Overtime spending at the Gilbert Police Department is creeping back up after a policy successfully cut the tab by more than a quarter-million dollars earlier this year.
The overtime policy was established in the beginning of the year after the department attempted to control officer spending, which reached a peak at more than $350,000 in February. After dipping to less than $100,000 in May, an increase in overtime spending habits over recent months could threaten the policy's effectiveness.
The Police Department has spent more than $1.5 million on overtime pay this year, according to city records. The amount of money spent on overtime has been steadily climbing from May's lowest point to $165,820.14 in September.
The department spends most overtime dollars on programs like DUI task forces, warrant apprehension teams and VIN etching services, said Sgt. Mark Marino. Some officers may clock overtime to fill out reports following their shifts, but the department's policy cracked down on excessive use of the practice.
Marino added that the money used to pay officers for overtime work comes from a "myriad" of sources, including state grants such as the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.
Town Manager George Pettit said the department was affected by a 2 percent salary increase in July, which would also change overtime rates. The department will not face any hiring freezes or layoffs, he said.
Police Lt. Eric Shuhandler said the department is within budget for overtime spending, adding cutting back on overtime is sometimes not possible. Officers who have court dates outside of work hours or are involved in high-priority calls can often not control going into overtime.
According to the records, the top five earners for each month are typically night shift employees. Two of these officers, Sgt. Randall McLaws and officer Chad Wright, obtained the top spots for nine months of the year between September 2007 and September 2008.
According to Detective Joe Gilligan, overtime earners like McLaws supervise other officers and may need to cover shifts for officer training or absences.
Wright was a night motorcycle officer in the beginning of the year but now works as a member of the criminal apprehension team, Shuhandler said.
McLaws was the top earner for five out of the 12 months, while Wright clocked the most overtime pay for four consecutive months.
According to Tribune records, both McLaws and Wright were among the top 10 public employee earners in Gilbert for 2007, both raking in six-figure salaries and earning more than Police Chief Tim Dorn.