Show Them the Money!
Massive overtime $$$!
Overtime at Chicago’s 911 emergency center more than doubled during the first two months of this year, thanks to a 13.2 percent increase in call volume and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision to reduce the ranks of police and fire dispatchers, records show.
Police dispatchers wracked up 10,024 hours of overtime in January and February, at a cost of $516,642, compared to 5,247 hours with a $247,662 price tag during the same period a year ago, records show.
Fire dispatchers piled up 3,504 overtime hours at a cost of $220,653 during the two-month period, versus 1,521 hours and $96,366 a year ago.
And get a load of this asshole:
- The alarming increases — which came as the number of calls went up by 13.2 percent, or 108,000 calls — are outlined in a March 15 email to 911 center department heads from James Carroll, finance director for the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
“Please respond by March 20 with the reason for the overtime, as well as a plan to reduce your section’s overtime,” Carroll wrote. “Hiring new employees is not an option.”
- Understaffing has been a chronic problem at the 911 center over the years. As a result, a handful of call-takers have been able to more than double their salaries in overtime.
Emanuel’s original plan called for eliminating the jobs of 17 fire dispatchers, laying off nine others and shrinking supervisory ranks from 13 to eight. After union negotiations, the mayor ended up eliminating 10 dispatcher vacancies, demoting three supervisors and one dispatcher and laying off one call-taker.
Also, the jobs of 45 police dispatchers were eliminated, and so were four of 22 radio repair technicians.
At least under the old system of granting them Compensatory Hours, you could defer portions of the overtime payments as long as their retirement dates. And by granting people days off, they would drain the Comp Time bank naturally. Now, by denying time off and capping the number of hours on the books, you have to empty out the OT piggy bank months ahead of schedule and you get bean counters like Carroll looking for solutions to a problem that is literally going to cost people their lives.
And of course, this article being by Fran Spielman, she trots out this tired old canard:
- Earlier this month, the Chicago Police Department pointed to faster response times to 911 calls as proof that the department’s strategy of putting more officers in patrol cars is working.
But the winning streak came to a crashing halt on an unseasonably mild St. Patrick’s Day, when bars and the city’s annual downtown parade drew huge crowds downtown and to River North. Sources said 911 dispatchers were so inundated between 10 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday that only 18 percent of the calls received during that time were answered within two to three rings.
Labels: money questions