The real question though is what do they need all that crowd control for? Controlling anti-govt sentiment sadly.

  12. Liberals when forced to cut, will always cut the most visable, popular and useful government program as a way of extorting the public.

    Yeah, whenever Houston goes through it’s periodic spasms of attempted fiscal responsibility, it’s always “we won’t have enough money for cops and fire and ems”. The option of doing less useless crap never occurs to anyone.

    1. It’s called “the Washington Monument syndrome,” after the Park Service ploy. If they face a cut or don’t get an increase, it’s “Oh dear, we’ll have to close one of our most popular sites!”

      1. “Washington Monument Syndrome”

        Sounds like the next title from Tom Clancy.

  13. Cincinnati is already set to fire 200 workers come December 31.

    Are they stupid?

    Don’t they know that guvmints are supposed to only play that card when the local citizenry is going to vote on a tax cap referendum or a property tax reduction?

    “Your children will all be illiterate burger flippers, we won’t put out your house on fire and the libraries will all become brothels and transient housing!”

    1. libraries will all become brothels and transient housing

      Too late for the last part.

      1. Too late for the first part, too.

        1. If you like librarian hookers, you need to find a better class of prostitutes.

          1. Cardigans and glasses just do it for me.

            1. You must have been a big Smiths fan back in the day, then.

  14. As a horse owner and defense attorney, I really have come to the conclusion that horses are one of the worse possible uses of police money.

    Horses are spooky creatures, particularly when approached from behind. They are also a curiosity, particularly to drunk festival goers. Add into this the basic police mentality that assumes each person guilty of a crime, and you have hundreds of people each year charged with obstruction of justice or interferance with a police animal (yes, an actual crime).

    Police like horses because it means less work for them (and some easy citations). In reality, however, crowd control is far more effectively done either on foot, or on a Segway.

    1. Horses are spooky. But well trained ones are not. I have never seen or heard of anyone getting kicked by a police horse. I can’t think of an easier way to move through a large crowd than on a large horse. And a line of them is unsopable unless you have a group of pikeman.

      And as far as the citations go, don’t fuck with the horses. I don’t quite understand how an innocent person could get one. And I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the odd drunk who screws with the horses.

      1. I’ll second this. We go to the Pride parade every year. People tend to spill out into the street. When HPD runs the mounted officers down the street sidewalk to sidewalk, it clears the street like nothing I’ve ever seen. Cars wouldn’t work nearly as well.

      2. Yeah, they move through crowds, but so what? The typical event in which my client are busted are concerts or bar close. The actual incident a police officer may be needed at this kind of event would be a fight. Police can’t get off the animal to deal with the fight, they can merely watch it from there perch.

        As for training, I don’t know. The typical incident involves a horse jumping or bolting 10 feet. Client says they didn’t do anything. Cop doesn’t know what happened, but assumes that client screwed with the horse. We get to have expensive contested hearings on a dispute of fact, when a cop on foot would never have this issue.

        1. oops… “their” and add some s’s. sorry.

        2. As a defense attorney, I would ask for the horse’s file. Does it have a history of bolting? I can’t believe that a horse who didn’t do such things in the past would just happen to bolt right as your innocent drunk client walks by. If it did, it wouldn’t be the first time it bolted while someone just walked by.

        3. Your arguing their implementation, not their intrinsic value.

          I think we can all agree that every capability police have at their disposal is used inappropriately most of the time.

          1. *You’re (goddammit)

      3. “””Horses are spooky. But well trained ones are not.”””

        Yeah, as if well trained animals never attack people. Animal owners put too much stock in thinking their animal will behave the way they want the animal to do, or trained to do. Most of the time it’s true, but the animal has a brain of their own and in some situations act badly.

  15. Police commanders say [the horses] are great for … officers’ visibility over crowds and public relations.

    Have they considered using stilts?

    1. Lacks stability. Try swinging a billy club on stilts.

  16. Don’t you watch cartoons?

    A well-prepared criminal with a termite in his pocket can wreak havoc on a guy on stilts.

    1. Something weird happened to that comment.

      1. You mean, besides the content?

  17. Not stilts! People might think there was an anti-war protest going on!

    Those cannot be tolerated in the year 0 of the new era.

    Hopecember 15th of the 1st year of The New Century.

    Although I’m sure future scholars will debate if it should be counted from The Day of His Glorious Election or from The Day The Terror Ended. Depending on which, we are either still in year Zerobama or the year O!ne.

    1. Zerobama. Fucking Brilliant. Can we make that the word of the month?

      1. Yeah, that’s the ticket. We’ll start nameing military equipment on the year of The Won’s reign. Instead of F-35, it’ll be the F-0 Stealth Fighter.

        1. F-Zero Stealth ‘Bama (Bomber)

  18. $1 million a year for 14 horses! Thats $71,428 a year per horse. I own race horses in S. Calif and it cost’s me half that to keep them in training. Sell them.

    1. $1 million a year for 14 horses! Thats $71,428 a year per horse. I own race horses in S. Calif and it cost’s me half that to keep them in training. Sell them. to me so i can race them instead.


  19. If you think the horses are bad, try the police dogs. Not only do cops get bonus pay for working with police dogs, volunteer for the assignment and claim to develop an affectionate bond with their canines, who usually live with the officer at home — they then demand and receive overtime pay for caring for the dog.

    Show me a police department, and I’ll show you countless scams for fleecing taxpayers.

  20. Gosh- I wonder what would happen if you tased a horse.

    *rubs hands together in a sinister fashion*

    1. Google it, I’m sure Edison electrocuted a few during the Current Wars.

      1. Edison’s Medicine?

        1. No, his point was to show how dangerous AC was. When really, you can kill an animal just as good with AC or DC.

          Mmmmm, sciencetistic!

          1. Goddam DC Denyists. Fuck inbred bible-thumpers if you ask me.

            1. Edison was pro-DC. It was Westinghouse and Telsa that pushed the AC standard.

              1. Yes, he was Pro-DC, which is why he would hate DC-Denialists.

          2. The whole war was retarded. DC distribution has made important contributions to distribution efficiency since power semiconductors became available that could stand up to the load. In specific niches though, where DC can economically outperform AC.

            They didn’t have the semiconductors back then though, so the AC/DC question seems simple enough to answer: AC till we can more efficiently manage DC in similar situations.

            Bam, no War of Currents. Now where’d i put my time machine…

            1. The AC/DC question was answered a long time ago. “We’ve got the biggest balls of them all.”

              1. And you thought the Stone were old.

                AC/DC has been touring for over 100 years.

  21. John-
    This is a common problem in Minneapolis, and one in which most judges are aware of. The fact that the charges are routinely dismissed does not excuse the expense the client has to endure to clear his/her name.

    It is very similar to the disorderly conduct charge tacked onto anyone the police decide to tase. Prosecutors routinely decline to charge the poor sap who got tased for asking the police a question, but that doesn’t excuse the malicious use of the device in the first place.

    As far as I’m concerned, horses and tasers are substitutes for good policing.

    1. Minniapolis has some lousy horse cops. There is really no excuse for a horse that is properly trained and properly riden to bolt like that. I suspect the cops don’t know how to handle their horses, which unsurprising.

      Even if you get rid of the horses, the cops will still fuck with people as you describe. The problem is not the horses it is the cops.

    2. Same goes for police dogs, with the possible exception of using a dog to find a missing person or (maybe) to sniff out a bomb. The use of police dogs to manufacture probable cause for a drug search, or to take someone in custody by threatening them with mutilation, has no place in a free country.

      1. Police dogs can disable or disarm a threatening suspect without endangering human life. For example, they can enter crawlspaces, etc., where an approaching person would be at a disadvantage.

        I have no problem with police using force when the force is reasonable and justifiable.

        1. Too bad they have such a problem with that last bit.

        2. I still can’t think of an instance where such would be both appropriate and effective. If someone is in a crawlspace how much of a threat are they? There is a big difference between “threatening” and “noncompliant,” which cops unfortunately don’t grasp.

          Lots of interesting stuff if you google “police dogs” and “Prince Georges County.”

  22. My favorite is that one cop who sprints out alongside the entire football team in those stupid college football team intros. Watch the tape next time they show one on Sportscenter. You see the team, the coaches, the trainers, maybe a mascot….and a state trooper.

    1. But what if a bunch of hoodlums hanging out on the field (Get off my Lawn!) decided to fuck with the team.

      Then you’d be sorry!

      1. Actually one of my secret dreams is to see an actual, immediate need for that cop running in alongside the football team.

        I’m not sure exactly what scenario would create that need, but I’m pretty sure it would be damn entertaining.

        1. Would be a reason for me to actually watch the sport. Or any sport for that matter.

    2. That’s hilarious. I really cannot conceive of any scenario in which that cop is at all useful or necessary. I bet he is getting paid overtime too (to do something lots of people would pay money to do, I am sure).

      1. I really cannot conceive of any scenario in which that cop is at all useful or necessary.

        What the fuck do you know about it?

        1. Yeah true, Charlie Weiss could notice a hot dog and go into a rage — if that cop weren’t around, who knows what could happen.

  23. I own race horses in S. Calif and it cost’s me half that to keep them in training.

    Admit it- you’re using non-union horses, aren’t you?


    1. He’s probably using IllegalImmigrantHorses. They’re cheaper, you know.

      1. I heard, they’re, uh,..Arabian

        1. That’s if he was keeping Terrorist Horses.

          A few Illegal Immigrant Breeds:
          Chilean Corralero

    2. I tried union horses but they refused to run.

      All horses are immigrants – horses were not native to N. America. Imported by those European oppressors.

  24. I have a cop friend who used to be on horse patrol. What he said about horses was that you could get them to do things to people that, if done by the cop, would get the cop in trouble.

    But when the horse (was commanded and) did it, they could say, “Well, it’s just the horse.”

    1. Yeah, some cop ever bites me and I’m gonna win that lawsuit, hands down. The cop’s horse? Probably not so much.

  25. If we’re talking mostly useless, very expensive cop toys, let’s start with helicopters.

  26. I had no idea you could train a horse to attack on command.

    Shit, now I want one.

    I’ll show that kid on that fuckin’ noisy dirt bike who’s boss.

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