SFPD chief launches crackdown on overtime abuse

December 4, 2009 6:25:42 PM PST
San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon has launched a crackdown on overtime abuse. ABC7 has learned that investigators have identified numerous officers, some middle ranking members of the department, who may be disciplined.

Gascon is taking a hard line on overtime abuse. He has stated his philosophy from the moment he took office this summer -- that he wants a clean department. In the past, City Hall has consistently blasted the police department for excessive overtime and now the chief wants to rein it in.

A police spokesperson told ABC7 the department does not comment on personnel issues but several reliable sources say that police investigators are looking into numerous cases involving overtime abuses by at least half a dozen officers and possibly civilian employees of the department.

Gascon made it clear when he took office this summer he would not tolerate misconduct among his officers. A special unit has been randomly checking time cards for excessive overtime. In October, the last reporting month, the police department incurred $1.6 million in overtime; year to date, $5.7 million.

Police, fire and the MTA are consistently among the top three overtime agencies in the city.

San Francisco supervisors are applauding Gascon's efforts.

"We at the board would certainly encourage that and making sure that if there are overtime costs, that they are legitimate and justified," Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said.

"Clearly, they have to do something drastic and I'm glad that Chief Gascon is coming in and really shaking things up because I think it's really needed," Supervisor David Campos said.

"To the extent we have abuses in overtime spending, we need to rein it in quickly and we need to have an all hands on deck mentality," Supervisor John Avalos said.

When he took office, Gascon inherited more than 40 disciplinary cases, some involving overtime abuse.

He told ABC7 in a September interview that he wants to clear them all as quickly as possible.

"I'm not looking to punish people, I'm looking to see, 'OK, where can we modify behavior,' and where based on everything else I'm looking for, behavior modification is not likely to occur, where behavior modification is not likely to occur, I think we need to look at the possibility of termination; in other cases, I think we need to deal with it and move on," Gascon said.

No one can tell ABC7 just how much taxpayer money might have been paid out as overtime in this investigation, it may be a substantial amount. Regardless, in budget times like these, City Hall will be watching the investigation and what the new chief finds very closely.


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