Over a three-month span, the East Haven police department signed off on 777 overtime shifts at a cost of more than $280,000, according to a report in the New Haven Register.
Mayor Joseph Maturo has previously said he wants to hire civilian dispatchers and has sent a letter to the union about his intention.
“Both Chief Larrabee and I have been monitoring the amount of hours that our officers have worked due to our previous and current staffing levels. Although we have been working tirelessly to increase those levels, we have been somewhat stifled by continued retirements, resignations and other DOJ related matters, that have created a significant amount of extra hours for the remaining dedicated men and women protecting our community. As the Union has expressed, the extra workload that our officers have had to maintain, certainly affects their quality of life and has been wearing on each of them and certainly not a preferable schedule for our department." Maturo said in a statement.
The union president previously told NBC Connecticut that the police officers are working 16-hour days and they would prefer more police officers to the overtime pay.
"Officers are enduring double shifts almost every day, and they're getting ordered in all the time, every week," Union President Bob Nappe said. "This hacks into their personal lives. They can't conduct themselves in a way that they should. They're tired."
Mayor Maturo issued a news release earlier this month saying that is not what the union said when he recently met with them.
Maturo said his administration has been monitoring the amount of police overtime that the town has had to pay over the last two years, both for financial ramifications on taxpayer and for the number of hours officers are working.
“This was discussed recently at a general meeting of Local 1662 of the Police Union which I attended. While Union President Nappe seems to be expressing that his members are overworked and desiring of less hours, it was not the sentiment that he expressed to me during that discussion,” Maturo said in a statement.
The mayor said he offered to consider hiring three or four “floating officers” to work available overtime shifts and added he’s been working on civilian dispatching, which would release more officers for street duty and cut down on overtime.
Mayor Maturo said he has sent a letter to the East Haven Police Union, Local 1662 informing them of his intention to hire qualified civilian dispatchers to replace uniform officers who now perform that responsibility at the police department.
He is also asking the union to waive a 180-day notice requirement so he would be able to effect this change as soon as possible.
“As has been stated previously, my administration, Chief Larrabee and the Board of Police Commissioners are continuing to look at every avenue to be able to bring our department up to acceptable staffing levels as quickly as humanly possible. We continue to thank the dedicated men and women of our department and will continue to provide them with the resources needed to achieve our stated goal of becoming one of the best Police Departments in the state," Maturo said.
Since 2011, five officers have been arrested, there have been eight retirements, one disability and five resignations, Maturo said.
“I am still proud of the men and women of our department who are protecting our citizens doing a fine job despite all of the problems within their department. I believe in the present direction of our department and applaud all our officers working tirelessly to make this the best police department in the state,” Maturo said.