WOODBURY - Overtime payments for police officers in Suffolk and Nassau counties added up to high figures last year.
Overtime earned by police officers in Suffolk County last year rose 25 percent, coming to a total cost of $44 million. In Nassau, police overtime – including holiday pay – held steady at $68 million. Nassau Comptroller George Maragos called the figure “flat, but very high.”
Nassau PBA President James Carver said the high overtime pay coincides with a decision by the county to decrease staffing.
“In doing so, retirements have exceeded everybody's expectation except probably the union’s expectations, and you cannot hire enough police officers to keep up with the attrition rate,” said Carver.
Suffolk police officials attribute the spike in overtime to less officers on the force in recent years. They also say they have been reassigning officers based on crime patterns.
“We created a number of different crime task forces to go after the burglary pattern, to address issues in Huntington Station,” said Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone.
Suffolk has 65 new officers graduating this spring and Nassau plans to hire 50 in April.
Nassau's acting police commissioner says they saved money in the long run by not hiring a new class until a labor deal was struck that would have new members contribute to their health and pension costs.