Wausau PD overtime hits 3-year high; effort underway to cut back - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Wausau PD overtime hits 3-year high; effort underway to cut back


The amount of overtime the Wausau Police Department is paying its officers is rising.

Newsline 9 has learned overtime payouts have increased for the past three years.

"Not only are the officers busier, but we're also making more arrests," said Wausau Police Chief Jeff Hardel.

In 2012 officers worked an extra 9,511 hours, resulting in about $300,000 in overtime, according to the Wausau Police Department. That's the highest amount in three years.

Hardel says overtime results from many factors.

"It depends on our staffing levels, it depends on events during the year, it depends on investigations," he said.

It also depends on maternity leave, workers comp time, and injured and sick officers, Hardel said. Service calls are also up significantly—35 percent from 2009 to 2012, according to Wausau Police statistics.

These are all legitimate reasons for overtime, but it's still expensive.

"We have put into place a number of initiatives to reduce the overtime," said Hardel.

That includes working to reduce the number of extra hours officers spend in court, and changing policies for filling out paperwork.

Chief Hardel also says more than half of the department's 71 officers are now working 12-hour shifts.

"What the 12-hour shifts do is give us more officers at peak times," said Hardel. That just started in January. Time will tell how well it works.

But what about just adding more officers? In Wausau, according to the department's statistics, there's one officer for every 551 citizens. The state average is one officer for every 410 citizens, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

"That's really a decision that's made at the council level," said Hardel of adding more police officers.

Wausau City Councilman Bill Nagle says he's open to it.

"I think first we're going to look at these 12-hour shifts," said Nagle. "If that doesn't substantially reduce the overtime, then we may have to look at additional officers."

Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple says there's always a healthy discussion about police staffing levels. But he told Newsline 9 those levels probably need to be higher.

"I think at the end of the day we need to add some officers," said Tipple.

But that is up to the city council. In the meantime, Chief Hardel says his officers are working hard.

"We'll do what we can with what we have," he said.

To view the Wausau Police overtime numbers in detail, click on the attachment.


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