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Independence City Manager outlines changes made after police department overtime investigation

Indep OT.jpg
Posted at 9:39 PM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-12 22:39:57-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Independence City Manager updated the city council Monday night on changes made after an investigation looking into the use of overtime by the city's police department.

The city manager, Zach Walker, updated the council during a study session Monday. The update comes almost two months after a special counsel wrapped up an investigation that revealed multiple oversight failures by the city.

In March, the KSHB 41 I-Team first revealed one police officer earned more than $169,000 in overtime for non-police related work relating to construction work at police headquarters.

Special counsel Dan Nelson said in July that the project was approved by the city. However, it wasn't clear to what extent the police officers had permission to remodel the facility.

Nelson made 30 recommendations as part of his report.

On Monday night, Walker walked the council through how to address the issues raised.

Walker said the city is focusing on five areas of focus: construction and facility management, procurement compliance, overtime policies and procedures, compensatory leave usage and workplace fatigue.

Twelve of the special counsel's recommendations were focused on overtime policies and procedures.

"Not surprisingly, the bulk of the recommendations from the overtime report lay in the overtime category," Walker told the council.

Walker said that a comprehensive overtime policy will address nine of those 12 recommendations.

"And [it] allow us to have much better system of checks and balances in place as it related to overtime," he added.

Walker continued that the final three recommendations rely on investing in a digital timekeeping system. That system is currently in the request for proposal phase.

Walker also announced a working group tasked with implementing the 30 recommendations, which included some city leaders from different departments. He added that the city hired two additional procurement staff members.

There was one final issue that Walker addressed: pension padding.

In July, special counsel Nelson said that during his investigation, city staff admitted they work overtime as a strategy to bolster their retirement.

"If we adopt policies in overtime and compensatory leave usage, the problem of pension padding should subside over time, however, because the LAGERs system is a state system — we cannot unilaterally change LAGERS policies," he said.