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Fiscal mismanagement undermines respect for the police

Melvin B. Miller
Fiscal mismanagement undermines respect for the police
“Just keep running, son. We’re about to collect overtime.”

Criticism of the police that gets the greatest attention is over police violence, particularly against Blacks. But there has been another long-standing accusation that the police are intentionally inefficient. Exorbitant police salaries are customarily increased by fictitious overtime payments. However, the Boston Police Department has been able to reduce overtime payments by almost $6 million in 2021.

According to police department records, overtime payments were $78 million in 2020 but they declined to $72.2 million for 2021. This is an encouraging decline, but it still amounts to 18% of the $408 million paid to the police last year. The police cite as the reason for the savings that there were fewer public events requiring police security because of the pandemic.

Citizens looking at the problem from the outside might conclude that inefficient staffing policy might very well have been established to boost the income of selective officers. According to the report, there are 56 officers who earn $100,000 or more with overtime pay. One wonders whether extensive workdays because of overtime will cause the police officers to be less efficient during their normal work hours.

The response of the patrolmen’s union to the overtime payment system is to hire more officers. Indeed that might be necessary. But first, the mayor should engage consultants to propose policies to establish more efficient policing systems.

Many citizens have lost confidence in the integrity and efficiency of our metropolitan police departments. The development of managerial efficiency will help to restore that confidence.