On Oct. 3, the Office of Inspector General of the City of Chicago released an audit of the Chicago Police Department alleging that the Chicago Police Department had put in place a system of overtime pay that was unaccountable, wasteful, and criminal. So, not only does the CPD kill Black and Brown people with impunity on a regular basis, the CPD is also entirely corrupted.
The audit itself was called by chief of police Eddie Johnson who himself has been at odds with the traditional leadership elements of CPD.
Possibly the most egregious example of abuse is manifested in the practice of “trolling,” as the police call it. This includes seeking out violations close to the end of a shift in order to get overtime that can be classified as an “Extension of Tour.” Examples might be enforcing a traffic violation that would otherwise be let pass or purposely escalating an interaction with a civilian to arrest them so that the officer can get overtime pay for dragging out the arrest and filling out paper work. The idea that police would willfully arrest somebody who they know is innocent is par for the course when discussing such a murderously abusive organization as the CPD.
So what do the numbers say? In 2016, the budget for CPD was a gargantuan $1,452,492,621. Out of that over 1.4 billion dollars, $146.0 million was allocated for police overtime–10 percent of the total police budget. Overtime spending exceeded the CPD budgetary expectations by $66.4 million dollars. In other words, the CPD spent 46% more on overtime than they expected to for the 2016 fiscal year.
It is important to separate general overtime from Voluntary Special Employment. If an officer is participating in Voluntary Special Employment then they might be working a special assignment, doing a shift as a transit cop for the Chicago Transit Authority, or working with the Violence Reduction Initiative, a euphemism for a program that simply throws more cops on the streets in poor, high-crime neighborhoods. The major difference between general overtime and Voluntary Special Employment is that the general overtime system uses a manual accounting system that contributes to massive bloat and opens the door for corruption. Voluntary Special Employment only constitutes 43.7 percent of overtime pay with general overtime accounting for 56.3 percent.
Regular duty overtime can consist of the following activities: attendance in court, work on parades/details/special events, extension of tour, work on a day off, or other. The monitoring of these activities is left up to timekeepers and individual cops with very little oversight from above. 99.4 percent of overtime entries that are put into CLEAR, one of the two accounting systems used by CPD, provide blank or generic reasons for the overtime request with a full 97 percent left completely blank. If we have no idea why overtime was requested or what the request entails, how is it possible to assess whether the overtime awarded was legitimate?
As the report lays out, there are 61 individuals employed by CPD who work as timekeepers. The CPD pays these 61 timekeepers $7.2 million a year for doing a job that could easily be automated. Furthermore, these timekeepers are not even good at their jobs, potentially overpaying $1.1 million because of processing duplicate entries. Data entry errors on the part of these “professionals” cost the city $123,000. When unaccountable cops miss a decimal point, we continue to pay the price.
Police also engage in what is known as “paper jumping.” Paper jumping is when police ask to be put on an arrest report without having anything to do with the arrest itself. This way, the officer can go to court and collect overtime pay for their trip. Police will also “linger” in court, dragging out the time spent there to increase their pay. In line with their general attitude towards their unaccountable officers, CPD does nothing to monitor patterns of abuse. Their only safeguard against such practices is, in their words, a “bit of an honor system.” But as the old adage goes, there is no honor among thieves- something the CPD has proven to be time and again.
One of the ways that CPD says that it holds officers accountable is by requiring a superior officer to authorize overtime requests. Even this process is compromised. Over 600 officers engaged in reciprocal authorizations of requests. This means that officer 1 asks officer 2 for overtime on Monday. Officer 2 grants this request, which is then processed by the inefficient timekeepers. On Tuesday, officer 2 asks officer 1 for overtime, which is again granted. In fact, $40.2 million of overtime was not approved by superiors in the correct manner but was approved by peers or subordinates. The potential for abuse is plain to see.
The practice of CPD abuse of overtime reporting is set to continue. As the Chicago Sun Times reported CPD is set to spend over $200 million on overtime in 2017.
The Inspector General’s report is yet another reminder that the police, U.S. capitalism’s armed racist gang, are allowed to operate according to their own rules. This is yet another reminder that the police are not reformable under the current system.
It is absolutely criminal that the CPD, which has now been proven to be racist and corrupt by different wings of the U.S. establishment, is funded while entire communities of oppressed and working people in this city have been purposefully deprived of money for basic needs. The Party for Socialism and Liberation will continue struggling for a society without corrupt, racist, killer cops.