Chief ordered to watch costs

Police overtime piling up in Hayden

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— For the past three years, the Hayden Police Department has run up thousands of dollars in unexpected overtime.

With that in mind, the Town Board of Trustees has ordered Police Chief Jody Lenahan to follow a new overtime policy and keep those costs in check.

"We need to watch overtime costs," said Trustee Tim Frentress. "This is going to be an ongoing thing."

Town Manager Rob Straebel believes the policy is needed for Lenahan to monitor, manage and control the use of overtime by the town's three full-time officers.

"The policy will hold the police chief and the department accountable for overtime," Straebel said.

Straebel had the policy drafted because in the three years he has been with the town, the department has logged more overtime than expected.

"In the past three years, we are spending twice as much on overtime than what was budgeted," he said.

In the past three years, the town has budgeted about $6,000 to cover overtime costs for the year. Each year, the department has had an average overtime cost of between $10,000 and $12,000, he said.

Straebel is hopeful the policy defines for Lenahan and the officers when it is appropriate for officers to use overtime.

"I think we can make this work," Lenahan said of the three-page policy. "It will be my responsibility.

"I say what hours they will work."

For an officer to work overtime, the policy requires the officers to get approval from Lenahan or, in his absence, the town manager.

All overtime must also be accounted by function. Officers are to explain what the time is being used for training, extensive investigations or court appearances.

Gordon Booco, who is a veteran police officer, said he believes overtime is inevitable for the small department.

"I get called at home a lot," Booco said. "I don't want the overtime. I would rather use that time for other things. We don't have average jobs.

"If you expect for the job to get done, it is going to take some time to do it."

Darin Falk, another veteran officer, agrees. Falk told the board he often uses overtime to finish police reports. Falk said sometimes he is unable to finish a report during his shift because there is not another officer available to patrol the streets.

Lenahan believes overtime has been needed in recent years because of growth in the town and increased traffic on U.S. 40.

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