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Committee OKs police overtime
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
By DAVID REID
[email protected]

Requests for $289,000 in regular and court-related overtime for the police department were given a thumbs-up last night from the City Council's Finance Committee.

The approval came after praise from some councilors about a reported 9-percent drop in major crime last year.

But some councilors criticized Chief Anthony R. Scott for not informing them about new initiatives, such as a demonstration today about new crime surveillance cameras, or citations issued last week to nine officers for their quick response to a High Street home invasion last month.

The overtime requests were for $226,169 in regular overtime and $63,233 in overtime for court appearances by officers.

The committee's approval will go to the full council for a final vote when it meets tonight. If approved, the spending will boost overall overtime spending, including grants, to more than $840,000.

Scott said the money will get him through June 30, the last day of fiscal 2005. He said overtime accounts were almost dry, the result of a number of factors, including injuries, military call-ups and an increase in detective work and special operations.

Already this fiscal year, he said, more than $60,000 has been spent on overtime for the Narcotics-Vice Division, $52,000 for criminal investigations, $31,000 for communications, $21,000 for training and $27,000 for the Emergency Response Team operations.

In all, he said, the department has expended more than $800,000 on overtime from the regular budget and from federal and state community policing grants.

Scott said he also expects to run at least two Take Back Our Streets crime sweep operations.

But the chief stressed that the overtime was an indication of increased activity by detectives and special operations by the uniformed division that has resulted in more arrests.

"The department has been extremely productive," he said.

"You guys are doing a great job," At-large Councilor Kevin A. Jourdain told Scott.

At-large Councilor James M. Leahy said he was proud of the drop in major crime last year.

"I certainly applaud you and the men and women of the department," he said.

Scott pointed to many of his top officers who sat in the audience, including Captains Alan G. Fletcher, Frederick J. Seklecki and Arthur R. Monfette Jr.

"They did it," Scott said.

At-large Councilor Peter R. Tallman echoed the praise, but said he wanted more information about why the overtime budget needed such a large infusion of cash with only three months left in the fiscal year.

He said the question, a tough one, needed to be asked for taxpayers, who foot the bill.

"This is a big expense, and this is a lot of money," he said.

Scott said at least two special crime sweeps will be scheduled this spring, and said the St. Patrick's Parade this weekend will tap into his overtime funds.

"When the weather gets good, the criminals ... are going to come out onto the street," Scott said.

Some councilors complained that they are being left out of the loop when it comes to special events or new information.

At-large Councilor John E. Whelihan made that point, but also said he was not among those who questioned Scott's deployment of police or his use of overtime.

Scott said he has credited the council for its budgetary support in recent statements about the crime rate.

"I know which side my bread is buttered on," he said."
 
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