Overtime makes cops top earners for 2012
SCHENECTADY The city’s top earner in 2012 worked an average of about 68 hours a week, every week last year, according to city salary records.
Taking that top spot was city police Lt. Mark McCracken, who also serves as the department’s public information officer.
In 2012, McCracken earned gross pay of $171,423, which included $89,752 in overtime, records show. The overtime works out to an average of 28 hours a week, each week of the year.
Officer fatigue has been a concern in recent years as the number of hours worked has increased.
Those hours peaked in 2008, when the busiest officers worked an average of 90 hours a week, a year when the city overspent its overtime budget by 20 percent.
For 2012, though, McCracken was the hours leader.
For regular officers, the top two patrol officers were Peter Mullen, who came in 12th overall, and Michael Crounse, 17th overall.
Mullen averaged about 25 overtime hours each week, pulling in a total pay of $131,718, while Crounse averaged about 23 overtime hours each week, earned a total of $127,555. Each had a base salary of $66,673.
Police officials have said the 60-hour weeks aren’t as dangerous as the 90 hours some officers once hit. Work time is limited to 16 hours in one 24-hour period.
McCracken’s overtime as a lieutenant was mostly serving as a sergeant or patrol officer, filling in on shifts officers or sergeants passed on. When working those shifts out of rank, though, McCracken and others get paid at their normal rate, new city Police Chief Brian Kilcullen noted.
Sergeant salaries are 10 percent over patrolmen, lieutenants 20 percent.
“Having said that, these supervisors stepped up when we exhausted all other options to fill the positions,” Kilcullen said.
If no one takes a shift, then overtime is assigned.
McCracken, an 11-year veteran of the department, said he volunteers for the shifts only when he’s able to do so.
“If I’m tired, I don’t sign up for overtime,” McCracken said. “If I’m not fit to go on duty, I don’t go on duty.”
Each of the city’s top 10 earners for 2012 came from the Police Department. The first non-police employee was Fire Chief Michael Della Rocco, who came in 13th at $131,133, less than his budgeted $135,130.
Of the top 10, lieutenants came 1st and 4th; sergeants 6th, 8th and 9th and an evidence technician 7th.
Kilcullen said overtime is certainly monitored. He pointed to overtime in the investigative services bureau, which he said has been reduced in the last four years after an overtime policy was put in place.
“A lot of it is driven by having the need to adequately staff the patrol division,” Kilcullen said of the overall numbers.
He also noted that from a taxpayer’s perspective, funding for overtime is sometimes offset by grants.
Kilcullen came in at 23rd on the list, his assistant chief’s pay at $121,221, just under his salaried amount.
Assistant chiefs don’t get overtime. Assistant Chiefs Michael Seber and Jack Falvo, along with outgoing Chief Mark Chaires, each were in the top five, moved up on the list from other payouts from previous years.
Mayor Gary McCarthy said police overtime was in the nature of public safety, having to staff the department on a 24-hour basis.
“On one side, you have people willing to work,” McCarthy said. “On the other side, unfortunately, you get huge expenditures of public money to maintain some of the basic services in the community.”
The overall trend in overtime expenditures has been going down, something that he wants to continue, McCarthy said. Total overtime spending for 2012 was not available Monday.
He hopes to do that through data-driven management, putting police where there’s a clear problem.
In all, a total of 68 city employees made more than $100,000 in 2012, up from 55 in 2011. McCarthy attributed the jump to pay raises pushing more workers over the $100,000 mark when overtime is added.
Six employees earned more than $140,000.