Louisville police May 30 protest

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville police spent $3.6 million on overtime during the city’s protests over racial injustice in June, according to data released Thursday.

The costs are preliminary but represent, in just several weeks’ time, more than 40% of the department’s total overtime costs for the previous year.

The extra work pushes the overtime totals to $11.4 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30, up from $7.4 million last year, the police data show. 

But the massive increase in overtime has not led to the agency exceeding its budget, police say, because overall personnel costs are less than expected -- $170.5 million for the fiscal year, according to preliminary figures. The budget for personnel expenses was $174.1 million under the revised budget for the year. 

Ryan Nichols, president of the River City Fraternal Order of Police, said some officers are having to work 12- to 16-hour days. The excessive overtime highlights the department's current "manpower issues." 

"We are extremely understaffed, so that requires all those officers to work that overtime," he said.

Police spent slightly more than $8 million of its $185.2 million annual budget on overtime last year. It anticipated about $9 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to Mayor Greg Fischer’s budget proposal.

That figure, however, included the May Kentucky Derby and its namesake springtime festival, which didn't happen as planned because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Derby is now scheduled for early September, but the Thunder Over Louisville air-and-fireworks show has been cancelled. 

As of March 31, the department had accrued $5.7 million in both scheduled and unscheduled overtime.

The additional staffing began May 28, when people began filling Louisville’s streets to protest the March death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in her home while officers served a search warrant, and the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died in police custody.

Data provided by Louisville police that covers May 28 to June 28 shows that $1,176,714 was spent on “protests/incidents” over that time, and $2,297,617 on “protest response.” In all, that amounts to $3,474,331.

The spending, however, declined in the second half of the month. From May 28 to June 14, police incurred $3.1 million in overtime, or $169,723 per day, compared with $419,310 from June 15 to June 28, or $29,950 per day.

In May, Metro government’s Office of Management and Budget found during an audit of police overtime that the department did not keep a “reliable record” of which officers worked certain events and how many hours they worked.

As a result, there is not a standard process for monitoring the completeness and accuracy of overtime for special and reimbursement events,” the audit concluded, among other findings. Auditors made 22 recommendations; 18 will be implemented.

In 2017, WDRB News uncovered that several police officers racked up massive amounts of overtime after the city gave police $1.2 million to boost patrols in violent crime areas, but the extra manpower wasn’t apparently worked.

Note: This story was updated after Louisville police provided preliminary overtime costs for the full month of June. An earlier version reported data from May 28 to June 28.

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