Gainesville police may be seen out in full force Sunday evenings around the Cooke County Courthouse in downtown Gainesville, but less money is being spent on overtime, data shows.
From Jan. 1 to Sept. 17, the city had paid its officers a total of $66,304 in overtime, according to information provided by Human Resources Director Leah Gore. In the same time period in 2019, the city had paid $86,388 in overtime to Gainesville Police Department personnel.
Police Chief Kevin Phillips said Monday, Sept. 21, that the city has spent about $106,000 in overtime for the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2019.
“Had it not been for the protests, we would’ve saved the city $35,000,” Phillips said.
PRO Gainesville, a local activist group, has been calling since June for the removal of the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument that stands on the northeast corner of the county’s courthouse at 101 S. Dixon St. The organization regularly holds protests Sunday evenings downtown.
Gore said the city also spent $253 for nine hours of overtime for three Gainesville Fire-Rescue personnel in connection with the Sept. 6 protest.
Phillips said the city has spent less overall in overtime this year compared to last because of the coronavirus.
The city tends to use overtime for special events and many of those didn’t go on as planned this year, according to Phillips.
The Medal of Honor week festivities, which take place annually in April to celebrate veterans who have received the U.S. military’s highest honor of valor, were canceled because of the pandemic. That series of events, he said, typically uses “quite a bit of overtime.”
He also explained his department was short officers last year, which added to the overtime spent during the 2018-2019 fiscal year. During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, he estimated that $153,652 was spent in overtime — about $14,000 more than budgeted.
Phillips said his department is now fully staffed with 42 sworn officers — a first since 2016. The overtime budgeted for the current fiscal year is also $140,000, he said.
While the city has spent less monies on officer’s overtime, there has been more comp time accrued, information from Gore shows.
Phillips said unless something major happens before the current fiscal year is up, he believes the department will spend less than budgeted for overtime.
From Jan. 1 to Sept. 17, officers have accrued a total of 1,345.75 hours of comp time compared to the same period last year when officers accrued a total of 1,103.75 hours.
Employees are allowed to choose whether to be paid overtime or to accrue comp time, Gore said.
The Cooke County Sheriff’s Office has spent about $8,000 more in overtime from Jan. 1 to Sept. 9 compared to a similar time frame last year, information from Cooke County Human Resources Director Elizabeth Huchton shows. The county has spent $28,564 in overtime this year. From Jan. 1, 2019 to Sept. 11, 2019, the county spent $20,586.
Cooke County Sheriff Terry Gilbert said covering the protests are included in this year’s statistics but he doesn’t have a breakdown of how the overtime was used. He said it could range from spending time writing reports to covering a shift that’s short.
“... The list is almost infinite,” Gilbert said.
The CCSO budgeted $55,000 for comp time and overtime in fiscal year 2019 and fiscal year 2020, he said.