U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Police Overtime: An Examination of Key Issues, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 1998
8 pages
Publication Series
This national study of police overtime examined how State and local police departments managed overtime and how local law enforcement agencies used Federal money authorized for overtime payment.
Study methodology included sending a questionnaire on overtime expenditures and practices to 2,183 State and local police agencies, which constituted a representative sample of police departments that had responded to the 1990 Bureau of Justice Statistics Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics Survey. Also, case studies of overtime practices in 11 police departments of various sizes were conducted. The study found that U.S. Department of Justice funding accounted for 60 percent of Federal support of State and local police overtime in 1994, with Operation Weed and Seed and the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local law Enforcement Assistance Grant Program being the primary providers of funding for local police agencies. Overtime was funded primarily through local sources; Federal funds accounted for 5-10 percent of local police overtime outlays, which were less than 6 percent of the departments' total budgets. U.S. police departments varied enormously in the attention paid to overtime management and their ability to produce information about it. Overtime can be controlled through a combination of analysis, recordkeeping, management, and supervision. Police managers should analyze overtime in terms of work done on paid overtime and on unpaid, or compensatory, overtime. Paid overtime increases policing activity, and compensatory time represents less policing, because it must be repaid by taking time and a half from other activities. Overtime should be viewed, within limits, as an unavoidable cost of policing. Concerns about overtime use should be addressed through improved management techniques. 9 references and 4 notes

Date Published: May 1, 1998