“Mandatory overtime” – that means, we have to pay them for it whether they work it or not

31 Mar

I called the police chief a liar recently, because I believe he knows darned well Chico police officers are not forced to work overtime but they most certainly get paid for it. He says overtime is the cause of “burnout” down at the PD – how is that possible, when they don’t work it?

How many of you remember the Pioneer Days riots? Let me refresh – I was at Chico State then, that’s how long ago it was – Spring 1987. My cousin worked at Gepettos, and I was on my way over to have a free cup of coffee with him when it started. Just like that, in the middle of a fairly nice Spring afternoon.

I was walking down Salem Street, when I heard a smash behind me – a girl had knocked a beer off a second story patio, it had blown up all over the sidewalk. She was completely wasted, giggling out of control – she’d almost hit somebody with a full beer, and she was just laughing. It felt weird, so I started walking faster – in those days, there were always parties on that side of campus, and worse parties as you got further into the “college ghetto”.

When I got to Gepettos, my cousin was just coming in with the trash bin, which he had to empty a few times a day into a shared dumpster across the street at the old bank. He was laughing, but he told me, “you better pack it up and head from Gram’s (our grandmother lived in Princeton, where we often spent weekends with her). He told me he’d just seen “a pack” of college girls, wearing sorority t-shirts, attack a police car with eggs. The officers inside apparently got out of the car and radio’d in as they watched the girls unload 4 packs of eggs on their cruiser and disappear around the corner in a shower of giggles. My cousin predicted that things were about to get weird.

He actually hadn’t the slightest notion of how weird it would get, but that night we watched it on Ch 12 from Gramma’s living room – a mob looted a laundry mat, burned their loot in a big pile in the middle of the street, and overturned a news van that showed up to do the story.

By the time I graduated, CSUC president Robin Wilson had ended Pioneer Days, an almost hundred year old community celebration. Playboy Magazine had named Chico State “Number 1 Party School”. Yeah, I had to go looking for a job with that albatross hanging around my neck – “wow, what did you major in, tapping kegs?” They all thought that was real funny.

When my husband and I had kids, Halloween in Chico was one of our best kept secrets – people used to come Downtown at dusk wearing costumes made at home, really imaginative, and just walk around the grid admiring each other. I’ll never forget the guy who came out as a man in a cage carried by a gorilla, or the young man who made a cardboard bus and walked around dressed as Al Mitchell. A family we know went out as a bunch of grapes. All homemade. The last year we participated, my husband made a last-minute Capt. America costume out of an old pair of red longjohns, and we dressed our kids with stuff we bought at the fabric store – Bam Bam and Count Dracula. We made Bam Bam’s club out of a brown paper sack. We walked the circuit, then we went to Malvina’s to hear what Sal Corona thought of our costumes. As we sat in the window, we saw the Pope pass by, we thought, wow, that’s a weird costume, but it looked like the kid put a lot of work into it.

Yeah, the next day on the news, we heard the Pope was stabbed by a young black man who thought he was supposed to be a Klansman and got very offened. That was the end of Halloween as we knew it. The next year the police department brought in the Sacramento Posse, on horse back, among crowds of pedestrians wearing costumes, and that was all it took to take the community spirit out of that holiday.

And what was instituted out of these events was “mandatory overtime”. The cops used these holidays, along with St. Paddy’s, and eventually Caesar Chavez Day, to add overtime to their pay, whether they worked it or not. Every year council and the CPOA work, behind closed doors, on a Memo of Understanding that requires a set amount of overtime for the cops, on the premise that these holidays demanded that kind of attention. As I’ve shown in previous posts, they’ve made a policy by which they’ve traded overtime they haven’t used for “compensated time off”, which accrues unused until they retire and then turns into money.

Chief Aldridge has been on the news lately, mouthing a lie about the police being burned out and hard to recruit new officers because of mandatory overtime? That is such a crock. I don’t think many people read the contracts, so I wrote a letter to the editor about it.

I agree with Chief Aldridge – the city needs to stop putting “mandatory” overtime in the police contracts. Overtime has traditionally been written into the contracts for certain holidays that caused problems in past, but those holidays don’t produce the arrests anymore. Even though St Paddy’s was on Friday this year. KRCR reported, “Spring Break, combined with a reduced student population, results in a significant decline in the number of house parties in the south campus and west side areas, according to police.”

Overtime has taken the department over budget. They call it “mandatory” overtime, but even if the officer doesn’t work those hours, they’re compensated through “Compensated Time Off”. According to the contract, CTO is offered “at the rate of one and one-half (1½) hours for each hour of overtime”. So they’re paid for not working, at overtime rates. Furthermore, if they’re not able to use that CTO, it becomes “Selective Time Off,” without pay. But try to follow this – unused STO is accrued, “at the rate of two (2) hours for each hour of overtime, which accrues until the employee retires”.  At retirement, unused STO hours “shall be converted to CTO in accordance with the formula set forth in this section, and Employee shall be compensated.” There you see, one way or another, officers get paid for overtime they don’t work.

With 19 new hires over the past year, our police department should be adequate to do their job without racking up overtime. End mandatory overtime.

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