Chester Borough police overtime costs have gone from $12,000 to $36,000 over the last six years because the previous chief violated state labor laws, said current Chief Andre Kedrowitsch.
In his budget presentation to the Mayor and Council, Kedrowitsch answered questions about his overtime usage by first asserting the former chief’s numbers were so low because he did not follow procedure. “I refuse to do that,” Kedrowitsch said. “I’m not going to be dragged down in front of the labor board in Newark for labor violations.”
When Mayor Robert Davis asked how labor laws were violated, Kedrowitsch elaborated. “The schedule was not properly adjusted," Kedrowitsch said. "Overtime wasn’t used the way it was supposed to.”
Kedrowitsch began his presentation asking for financing to order two new vehicles, two toughbook laptops for his patrol cars and new servers and workstations that are newer and compliant with the attorney general security requirements. “Right now our computers have over 65,000 hours of service and we have no IT support. When something crashes I have to rely on the external drive I bought from Staples to keep our data,” Kedrowitsch said. “And if I need my computer fixed I have to call a guy down the street to come in and pay that expense.”
While the council was open to many suggestions, they committed to exploring options such as rotating the chief’s Durango back into service and using Cloud servers for storage. “I’m not a fan of purchasing hardware,” said Councilman James Robshaw, who also asked Kedrowitsch talk to Chester Township about which systems they use and whether they could be integrated. “If we have a solution a mile down the road, we may want to look into that.”
When the conversation of overtime began, Davis wanted to know how to budget for it. “If we’re going on these numbers here, we’re going to have to budget $45,000 next year,” the Mayor said. “I want to know how we are supposed to plan for this exploding cost.”
Kedrowitsch was quick to point out that the costs also include court time, and his officers are in court more because they are writing more tickets. “My officers are more aggressive now,” Kedrowitsch said. “They are writing more tickets and are in court more and I cannot control the courts.”
The Chief maintained he had a spread sheet that accounted for every dollar of overtime used and that the activity on patrol was necessary. Councilwoman Janet Hoven agreed. “Do I feel safer knowing they are out there and seeing them pull people over? Absolutely,” Hoven said. “We are spending more in overtime but we are also gaining more back through the courts. I just see this as the cost of doing business.”
“It is a clear fact that high visibility pushes larger problems away,” Kedrowitsch said.
The Mayor and Council will continue their 2012 budget deliberation at the Feb. 21 meeting.