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L.A. County sheriff's deputies got massive overtime in violation of rules, audit finds

Hundreds of L.A. County sheriff's deputies racked up massive amounts of overtime, according to a new audit that said some of the extra work violated county rules and may have hindered the deputies' performance.

L.A. County Auditor-Controller Wendy L. Watanabe's office found that 348 deputies between March 2007 and February 2008 worked more than 900 hours of overtime -- the equivalent of an extra six months of full-time work.

County auditors found that the agency lacks overtime policies and rules that limit cumulative overtime and that even in non-emergency situations, overtime is often not pre-approved by managers.

“Employees who work significant amounts of overtime may not be physically/mentally capable of performing their jobs,” Watanabe wrote

The audit report completed Friday was made public over the weekend by County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. The Sheriff's Department exceeded its overtime budget 104% on average in each of the last five fiscal years, the report said. The department needs to reevaluate its overtime budget that on average was $82.5 million more than planned in each of those years sheriff's managers flouted work schedule rules, the report said.

Fourteen of the top 20 overtime earners in the department repeatedly violated rules prohibiting excessive double shifts and six strung together more than 12 consecutive days of work, the audit found.

Sheriff's Department timekeepers, who are supposed to note such violations, rarely flagged them, according to auditors. Overtime was not the department's only problem, the report found. A small sampling of employees on sick leave found that nearly a third were overpaid, and a review of 15 industrial accident cases found that overpayments were made in nine cases because of department actions.

Bonus pay was also a problem, with a quarter of 60 bonuses lacking the required paperwork, the audit found. Sheriff's Department officials in a reply to the report noted that much of increase in overtime occurred as the department in 2005, 2006 and 2007 tried to cover for new positions as it reopened extra jails. The department hired 1,200 deputies from July 2006 to 2008. 

In response to the report, Sheriff's Department officials agreed that tightened management of overtime was needed and said that the department is already dramatically cutting spending this year.

Officials said that in some cases, deputies working long hours were assigned to the department's tactical weapons team, narcotics unit or homicide bureau, which typically respond to unplanned events.

--Richard Winton

Comments () | Archives (66)

Heads should roll, but they won't. People should be fired, but they won't. Someone should be held accountable, but they won't.

And people wonder why I trust no one in or associated with our system of government. "Public servants"? Yeah, right.

I'd be curious whether those nearing retirement had disproportionately more overtime than those far from retirement.

This is the rule, not the exception, in nearly every city and county in California and it is the primary reason California is broke.

You know there is several ways to rob people.
The police put poor people into jail for robbing stores.
Who will put the police away for robbing our taxes?
These guys are crooks pure and simple. No boss agreed to their overtime and I seriously doubt that these guys worked six months in one year of extra time.
Who did they think they were kidding?
Bankers get away with it so why not the police?
Makes me sick to my stomach having to be policed by such hypocrites!

Deputies, fearing for their lives, accumulated overtime.

Why am I not surprised? A couple of years ago a lady Sheriff came down our street and ticketed my new car for no current tag. My neighbor caught her in the act and kept pointing to the paperwork in the window, she ignored him and the paperwork. She wouldn't even get out of her car. $162.00 later, after sending in the paperwork showing I had just prchased the car 2 weeks before, I was told I had not met the 10 day deadline, which was not true. My response was immediate and I mailed in the paperwork promptly. But the problem is who has the jobs, look at the majority and you'll see that affirmative action is alive and well in the Sheriff's dept. Incompetence coupled with an unwillingness to see reason is the bane of that dept. from top to bottom. I will NEVER vote funds into that dept. until BACA and his ilk are gone. He turns a blind eye always.

And these bumbling keystone cops still can't eradicate graffiti.



Hire more deputies then.. Oh that's too expensive.. ok.

Are the officers seeking huge overtime hours to increase their annual pay for the purpose of increasing their pensions? They are scum!

This is an absolute breakdown of local goverment. Not only do the Sherrifs roam Los Angeles like bullys in a playground, they arrogantly break traffic rules and relentlessly ticket and harrass people to try and keep revenue coming in and poorer people out of nicer neighborhoods. The worst part is we are paying them time and a half to do it. . I would love for the LA Times to take a long hard look at the department and report back to us the tax payer on what's really going on...From the top to the bottom.

No one should be fired!! Los Angeles was supposed to get extra police officers, but we didn't. LOOK TO the Mayor and ask HIM why Los Angeles doesn't have enough police officers? The Police Dept. did what they had to do to keep Los Angeles safe and at par. We need more police officers, what's the Mayor going to do about it? He keeps making promises and nothing ever comes to fruition. This is the Mayor Villaragrossa's fault, he alone has to finally answer to us.

This is a safe target for a do-nothing politician like the County Supervisor Yaroslavsky, whose own budget and salaries are excessive especially in our current economic crisis. Fix your own house first before making token gestures of looking after the public $. Your first priority should be going after the utility companies and oil companies power grab of government instead of making headlines about "petty theft" in the Sheriff Department. But then again, that would be biting the hand that feeds you. The local government bureaucracy is perhaps the worst violator of public trust when it comes to fiscal responsibility. Let's face it, it's all about how much money can you squeeze out of Joe Citizen before he bleeds to death. Anyone else want a piece of the action while there's still some blood left in our veins or do you want that too?

Did I recently read that crime and murder in particular were DOWN in LA County? Hmmm Maybe the overtime was attributed to a worthwhile cause. You can't have your cake and eat it too. You all are so quick to criticize.

Remember, these are the same clowns who masterfully handled the "Ginger" incident in Calabasas and who also released the girl from confinement in the middle of the night in Lost Hills. She hasn't been seen since. It seems that it takes a lot of overtime to master your profession and build public confidence in your capabilities.

Just another form of theif, but this time by the people who are suppose to protect us.

Wow, all these comments attacking deputies for the mandatory staffing required by contract cities, and lack of department personnel to draw from. There's no correlation made between the deputies being forced to work (i.e.; drafted) or volunteering to work? Watanabe provides a report weak on specifics, and King Yaroslavsky releases it to try and make a point to show up the department's budget.

How about approving more deputy hiring Zev? Oh wait, that would cost more money than a current deputy because then you have additional benefits costs that you need to pay for. Instead, you require the department to draft and abuse deputies. Cheaper to pay a couple hundred dollars a day in overtime than paying more in insurance or retirement.

If you look at the numbers, 900 hours a year comes up to just over 16 hours a week. That's two 8 hour overtime shifts, or maybe a few court appearances for a deputy working at night. Is 56 hours a week really unreasonable? If you want to address the problem, it's lack of supervisor oversight for violations of an overtime policy, not the deputies who are working an extra 16 or so hours.

Zev, you and the other kings of the county make more money off the taxpayers than any politician in the nation. You'd better reassure me that you are worth it and work at least 56 hours a week.

I find this article a little silly. 'Full time" is generally considered 40 hours each week, but it is far from unheard of for someone to work for 60 hours each week: one-and-a-half times above full time. Since working the equivalent of an extra sixth months during the year- as these deputies did - is the same as working one-and-a-half times above full time as well, we simply seem to have a handful of deputies averaging 60 hours per week.

So why do we get a front page story in The Times just because 348 deputies in are working 60 hour weeks? And why are these deputies made out to be the problem? What is going on at the department if only 348 deputies in LAPD average 60 hour weeks. With all of the unsolved crime in Los Angeles, one might expect many more than just 348 among LAPD's several thousand deputies to be averaging of 60 hours each week.

Perhaps not all of the deputies need to work this much, but the article even admits, "in some cases, deputies working long hours were assigned to the department's tactical weapons team, narcotics unit or homicide bureau, which typically respond to unplanned events."

I expect the deputies in those units to be working at least 60 hours each week. If people on the narcotics or homicide bureau were the 8 to 5, punch-in, punch-out types, the already-intimidating streets of Los Angeles would probably be much more dangerous than they currently are.

Granted, the above quote does start out with the qualifying "in some cases" clause, suggesting that not all of these 348 deputies are using their overtime as efficiently as the proverbial super-cop. But there are always going to be a few people who "play the punch clock." Tightening down too strictly on overtime, especially in units like weapons, narcotics, or homicide might increase the percentage of unsolved crimes in those units. If not, it would at least increase the time it takes to solve important cases.

Whatever the case may be, it is highly unlikely that all of these deputies are just sippin' martinis during their overtime. I would guess that the majority of them are just working 60 hour weeks like so many other hard working people in this city who also have demanding jobs.

I understand the annoyance of the overtime abuse and lack of accountability, but you cop-haters are going to have to hire a writer or something. One or two are genuine, but the rest of the posts are flat out lame and unfunny. Come on guys, you can do better than that. I think...

Or better yet, why don't you join a police of sheriff's department and change the culture? You make it sound so easy a job to do, whattya say?

Law enforcement pension is figured on base salary, without overtime, to prevent what you are describing from occurring.

Thanks to budget cuts, there are not enough personnel to cover your safety.
Why don't you go stand in front of a person with a gun. If you're not willing to risk your life for the citizens of LA County, just deal with it.

Tab Cocovillea says: "Someone should be held accountable"

Yes, and like you say won't ever happen from the arrogant self-righteous group that they are. A group of hypocrites with no sense of humility and feel that it is their birth right to telling the public what to do yet lie, cheat and steal when the public is not watching closely. I've not meet an officer in SoCal that I felt I could respect and trust.

Note how all of this news is falling out as the current Sheriff gets ready to hide in his next job, protected by friends. The Sheriff is ultimately responsible for his fiscally irresponsible department, and yet don’t be surprised to see this infective leader blame the issue on his subordinates.

If what is being reported is true, then the county should be going after and FIRE all those who have FAILED in their positions regarding the subject of overtime, and then bill them personally to recoup the finical loses. Maybe even have to auction off their KMA-367 license plate covers.


Yaroslavsky’s staff found that, in 2008, at least 10 deputies more than doubled their salaries with overtime. One deputy with a base pay of $105,561, for example, collected an additional $130,214 in overtime, bringing his annual pay to $235,775.

Overtime is not factored into Pensions.

The people must understand that filling overtime spots with current employees is far more cost effective then hiring a new person to work it. When a new person is hired, the city and/or county must pay their salary, health insurance, and other benefits.

It is FAR more cost effective to pay CURRENT employees overtime. Just do your research people. When a person works overtime, the city and/or county does not pay extra into health or pension benefits.

Seems to be a lot of uneducated and government hating people in this forum.

The police moto, "To serve and protect.." It is so true that they serve their interests and protect their pocket instead of the public.

What about their union... Supposed to be founded on hiring more people to share in the opportunity at a better life. Thus, more members, more opportunity for all. These guys violate union basics and undermine unions. PERIOD

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