Report Finds BPD Officers Earn Double Pay By Using PTO And Overtime Simultaneously
Baltimore City police officers may collect double pay by filing for overtime during shifts where they are simultaneously using paid leave, such as vacation. This arrangement, which is part of the police department’s memorandum of understanding with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, was examined in a new report from Baltimore’s Office of the Inspector General.
“Although this practice is permitted and does not violate any city policy, it could be perceived as wasteful,” Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming wrote Wednesday in the report’s public synopsis, noting that the agency exceeded its overtime budget by more than $12,000,000 over the last two fiscal years.
City Labor Commissioner Deborah Moore-Carter told OIG investigators that the overtime allowance has been a BPD practice for many years. The memorandum of understanding between the FOP and police agency “states all days and hours of paid leave time shall be treated as days and hours worked,” the report said.
Changing the overtime policy would require negotiation with the FOP. According to the report, the police agency is negotiating with the FOP for new agreements, “including reforming this practice and other problematic overtime practices.”
In a written response included in the report synopsis, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said that the agency’s Public Integrity Bureau will conduct an investigation into potential policy violations by officers that are mentioned in the report, which the city does not make public because it includes personnel information.
“The creation of new overtime policies for the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) has been a major culture shift for the agency where there have historically been little to no accountability for the stewardship of taxpayer dollars,” Harrison wrote.
In fiscal year 2020, the agency spent nearly $44 million on overtime.
“Someone can take a vacation, then be paid for a vacation day and then make time and a half on top of that,” Cumming said in an interview. “If elected officials or management decide that's something that they want to change, that’s up to them. It’s our job to shine a light and let people know.”
The investigation came about after a city resident submitted a tip about specific officers potentially abusing overtime, Cumming said.
“We just have to take the allegation and we try to recommend things that will make Baltimore better, more efficient, more effective, better government and better uses of our money, because everything comes down to saving the tax dollars of the citizens,” she said.
Councilman Mark Conway, chair of the Public Safety and Government Operations Committee, called the report “disappointing reading, from a fiscal and basic fairness standpoint” and said he will hold a hearing about its findings in August.
“When employees put in for paid days off, they should not be able to then claim overtime pay for those same days. The department has made great strides in reducing overtime spending, but clearly there is still work to be done so city government does right by the Baltimore taxpayer,” the Democrat said in a statement.