Why does the Riverside Police Department pay overtime? There are multiple factors including but not limited to:
Staffing and personnel shortages. The Police Department has been operating understaffed and short of the authorized strength of 19 sworn officers since 2003.
The resulting shortages increase overtime costs to provide patrol coverage to adequately respond to calls for service. Patrol shifts often operate at minimums (two officers on the day shift, three officers on the afternoon shift and two officers on the midnight shift).
Factoring in mandatory court appearances, sick time, vacation and holidays, mandated scheduled off days, injured-on-duty time, mandated training, etc., overtime is sometimes needed to provide an acceptable level of patrol coverage.
Flooding and other extra ordinary events. In September the village was inundated with flood waters. The rising flood waters forced evacuation of homes and the closure of main arteries/roadways in and around the village.
To address operational concerns relating to the flood, personnel resources were reallocated which resulted in 12-hour shifts and a substantial increase in overtime.
The village cannot predict or budget for these kinds of events, yet the police department has an obligation to respond in a manner consistent with the level of service the residents have come to expect.
Frequency and severity of crime. Our neighboring communities have experienced a dramatic increase in the frequency and severity of crimes. Riverside is no exception.
In order to properly respond to and thoroughly investigate all types of crimes including residential burglaries, sexual assaults and armed bank robberies, additional resources including overtime, evidence technicians and the detective sergeant assigned to investigations is necessary.
Responding to special requests for service. The police department prides itself on the level of community service provided to its residents. Community service requests include requests for services as a result of traffic complaints.
Although a traffic enforcement schedule has been established, when a specific complaint, such as speeding vehicles on Akenside Road, is received, a limited amount of overtime is authorized for a traffic enforcement detail.
Overtime for these enforcement details is necessary due to the limited number of personnel available.
Grant-funded traffic enforcement programs such as the IMAGE Grant or “Click It or Ticket” are 100 percent funded through state or federal initiatives.
Mandated court appearances. As mentioned earlier the nature and severity of criminal activity has increased. Once an arrest is made, the arresting officer or officers are required to appear at all court appearances unless otherwise excused by the presiding judge.
For traffic and minor offenses each officer is required to appear at 12 scheduled court dates throughout the year. Police personnel are divided into two court appearance groups allowing the other group of officers to provide patrol coverage.
Special events. The department is required/expected to provide operational support for many special events which increase the amount of overtime incurred by the department.
The Riverside Police Department has met its public safety responsibilities, and we have done so within budget. This has been achieved through strong fiscal oversight and management.
We continue to monitor very closely our spending under the current system. And we continue to demonstrate strong fiscal responsibility in managing the taxpayer dollars allocated to us.
Thomas Weitzel is Riverside’s chief of police.