The City Auditor's Office this morning released its look-see at the amount of overtime paid to Dallas Police Department officers waiting around to testify at municipal court. DPD's got a general order that says: Off-duty officers can either hang around court waiting for trial and be guaranteed two hours overtime pay ("if they work in excess of 40 hours in a week") or they can stand around on stand-by for an hour with no pay "unless they are actually called to court to testify." Between October 2007 and December '09, says the audit, most officers decided to report to municipal court -- at the cost of an additional $1.4 million.
This, says the audit, despite the fact "99 percent of the time DPD officers attend Municipal Court they do not testify." Which is only part of the problem, according to the audit: "The DPD requirement that DPD officers claiming Municipal Court overtime obtain a signature from a City prosecutor is also not effective because there is no evidence that City prosecutors verify the details of DPD officers' court notifications and trials before they sign the overtime request card."
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The auditor's office recommends, among other things, that the chief require most off-duty officers to remain on stand-by rather than loiter around the court waiting to be called -- since, right, most never testify anyway. To which DPD says: Nuh-unh:
While implementation understands increasing standby would decrease overtime, the implementation of this could have a significant impact to municipal court revenue if the dockets are called before the officer arrives and the case is dismissed. Although officers rarely are called to testify, their presence often compels the defendant to plead out in the case. Secondly, the current meet-and-confer agreements includes giving officers compensatory time instead of overtime. The change will eliminate the cost of overtime.
The audit follows in full.