LMPD headquarters

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police for years did not properly monitor how the department spent overtime funds, including failing to document or keep tabs on “high overtime usage” by officers, a city audit found.

The internal audit was requested in 2018 by the Metro Council following acknowledged abuses by the police department from officers of $1.2 million in overtime funds the city gave police in December 2016 to boost patrols in high-crime areas.

Three of those officers were eventually federally convicted of faking overtime to boost pay and retirement benefits. They were given probation and ordered to pay back the funds.  

At the time, two of the former officers told a judge that padding overtime hours was part of the department’s culture.

The 26-page audit released this month didn’t address that allegation specifically but pointed out several deficiencies in how the police department has failed to properly keep track of employee overtime, including:

  • Minimum guidelines for reviewing and approving overtime have not been established, documented, and disseminated department wide.
  • The days and hours worked for outside jobs are not monitored, and officers could be working while claiming they are on duty with the department.
  • Court overtime is sometimes submitted for payment without documented verification of accuracy, proper authorization, and approval. There were court attendance discrepancies between the various court documents. (In 56 of 88 court overtime instances selected, there was not an adequate documentation.)

“It is our opinion that the internal control structure for the processes impacting the Louisville Metro Police Department’s overtime usage needs improvement,” the audit concluded.

For example, according to the audit, in 22 instances of overtime exceeding a predetermined threshold, seven cases were not reviewed or approved.

The audit, which looked at about 426,000 hours of paid overtime between December 2016 and August 2018, made 17 recommendations for improvement and noted that the department agreed with the findings and either has or will implement all of them.

“LMPD has progressively implemented internal controls related to overtime usage,” according to the audit, which also noted there is still “opportunities” for improvement. “Initial efforts to improve internal controls increased after allegations of misuse.”

In November 2017, a WDRB News story described how several officers worked up to 21-hour days, every day for weeks or months, including weekends, and racked up enormous amounts of overtime hours. At the time, former Chief Steve Conrad said he was unaware of any overtime abuse.

The WDRB investigation found officers logged what experts say would be either suspicious or dangerously long hours. Yet the department had no internal policies meant to force officers to rest or avoid marathon shifts.

Among the changes already made, LMPD majors are now required to review officers with overtime hours exceeding a defined threshold – 25 overtime hours per pay period - "to validate that hours were accurate and appropriate.”

In January, the department began randomly auditing 10% of employees to evaluate overtime use, according to the audit.

And the department will implement procedures to track the days and hours that employees work secondary jobs. The audit pointed out that current tracking does not “provide assurance that employees are not engaging in secondary employment while they are also being paid for work by LMPD.”

This story may be updated.

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Digital Reporter

Jason Riley is a criminal justice reporter for WDRB.com. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after 14 years with The Courier-Journal. He graduated from Western Kentucky University. Jason can be reached at 502-585-0823 and jriley@wdrb.com.