Sunnyside police sees drop in OT costs, but still over budget

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- Sunnyside police has a tough challenge: police this town with four fewer officers. Two are on paid leave. One resigned. And one is hurt.

Overtime expenses has been nearly $20,000 over budget.

"This is not an eight to five job," said City Manager Donald Day. "We have to provide services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

KIMA compared overtime costs from January to September since 2010. It's consistently dropped every year. The biggest drop in costs was nearly 50% last year.

Sunnyside said the overtime wasn't just for routine patrols. It's also been for training, extra security at the Cinco de Mayo parade, and an officer-involved shooting.

Sunnyside's city manager will soon require a monthly report of overtime from police. But overtime isn't just about the added expense.

"Should the public be worried that these officers are overworking themselves?" KIMA asked.
"No," said Don. "Actually we've done a tremendous job in reducing that stress."

Sunnyside said supervisors make sure those clocking overtime get enough time off between shifts, and also rotate those working more than 40 hours.

"They've got to be able to go home, get rest be ready to come back to work fully functional," said Don.

Sunnyside is considering raising the police overtime budget next year. The budget would be close to $141,000. That's more than a 40% increase.