Following news of rampant overtime overages at the Honolulu Police Department, City Council Chair Tommy Waters is seeking an audit of the department’s overtime policies and procedures.

In a resolution introduced on Thursday, Waters cited Civil Beat reporting showing that some officers have been able to more than double their base pay and earn more than the mayor and police chief. The resolution also notes that HPD overtime costs increased 38% between Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 – from under $28 million to over $38 million.

Honolulu City Council chair person Tommy Waters quotes his friend Billy Kenoi during session today.
Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters quotes his friend Billy Kenoi during session Thursday. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

HPD has also spent millions of CARES Act dollars on overtime during the pandemic, and dozens of officers exceeded department-mandated overtime limits. Four officers were accused of filing for CARES-funded overtime without actually having worked all of the time.

All that overtime pay factors into the retirement payments of veteran officers who joined the department prior to July 1, 2012, Waters’ resolution states.

“The Council believes appropriate HPD overtime policies, protocols, and regulations should be in place to ensure that HPD overtime expenditures are just, fair, and appropriate, and for purposes of ensuring the public that the opportunities for HPD officers to earn overtime pay are distributed equitably and that overtime work is authorized only as necessary,” the resolution states.

The resolution asks for a performance audit addressing whether HPD policies and procedures ensure that overtime privileges are not abused and providing recommendations for reducing overtime compensation. The city auditor serves at the pleasure of the Honolulu City Council.

In a statement, Waters commended police officers’ hard work to keep the community safe but said it is in the public’s interest to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent effectively.

“In the matter of officers earning overtime pay, we want to be reassured that the opportunities to earn overtime pay are distributed appropriately, equitably, and justly to all officers,” he said.

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