Excerpts from the ChicagoSunTimes.com:

Chicago taxpayers spent nearly $210 million on police and fire overtime last year — and another $33.7 million on lump-sum payments to departing employees, most of them police officers. One retiring officer walked out the door with $276,053 for stockpiled compensatory time and another $9,236 for unused vacation days. Records show scores of other six-figure checks and hundreds of payments that topped $20,000.

In private industry, employees are routinely required to use comp time within a defined period of time. They are not allowed to accumulate a career’s worth of comp time and cash it out when they leave. City tradespeople and members of AFSCME get cash only for overtime. Their most recent contracts do not allow for comp time. Chicago police officers are exceptions to that rule.

Five months ago, the Chicago Police Department spent $67.6 million on overtime through the first six months of 2019 despite a 10-year high in staff and an all-time high in technology.

The mayor said she was angry and frustrated and planned to hold then-Police Supt. Eddie Johnson personally accountable for reining in an abuse that Chicago taxpayers can’t afford. Johnson is gone, fired for lying to the mayor about an  incident in mid-October.

The mayor’s attempt to put the police and fire departments on the hot seat about runaway overtime has not yet produced tangible results. Through Nov. 30, the city spent $131.2 million on police overtime, matching the 12-month total for the year before. The fire department spent $78.7 million through Nov. 30, a 16 percent increase from the 12-month total the year before and a more than sixfold increase from the $12.8 million spent on overtime in 2011.

A budget spokesperson said the spike was principally driven by 456 vacancies in the uniformed ranks and by minimum manning requirements in the firefighters’ contract that specifies at least five members are required on all apparatus and the number of existing companies which all must be maintained. The minimum manning requirement triggered the 1980 firefighters strike.  As of 2019, the CFD has eliminated the use of mandatory overtime that was once relied on to staff the five new ambulances recently added into service.

A police department spokesman said major structural changes have now been put in place in an effort to control overtime going forward. Police personnel finally started swiping in and out of work in September. Each commander is now given an overtime budget to manage. Every two weeks, that overtime spending is“audited within the Compstat process.