Many New Orleans police officers worked more hours in a day and in a week in early 2013 than was allowed by department policy, the city’s Inspector General’s Office said in a report released Wednesday.
The result of such long hours, Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux warned, could be officers who are too tired to do their jobs safely and effectively. The report, titled “New Orleans Police Department Payroll Performance Audit,” tested the effectiveness of payroll, overtime and paid-detail processes related to NOPD daily working limits and controls, he said.
In a random selection of 90 officers out of the more than 1,200 who were employed by the NOPD between Dec. 30, 2012, and April 6, 2013, the audit found that:
- Seventeen officers worked more than the 16 hours and 35 minutes a day allowed by NOPD regulations for regular tours of duty, overtime and paid details added together.
- Fourteen officers worked more than the 32 hours of overtime allowed in a week.
- Paid details were not properly documented or approved according to NOPD policy. Officers failed to enter their details into a database as required, the report said.
- Three officers worked a total of four paid details during their assigned NOPD shifts.
- Twelve officers worked 50 paid details without a required break between their regular shift and their paid detail.
Officers could possibly work up to 106 hours and 55 minutes in a week if they work the maximum overtime and paid-detail hours allowed in addition to their normal tour of duty, the report noted.
“NOPD supervisors must effectively monitor officers’ time to be sure officers get the proper rest required to avoid fatigue-related accidents and poor work performance,” Quatrevaux said.
“If paid details are not properly approved and scheduled, NOPD is understaffed while officers work details on city time. Policies in place to prevent and detect overwork of officers and abuse of paid details must be enforced,” he said.
Of the 36 officers who worked paid details, 23 did so without the knowledge or approval of their supervisors in at least some cases, the report said. “Without proper knowledge of the officers’ paid detail hours, the supervisor cannot accurately verify that officers are not working more than 16 hours and 35 minutes a day,” it said.
The report said most of the problems can be corrected by implementing the city’s new ADP electronic payroll system and shifting the coordination of paid details to the Office of Police Secondary Employment, the City Hall office created to take over management of paid details that formerly were run by individual officers.
In an official response included with the report, Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas acknowledged many of the problems but said “significant steps have been taken by the mayor and other city officials to advance the management of internal payroll controls.”
He said the department is “in the final stages of transitioning away from the antiquated human resource mainframe system to a technologically advanced ADP payroll application” that “will provide greater oversight to our managers in access to real-time payroll data, improved levels of security and other modernizations.”
Although Serpas admitted that some officers exceeded overtime limits, he said that “given the extraordinary manpower demands placed on this agency during the first quarter of 2013,” when the city was host to the Super Bowl and other major events, “we are encouraged to discover that such a minute population of errors was found in such a large organization and across multiple pay cycles.”
The report can be viewed at www.nolaoig.org.