Cincinnati police officers boost take home salaries with overtime pay; captains average the most

20 officers earned more than $20K in OT in 2013

CINCINNATI – A police captain was paid $211,427 last year – despite the fact he worked less than five months before retiring.

And two police specialists – the rank just above police officer – earned more than $100,000 each.

 The amount many Cincinnati cops take home in their biweekly paycheck can be thousands of dollars more than their base pay, according to a WCPO analysis of 2013 Cincinnati police payroll records.

The reasons for the sometime dramatic spikes in pay are many: A series of contractual requirements with the police union, escalation of violent crime in pockets of the city and the nature of the job where work is inextricably tied to unpredictable crises.

Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said overtime spending is practical, particularly compared to the Columbus Police Department, where top overtime recipients could earn up to $70,000 per year. Blackwell came to Cincinnati last year after a 26-year career with the Columbus department.

 “It’s really reasonable, and I think we’ve been very prudent with taxpayer dollars, and in fact, we’ve been able to give money back to the city,” he said.

Police payroll records, obtained by WCPO under a public records request, show how it is possible for police officers to earn large sums of overtime dollars added to their base salary, even at a time when the police department and other city agencies are facing budgetary demands and struggling to cut back on overtime spending.

“We hold people accountable. The captains know we just don’t have a blank-check mentality, by responding to crime by just throwing dollars at it,” Blackwell said.

Maki Haberfeld, professor and chair of the Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration department at the John Jay College of Criminal in New York, said that for a police department the size of Cincinnati’s, total overtime spending isn’t high, but she did question how the pie is divided.

“You shouldn’t have such a fraction of officers earning overtime, there is something wrong with the deployment here,” she said. “If they’re not in a specialized task force, why only a select few earn a lot of overtime? This appears to me that the pie is not equally divided.”

Insiders can see view an interactive database that shows, by rank, how the pay breaks down and who made the most money in 2013.

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