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Cost of overtime haunts UCSD campus cops

"Most of these overtime hours were not fully documented and/or pre‐approved"

Chancellor Pradeep Khosla with campus police
Chancellor Pradeep Khosla with campus police

Does the growing budget of UCSD's campus police department need a closer look? So may show a new university audit calling out officials for failing to monitor employee overtime costs adequately.

The report's findings coincide with a national movement questioning the costs and practices of campus law enforcement in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

At the University of Chicago, a June 12 student sit-in included calls for full budget transparency, a fifty percent expense cut, and the eventual elimination of the campus police force altogether.

In San Diego, the payroll costs of policing UCSD jumped 6.4 percent between 2018 and 2019, with a staff count of 94 – including 38 police officers – bumping the total to $8.6 million, according to the audit released March 25.

Overtime expenses fell by 3.2 percent during the period, but that was likely due to a hike in department staff numbers, the report says, adding that reining in payroll abuse calls for new enforcement measures.

"The increase in regular hours and a decrease in overtime hours appears to be a result of the Police Department hiring more staff in FY2018/19," says the report.

Despite the overtime drop, auditors faulted the school for failing to adequately track the practice, risking "excess payroll costs, which may have a negative financial impact on the Department and the University."

"Documentation of Overtime and over-schedules were not consistently maintained for Department management pre-approval as required by policy and collective bargaining agreements," the audit found.

Making matters worse, the document says, "Some overtime purposes were not documented in the timesheet system to justify business necessity."

Auditors say they found that "some employees routinely worked a high number of overtime hours almost each pay period. Most of these overtime hours were not fully documented and/or pre‐approved."

"Our analysis noted that six employees' overtime represented 29% of total overtime hours and 32% of gross overtime pay."

"Further review of the six employees with the highest amount of overtime disclosed that the employees had more than 750 hours of overtime coupled with a high frequency of overtime hours for a majority of the pay periods.

"For instance, out of 26 biweekly pay periods, these six employees had 17 to 25 pay periods in which they averaged between 35 hours to 70 hours of overtime a week."

The failure of university officials to police such potentially suspicious activity, per the findings, "may lead to abuse of overtime and unplanned payroll costs."

In response to the findings, "Management stated that some of the overtime was due to staff vacancies or various assignments, but they were working on filling staff vacancies to minimize overtime hours," according to the report.

"During this review, Management evaluated overtime causes and started taking appropriate steps to minimize overtime."

"We will contact you at the appropriate time to evaluate the status of the management action plans," auditors told campus officials.

UCSD's Chief of campus police is alumnus David Rose, who was highly praised by Chancellor Pradeep Khosla in a statement announcing Rose's appointment in July 2014.

"With his experience and knowledge of the university, David Rose is an exceptional choice to lead an agency that is absolutely critical to maintaining the safety and well-being of our campus community,"

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Chancellor Pradeep Khosla with campus police
Chancellor Pradeep Khosla with campus police

Does the growing budget of UCSD's campus police department need a closer look? So may show a new university audit calling out officials for failing to monitor employee overtime costs adequately.

The report's findings coincide with a national movement questioning the costs and practices of campus law enforcement in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

At the University of Chicago, a June 12 student sit-in included calls for full budget transparency, a fifty percent expense cut, and the eventual elimination of the campus police force altogether.

In San Diego, the payroll costs of policing UCSD jumped 6.4 percent between 2018 and 2019, with a staff count of 94 – including 38 police officers – bumping the total to $8.6 million, according to the audit released March 25.

Overtime expenses fell by 3.2 percent during the period, but that was likely due to a hike in department staff numbers, the report says, adding that reining in payroll abuse calls for new enforcement measures.

"The increase in regular hours and a decrease in overtime hours appears to be a result of the Police Department hiring more staff in FY2018/19," says the report.

Despite the overtime drop, auditors faulted the school for failing to adequately track the practice, risking "excess payroll costs, which may have a negative financial impact on the Department and the University."

"Documentation of Overtime and over-schedules were not consistently maintained for Department management pre-approval as required by policy and collective bargaining agreements," the audit found.

Making matters worse, the document says, "Some overtime purposes were not documented in the timesheet system to justify business necessity."

Auditors say they found that "some employees routinely worked a high number of overtime hours almost each pay period. Most of these overtime hours were not fully documented and/or pre‐approved."

"Our analysis noted that six employees' overtime represented 29% of total overtime hours and 32% of gross overtime pay."

"Further review of the six employees with the highest amount of overtime disclosed that the employees had more than 750 hours of overtime coupled with a high frequency of overtime hours for a majority of the pay periods.

"For instance, out of 26 biweekly pay periods, these six employees had 17 to 25 pay periods in which they averaged between 35 hours to 70 hours of overtime a week."

The failure of university officials to police such potentially suspicious activity, per the findings, "may lead to abuse of overtime and unplanned payroll costs."

In response to the findings, "Management stated that some of the overtime was due to staff vacancies or various assignments, but they were working on filling staff vacancies to minimize overtime hours," according to the report.

"During this review, Management evaluated overtime causes and started taking appropriate steps to minimize overtime."

"We will contact you at the appropriate time to evaluate the status of the management action plans," auditors told campus officials.

UCSD's Chief of campus police is alumnus David Rose, who was highly praised by Chancellor Pradeep Khosla in a statement announcing Rose's appointment in July 2014.

"With his experience and knowledge of the university, David Rose is an exceptional choice to lead an agency that is absolutely critical to maintaining the safety and well-being of our campus community,"

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Comments
3

UCSD likely will need more cops as its imminent expansion plan calls for a mammoth cluster of high-rise buildings -- from nine to 21 stories -- to be constructed at the farthest western edge of its campus bordering residential neighborhoods of La Jolla. The University in recent years has proven to be a bad neighbor -- constructing buildings along the grade of La Jolla Shores Drive that obscure public vistas of the Pacific Ocean at several points and now this humungous project. (It could be sited in the interior of the large campus.) The University is exempt from all Coastal Act rules and the prevailing 30-foot height limit for the area. Thus far UCSD has refused to meet with or respond to community planning group strong objections. Lawsuits are rumored. If ever there is a community meeting on this hot-button issue, UCSD probably will need more cops to maintain law and order.

June 16, 2020

Even though the university employs thousands of people, and has students measured in the tens of thousands, the count of police personnel sounds high. Why? Well, universities tend to be generally law-abiding places and have little violent crime. (There are more financial crimes committed in such institutions, and the uniformed cops don't get involved with those.) All the undocumented and unapproved overtime is just another example of how UC campuses are out of control. UCSD isn't the only one by any means. Khosla has plenty of scandals on his watch, and should have been replaced by now. The UC president, Napolitano, is resigning effective at the end of this month. As a lame duck, she hasn't been doing things that need doing, such as firing one or more campus chancellors, such as Khosla. No, she is leaving those messy situations for her successor.

I do wonder if this cop count includes the overzealous parking enforcement staff. All UC campuses have a parking "problem", and all charge plenty to park, and then enforce any/all violations with great, Gestapo-like vigor. When I was on that campus I don't recall those enforcers as being uniformed police, but that may have changed.

June 20, 2020

If the UCSD system was concerned with money they would take a hard look at the high cost of administrators and the number of professors that teach little having seniors or post grads actually teaching their classes. If you have a lot of overtime it is because you do not have sufficient staff to do the job.

June 23, 2020

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