Sun reporter Annie Linskey neglected a few critical elements in her article on city police overtime ("Overtime budget buster," June 30). There are basically three overtime sources of city cops.
First, there is volunteer overtime for which the city is compensated by the sponsoring organizations, e.g. Orioles and Ravens for security at ball games.
Second, there is court overtime in which an officer must appear in court on his/her day off, which the officer has little or no control over.
Finally, there is case overtime in which the officer must work beyond an 8-hour shift to complete reports, investigations, searches, interrogations, etc. In serious crimes or incidents, activities such as these cannot be postponed to the next day or continued by another officer from the next shift.
In any evaluation or analysis of police overtime, you have to differentiate these dissimilar types if you want to intelligently discuss an overview of overtime usage, especially overtime abuse. Volunteer overtime is a non-starter because the city does not pay for it.
Court overtime could be better controlled if there was a closer working relationship between the courts, the State's Attorney's office and the police. In any case, the officer is legally required to attend court if properly summoned, regardless of his/her work or leave status.
Case overtime is the real problem and is particularly prevalent in investigation units. It is basically due to supervisory neglect or indifference. Too many supervisors will sign-off on overtime authorization without first questioning the real need for specific officer overtime or the duration of the actual overtime incurred.
John Fuller, Perry Hall