HONOLULU (KHON2) — The city auditor released a harsh report of the Honolulu Police Department’s handling of overtime calling overall management of overtime “ineffective” — pointing out an “unequal distribution of overtime hours among officers.”
The report looked at problems and solutions to overtime at the Honolulu Police Department.
According to City Auditor Arushi Kumar, it wasn’t due to a lack of procedures but rather a lack of consistency.
“HPD has developed these policies, the structure is in place,” Kumar said. “This is not a situation of not having the right policies. It’s just, I think, a matter of making sure that they’re applied more consistently throughout the different districts.”
Lt. Robert Cavaco, SHOPO president, said cohesiveness has been an issue for years.
“You have eight different patrol commanders but they’re doing eight different things. so not all of the administration is on the same page,” Cavaco said. “It’s just really simple, just have to top-tiered administration get together come up with a plan and tell everybody to follow it.”
The auditor’s report also found there are no limits to the amount of overtime an officer can work allowing a number of officers to double their salary in overtime pay, sometimes in excess of what the mayor makes.
“Additionally, we found that the way that the department keeps track of overtime is through manual cards, paper forms, in 2022 for payroll purposes,” Kumar explained. “And as we know, that can leave a lot of room for human error, but also for fraud for abuse.”
In a sample of 1100 cards, she said they found $30,000 paid out that was unaccounted for in timecards.
The report also showed a huge jump in overtime payment through the years.
In 2019, HPD spent $38 million in overtime, compared to $21 million just three years prior.
“It’s jumped it’s doubled as you saw, whereas other police departments that are similar in size, they’re not using such a big percentage of their budgets on overtime. And so it just makes us wonder why Honolulu Police Department is using so much overtime,” Kumar said.
The report said, “HPD attributed the rise in overtime use to changing patrol staffing minimums, as well as rising vacancies due to difficulty in recruiting qualified personnel.”
According to Kumar, overtime has been used as the primary tool to combat staffing shortages but the audit questioned its effectiveness and whether or not it puts the department at risk with officers experiencing fatigue.
“We did find that for some of the highest overtime users in HPD, we found that there were quite a few accidents, quite a few complaints,” said Kumar. “And there’s just so many studies from organizations and journals that show that officer fatigue is a real issue.”
Kumar’s report also laid out six recommendations to help fix the problems:
- Standardize and centralize overtime policies
- Find an alternative to manually imputing overtime hours
- Reevaluate staffing
- Incorporate officer well-being into overtime policies
- Develop an automated system to study overtime to ensure it’s being equally distributed and find out what overtime is being used for
- Increase police recruiting
The report was originally due on April 14 but due to COVID, the deadline was extended to May 29.
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KHON reached out to Mayor Rick Blangiardi and a spokesperson said he declined to comment at this time. KHON also reached out the HPD. We will let you know when they respond.