Police overtime and the substantial cost to the city in 2015 was the major topic at today’s Finance and Culture Committee meeting. Video
Today the committee did their final 2015 budget adjustments, moving numbers up or down depending upon their expenditures throughout the year. There was some good news, such as departments that managed to bring in extra revenues (but need approval from the City Council to spend them). And many departments received grants, from both private and public sources. But then there was the perennial problem: overtime costs for the Seattle Police Department, which once again were well over budget. This time the tab was $7,238,488.
Some of this was not SPD’s fault: we had visits from China’s head of state and President Obama over the course of the year. In those cases, the Secret Service tells the City of Seattle what security measures it must put in place but provides no funds to cover the costs; it’s an unfunded mandate, and this year it cost the city almost $850,000.
At the same time, there were other special events in the city, some of which were scheduled, that could have been planned and budgeted for. The city’s budget office claims they are working more closely with the Chief of Police to put in place a more rigorous planning and budgeting process.
Of note, the SPD landed a grant from the Department of Homeland Security for body cameras for all officers. They don’t have the entire protocol worked out for managing them, and especially the policies around public release of the video footage and how long they are retained for. But as soon as those are worked out, they have all the money in place now to purchase and deploy the body cams.
The full details of the extra money that came in, and where extra money is getting spent, is here.