Auditors are known for being bookish, and we love reading and writing reports. But we also love the chance to talk in person to Portlanders about the topics we all care passionately about. We’ve been having a lot of fun getting out into the community to share the results of our most recent police overtime audit. On November 19, 2019, we discussed the audit with the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing.
We reported that police overtime was high by historical standards: nearly 250,000 extra hours at a cost of $15.7 million. But the costs of overtime were not just financial. Long hours lead to more accidents, more injuries, and burnout. Secondary employment, which is off-duty police work arranged through contracts, also taxed a system that relied on overtime to meet minimum staffing needs. The program had a low profile and inconsistent procedures despite significant risks. We recommended that the Bureau improve overtime data collection and reporting. We also recommended that the Bureau change the contract approval process for off-duty work and report publicly about customers, hours worked, and finances.
In person, we had a chance to answer questions and also to listen to concerns from the committee and other members of the general public. We talked more about the context behind some of our wonky recommendations to improve data collection and reporting. We also heard which findings really resonated with the public and the things they most wanted the Police Bureau to improve. One member commented that it was incredible that sergeants didn’t have access to reports about how much overtime officers were working. Another member noted that one of the committee’s priorities was accountability and that overtime was an area that needed more accountability.
View the presentation and discussion at the meeting of the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing at this link.
Read the Police Overtime audit.
Invite us to discuss our audits in person. We’ll present the Police Overtime audit at the Bureau's Training Advisory Council meeting on January 8, 2020. For more information about this event, see this link.
--Elizabeth Pape, Performance Auditor II