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Syracuse Police Department surpasses overtime budget in just eight months

Syracuse Police Department Headquarters.
Syracuse Police Department Headquarters.

The Syracuse Police Department used all $5.4 million of its overtime budget in just eight months.

Syracuse Police Chief Joe Cecile notes they started the budget year with $2.4 million less than they had asked to be included in the budget. He said the largest driver in overtime is patrol minimum staffing. He also said the department was adjusting to the new ten-hour shift schedule, implemented in September.

"Any time you implement a major change like this, it's probably going to cost money at the onset, but not in the long run," Cecile said. "More specifically, in this case, we implemented in September, which meant we were still dealing with summertime issues, all the crime, all the gun violence. We also had a bunch of people who had already put in were their holidays and other days, which we were contractually obligated to give off when the holidays rolled around."

Other drivers of increased overtime use came from things like festivals and parades, drug investigations, and protests and demonstrations like those held regarding the Israel-Hamas war.

Councilor Chol Majok, who chairs the public safety committee said part of his concerns were the changes in schedule were out of concern and appreciation for officer safety — especially when it comes to their health. He questioned why the plan to save money on overtime ended up failing.

"It seems to me that that has not happened because if overtime is this much the safety of officers, it's a problem," Majok said. "How do we address that considering that that was one of the major reasons as to what was driving the changes of of of schedule?"

Cecile noted the budget request for the upcoming fiscal year will be larger than previous requests.

"Because we've had ARPA and we had other grants the first time ever, all of our bodycams, the entire amount is going to be on our next budget, $1.4 million on our next budget, never there before because it was being paid for by other moneys, but now would be part of our budget," Cecile said.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.