News Story

Some Detroit Cops Claim They Are Working 16+ Hours a Day, 365 Days a Year

City investigates fraud as 1 in 5 claim more than 76 hours per week

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the comments of Sgt. Michael Woody, the spokesman for the Detroit Police Department. Woody contacted Michigan Capitol Confidential after this story had been published.

A Detroit police lieutenant reported that he worked the equivalent of nearly 17.3 hours on all 365 days of the city’s most recent fiscal year, according to records obtained from the city.

The documents show that this individual claimed to have worked 6,332 hours over a 12-month period.

He was one of 529 employees who reported being on the job for more than 4,000 hours last year, equivalent to least 77 hours per week every week. Some in the department reported far more hours. Of those, 45 reported working 5,000-plus hours (equal to 13.7 hours per day, 365 days a year) and three reported 6,000-plus hours.

Sgt. Michael Woody, spokesman for the Detroit Police Department, said after this story had been published that the city has an antiquated way of tracking the amount of hours employees in the police department work. He said the "FY gross hours" worked wasn't "straight hours" but included overtime hours factored by a 1.5 multiplier. Woody said that 8 hours of overtime would translate to 12 hours of "gross hours" worked.

The Detroit News has reported that the city has been investigating claims of overtime abuse in its police department. This Michigan Capitol Confidential report is the first to provide aggregate and individual employee hours figures, which were obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Overtime pay allowed some officers to collect far more than the base salaries they earn under the city’s contract with the police union, with a few collecting six-figure incomes based on their reported hours.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, police lieutenants earned a base salary of between $66,626 and $68,598 last year. But overtime can add substantially more. The lieutenant who worked 6,332 hours last year collected $151,192 in gross pay.

Union contracts allow police employees to take a certain amount of their overtime credit in compensatory time, which can be “banked” and paid out later.

A police “ident technician” reported 6,140 hours on the job in 2014-15, and a sergeant reported 6,028 hours — both more than 16 hours a day on average. The sergeant’s gross pay for the year was $128,135.

City records also show that one police sergeant who reported 5,537 hours had a gross pay of $105,921 and another reported 5,657 hours for $111,286.

One police officer is reported to have worked 5,863 hours — 16 hours a day every day of the year — for $107,602. Base salaries for that position range from $29,352 to $47,914 depending on seniority.

City records do show some employees working a standard 40-hour a week schedule and reporting 2,080 hours for the fiscal year. For example, an assistant chief of police reported 2,080 hours for a salary of $118,991.

It’s not uncommon for officers in big city police departments like Detroit’s to accumulate a lot of overtime. Besides crime fighting, police also are assigned duty for special events like concerts and political rallies, plus professional sports games.

The city of Detroit has not responded to requests from Michigan Capitol Confidential to verify that the number of hours reported by the city in the FOIA were accurate. The city violated the state law by not responding to a FOIA request within 15 business days that asked for more details on the amount of overtime the city was billed by the police department. John Roach, the communications director for the Mayor Mike Duggan, acknowledged receipt of an email. Roach said he had contacted the city’s FOIA coordinator Ellen Ha and Sgt. Michael Woody, Public Information Officer, for the Detroit Police Department. Ha and Woody didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.