Study find city pays $20M in overtime for Philly cops in court

Kristen Johanson
September 22, 2019 - 9:14 am

Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Police Department is the top driver for overtime in Philadelphia, and a new study by a fiscal watchdog group points to court time as the reason. The group has also suggested ways to cut that time in half.

The police department averages about $60 million a year in overtime for events like the Mummers Parade or Fourth of July concert, but a third of the overtime is spent for cops testifying in court.

"Court overtime the last seven years was always running the same. It was always around $20 million," said Harvey Rice, executive director for Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, a financial oversight agency for the city.

He said they tracked overtime in court during the fiscal year of 2018. 

"To see what was cause of overtime and see if we could get the city to reduce overtime, because that means more dollars for other city services that could be spent," he said. 

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They found prosecutors were asking several cops involved in a case to be in court for several days or on their time off.

"None of the systems of the departments and agencies talk to each other, so they need to find a new system to better run the court overtime and make it more efficient," he said. 

If there was a streamlined system which works with prosecutors on which officers they need to testify and tracks the time spent in court, they could slice the overtime in half, Rice explained. 

"There needs to be a better working relationship between the district attorney and the police on who to subpoena, and once that officer is then excused from court, then better efficiencies to take that officer off the overtime even though that case may still be in process," he added.

The group has also suggested the city focus on the issue during police contract negotiations next year.