Police

How Oakland Cops Gamed the System To Earn $30 Million in Overtime Pay

A new audit reveals how poor oversight and structural problems allowed one Oakland cop to earn $2.5 million in overtime pay in five years.

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When Oakland, California, police officers are needed at Golden State Warriors basketball games and other special events, Malcolm Miller is the officer in charge of making those assignments. Often, he assigns himself.

As a result, Miller has become one of the highest paid officers in the department. He's earned nearly $2.5 million over the past five years—most of it overtime pay—according to data collected by Transparent California, a watchdog group. Is he abusing his position to cash in, or is he filling important assignments that no one else wants? The answer is unknown, a new audit of the Oakland Police Department claims, because "the special event planning and staffing process is not documented and management provides limited oversight" even though those special events account for 42 percent of overtime hours worked last year.

Miller did not return requests for comment, but he's hardly the only officer to take advantage of poor oversight and a general lack of accountability. According to the audit, 217 officers worked roughly 520 hours of overtime last year, helping to cost the department more than $30 million in overtime pay—about twice as much as had been budgeted. Over the past four years, overtime expenditures have ranged from $28 million to $31 million.

Proper documentation of overtime work was lacking in 83 percent of cases, the auditors found. One officer was paid for more than 2,600 hours of overtime—equal to 108 days of round-the-clock work—in just a single year.

The audit also found that the department "cannot efficiently reconcile between the scheduling and the payroll systems." That is essential to ensuring that paid overtime is accurate, auditors note.

Having officers working that much overtime comes with an obvious cost to taxpayers, but also reduces the quality of police work.

"Workload fatigue can lead to poorer perceived health, increased chance for injury, and illnesses," auditors wrote. "Specifically, in high-stress, unpredictable environments like police work, fatigue, in turn, can lead to a greater chance for poor decision-making, which may have health and safety consequences for officers or for the community that they serve."

Keeping overtime hours and costs under control isn't difficult to do. The audit notes that one police captain ensured his unit came in under budget merely by maintaining "an excel spreadsheet with the ability to track and calculate daily overtime expenditures." Such basic documentation and accountability measures appear to be the exception rather than the rule.

Perhaps the most stunning part of the audit is the explanation of a department-wide policy that allows Oakland cops to accrue 1.5 hours of "comp time" for every hour of overtime worked. When an officer cashes in that comp time and isn't working, other officers have to work overtime to fill the gap. That creates a cascade of additional overtime pay—10 hours of overtime creates 15 hours of comp time, which some other cop has to work, earning 22.5 hours of comp time (if they're also working overtime), and so on.

The East Bay Times notes that overtime pay has been an ongoing issue for the Oakland Police Department. After earlier audits revealed similar problems with excessive overtime work and pay, the department hired 87 additional officers and abolished a rule requiring that officers do overtime work.

But the audit makes clear that systemic issues remain unaddressed—and cops like Miller continue to take advantage. "The City has not addressed any of the questionable compensation practices identified" in a 2015 audit, according to the new audit.

And what about that one police captain who tracked his unit's overtime pay with a spreadsheet?

"The tool was never adopted by other organizational units," the audit reports, "and is no longer being utilized by the captain due to time constraints."

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  1. Hey Eric, no articles today on the DOW Jones rising hundreds or points over the last few days? If movement of hundreds of points is worthy of an article, why not do one on rising market indicators?

    1. Are you making a ‘Trump is the best at economics’ point here?

    2. How come you are so silent when the economy dives?

      Sheesh. Cherry pickin, booger pickin, what the diff, bro?

      1. He’s not the one constantly writing articles about it like Eric Boehm ased on absolutely no data. You don’t find it odd that Mr. Boehm never actually cites data showing his predictions were correct? There has been no adjustments to the inflation rate based on the trade policy from Trump. Yet Eric has at least a half dozen articles inferring it is happening.

        1. You and lc both shame me with your numerous cites.

          1. Poor boehm alphabet sock.

    3. Stop trying to spin this disastrous economy. Like AOC said, things are so bad that even a low unemployment rate just means people are working two jobs and barely scraping by.

      #DrumpfRecession
      #KrugmanWasRight

      1. Good post, and #krugmanwasright might be the funniest thing you’ve ever written.

    4. MAGA

    5. The cops are really crooks, who would have thunk it?

  2. “no longer being utilized by the captain due to time constraints.”
    Yeah, right. Now his time is spent trying no to get lynched by his grafting buddies.
    How about a law prohibiting overtime, on the basis that it will reduce stress and therefore reduce disability claims by millionaire officers?

    1. BREAKING: Twitter SUSPENDS Project Veritas for posting private information!

      https://tinyurl.com/yxvacdy6

  3. This is huge:

    Judicial Watch: State Department Emails Show Coordination Between Obama State Department and House Democrat Leader on Christopher Steele/Russia

    In an email exchange on September 19, 2016, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS asks (Special Coordinator for Libya Jonathan) Winer if he is “in town?” Winer replies “For a couple of hours.”

    In an email exchange on September 26, 2016, Winer emails (Assistant Secretary of State Victoria) Nuland asking for “15 minutes of your time today if possible,” to discuss a “Russia related issue” from his “old O [Orbis Business Intelligence] friend.” Orbis was co-founded and run by Russia dossier author Christopher Steele. Nuland’s assistant suggests a secure call for the discussion and Winer asks his aide to postpone a meeting he was to have with the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) to accommodate.

    1. so, the State Department was in on this, too.

      1. Sure looks like it.

        1. Mueller was the distraction and misdirection hail Mary for Democrats.

          All sorts of Lefties would have been liable for criminal charges if someone investigated this attempted coup for 2 years.

  4. time and a half for overtime is not unusual anywhere and I can see how cops can’t just look at their clock and say time to go while in the middle of a wreck or crime scene. that said one cop did it and its clear there are abuses in Oakland and everywhere else.

    1. The problem is lack of accountability. Employees don’t get away with this sort of carelessness in a private business.

      1. The department recorded over 3600 instances of paying overtime to officers who were on paid leave. But they can only account for 17%? How many millions of the City budget have been paid out off the books?

        I completely agree with you MelvinUpton. There is way too much of a coincidence for this to just be an “oversight” of the local leadership. I’ve found Transparent California to be one of the best resources for digging up these cases.

        If you want more info I suggest checking out the Transparent California blog:
        https://blog.transparentcalifornia.com/2019/06/11/oaklands-soaring-ot-mostly-due-to-deficient-management-new-audit-confirms/

        1. Thanks buddy, I will do that

        2. If this idiot Boehem got his information from “Transparent California”, then they are as big a pack of idiots as he is.
          #1. Those “overtime” payments to cops working at Warrior games are covered by payments made by the Warriors to the City, probably at a rate in excess of what the cops get paid. Cities don’t provide police for special events for free. The paycheck may come from the PD, but the City collects at their end.
          #2. That “comp time” earned for overtime work is in lieu of overtime pay and the cost of paying the overtime for the officer replacing the one taking that comp time is less than the cost of regular pay, which would have to be paid, if the substitute officer wasn’t on overtime (the additional costs of benefits is calculated on the regular worked hours and thus not included, when overtime is worked and is less than the extra half-time).
          When there is a department, that requires a certain number of people be on the job, any vacancy must be filled. It is actually cheaper, because of the lack of the need to pay those benefit costs, to hire overtime than it is to have enough cops working regular hours to cover absences. If a department has enough officers to cover absences, then they run into the trouble of what to do with them, when the number of absences is less than the excess number employees they would have to retain. They would have regularly paid officers, with no assignment to fill.
          In a job that has a minimum staffing level required, overtime is a necessity, actually costs less and is not some scam on the taxpayers.

          1. I don’t really know what you’re getting at because clearly the system is inefficient and easily taken advantage of

    2. time-and-a-half pay for overtime isn’t the problem.
      the problem is 1.5x comp time on top of the 1.5x OT pay.
      So you work 40 hours plus 10 OT hours, then get 15 hours off, which someone else has to work OT to cover. etc.

      1. Sounds silly, doesn’t it?
        That’s why it doesn’t happen.
        Working overtime gets either time-and-a-half pay or time-and-a half of comp time. Not both.
        It is just misleading writing to think that this isn’t the case.
        Yes, there is a multiplying factor but the overtime must be compensated and overtime pay, at time-and-a-half is actually less expensive than regular, straight time.
        All the benefits – health insurance, vacation pay, sick pay, worker’s comp, etc adds up to more than 50% of regular pay but isn’t included when overtime is paid, because the amount is spread out over regular hours, not increased when someone woks extra time.

        1. I forgot to mention that the contributions to the pension fund are also part of the benefits, that don’t have to be included when overtime is paid, and that’s quite a bit.

  5. This is fake news and unfairly maligns our nations’ heroes.

    1. Right, right? I mean, the taxpayers need the cops to protect them from being robbed!

  6. Having officers working that much overtime comes with an obvious cost to taxpayers, but also reduces the quality of police work.

    Sure… presuming those hours were actually worked.

    1. Nothing improves the quality of police work. Working tired doesn’t, working not tired doesn’t…

      1. How about retiring rich, fat and happy with a bloated pension? Does that help them?

  7. Comp time as compensation for overtime is a scam. It is not permitted in the private sector. Congress allowed it to be used in the public sector under the pretext of easing the budgetary cost of overtime pay. But compensatory time must be paid out at the rate of pay in effect at the time it is used, not the time it was earned, and if the employee retires with comp time to his credit, it must be cashed out at the rate of pay he is earning at the time of retirement. This means that overtime worked when an officer was an entry-level patrolman can be cashed out 25 years later upon retirement at the rate of pay he earned as chief of police, as frequently occurs here in New Jersey.

    And as far as excessive overtime work causing fatigue, I have seen cases of police officers and correctional officers coming in with doctors notes claiming that they are unable to work due to the “excessive stress“ of working overtime, and demanding Worker’s Compensation coverage for it.

    If cops put in the same effort into fighting crime as they do finding scams to squeeze money out of taxpayers, there would be no crime left in this country.

    1. “Comp time as compensation for overtime is a scam. It is not permitted in the private sector.”

      Yes it is. My company has it. Granted it is not a 1.5 to 1 ratio. It is also only for salary. It is 1:1. It is also expungible (for salary) after one year.

      1. “It is only for salary.”

        That’s the difference. It should have clarified that it is not lawful in the private sector for employees who are required by law to receive overtime at time and one-half under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Salaried employees are exempt from overtime under the FLSA and your employer is free to give you hour-for-hour comp time under any conditions it chooses, or not give you any at all. But if you were a wage earner entitle to overtime under the FLSA at time and one-half, the company would have to pay you.

      2. It’s extremely common in an unofficial manner. “Bob, you had to stay until 9:00 last night. After lunch, get home and taken the afternoon to catch up on sleep”.

    2. The article read as if the comp time is in addition to the overtime pay – – –

    3. The comp-time reimbursement, at the rate-of-pay when paid out is generally higher than the rate at which it was earned. That’s why most places limit how much can be accumulated.
      But, in the long run, because of the high hidden costs of benefits, that don’t have to be included, it still works out to be a net-positive for the agency.

  8. Here’s a crazy idea make the Warriors pay for their own security. Why is the city paying to protect a billion dollar business?

    1. “Here’s a crazy idea make the Warriors pay for their own security. Why is the city paying to protect a billion dollar business?”

      The Giants pay the SFPD to provide security at the ball park; pretty sure the Warriors are going to have to do the same in the new stadium.

      1. Actually, the Giants pay The City of San Francisco, not the department, directly. As does, I am sure the Warriors do, to the City of Oakland. That’s why an “audit” of department finances shows no income from the Warriors, while it does show the outlay.
        This article is beyond being misleading, it is full of lies.

        1. Except it isn’t, because there is no guarantee that the payment from the team is actually used by the city to cover the work that is done. It wouldn’t be included in the department finances because it isn’t paid to the department. Your claim is invalid.

  9. How the hell do you get both overtime pay and comp time for the same work? That’s just crazy.

    I can see giving someone overtime pay if they work more than they originally contracted for. I can also see giving someone time off to balance out extra time that they worked. I can even see a rule that lets you get a bonus for working more than expected. That’s why “time and a half” is the usual rate for overtime pay. Comp time is usually hour-for-hour but a 3:2 ratio isn’t completely unreasonable.

    Paying someone 1.5x the rate and also giving them a paid 1.5 hours off, however, is just insane. That’s basically saying that every overtime hour costs the department 3x the cop’s base pay. And that’s before the cascading effect mentioned in the article.

    1. multiplier effect in action

    2. How long until every police officer is only working overtime and using their comp time to cover their regular time hours? It’s a logistic question, but I’m going to make some guesses…

      Yr 0 – 20 days off/year and a starting bank of 0 comp time – 241 reg days
      Yr 1 – 20 days off, 30 days comp time – 211 reg days
      Yr 4 – it’s all comp time

      Assuming 5 shifts in a 7 day week, no attrition, and officers all start at the same time with 20 days of PTO.

      Even assuming only 5 shifts off per year, it only takes 8 years to escape regular time. This model seems wrong. Changing to assume no annual PTO award, but starting that first year, each officer takes 2 extra shifts. It only takes that cascade effect 12 years to eliminate regular time altogether.

  10. Fire. Them. All.

  11. This is unbelievable. How is giving them both the overtime pay and comp time pay in any way reasonable for the City budget? What city projects are they scrapping due to lack of funds? The budget is in debate right now but who else is the city leadership robbing to pay Paul?

  12. Warriors and Raiders don’t pick up the costs of officers needed at these events? Tha hell?

  13. 217 officers worked roughly 520 hours of overtime last year, helping to cost the department more than $30 million in overtime pay

    That’s $57,692 an hour! Did those 217 officers average 520 hours of overtime for the year, or am I reading this wrong?

    1. 520 hours per cop. It comes out to a meager $266/hour. I don’t know how anyone can live on that.

      1. Presuming that’s 1.5X time for OT, that means their normal rate is $177/hr.

        If you consider that, it seems perfectly reasonable… /s

  14. Criminals are on the wrong side of the law.
    They should’ve became cops.
    They would’ve made a fortune in Oakland.

  15. “Specifically, in high-stress, unpredictable environments like police work, fatigue, in turn, can lead to a greater chance for poor decision-making, which may have health and safety consequences for officers or for the community that they serve.”

    Watching a pro sports game while getting paid time-and-a-half doesn’t sound all that stressful to me.

  16. Many cops are professional criminals, and this is just one more example of how they do it.

  17. […] How Oakland Cops Gamed the System To Earn $30 Million in Overtime Pay Reason […]

  18. A person tasked with enforcement, carrying a gun, and authority to initiate violence, should NOT work overtime. Period. For the servatude and protection of of the people, and safety of the officers.

  19. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

  20. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

  21. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

  22. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

  23. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

  24. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

  25. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

  26. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

  27. […] Final yr wasn’t an outlier. Within the final 4 years, time beyond regulation pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, despite the fact that town has budgeted for about half that quantity, in keeping with Cause journal. […]

  28. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

  29. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

  30. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

  31. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

    1. Cities regularly budget for less overtime than they know they will have to pay out.
      It is so they can whine about overtime, when it is actually a money-saver to pay the extra 50% for overtime hours worked, instead of the full cost of regular, straight time, which includes the hidden costs of the benefits, which is more than 50%.

  32. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

  33. […] Last year wasn’t an outlier. In the last four years, overtime pay has ranged from $28 million to $31 million, even though the city has budgeted for about half that amount, according to Reason magazine. […]

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