The Baltimore Board of Estimates has approved $21 million dollars to cover police overtime costs. The money comes from surplus tax revenue and Mayor Catherine Pugh says it's needed because the Police Department is about 700 officers short.
“We are allocated for about 2800 police officers—we don’t have that at this point,” said Pugh. “If we had that, we wouldn’t have as much overtime as we have.”
Protesters at City Hall said the money is needed for other things like the affordable housing trust fund.
“Twenty-one million dollars we don’t have for schools, we don’t have for affordable housing—we don’t have for anything else when we ask for it, but it’s more than willing to go to police,” exclaimed one demonstrator.
Mayor Pugh says right now there is a need to address the police shortage. The overtime spending decision must still be approved by the City Council. According to public records, the police department exceeded its $16 million budget for overtime pay for the fiscal year that ends June 30. In March, city Budget director Henry Raymond said the police department had spent more than $36 million on overtime during the fiscal year. A final overtime tally won’t be known until the fiscal year ends. Next year’s budget will include earmarks of some $20 million for police overtime. Raymond said he was expecting the police department to live within its means.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the city law department is currently auditing the police department’s overtime as part of a lawsuit and a federal civil rights decree that requires the agency to study its staffing.