Council OKs audit of HPD overtime costs amid ongoing scrutiny

Council OKs audit of HPD overtime costs amid ongoing scrutiny

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The City Council has approved an audit of HPD’s overtime costs and why they continue to climb.

The auditor has a year to finish the review following a resolution adopted Wednesday.

The audit comes as the federal government also reviews HPD spending of federal CARES Act funds.

“They were spending millions and millions of dollars on vehicles when people were hungry and couldn’t pay their rent,” said Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters, who introduced the resolution calling for the audit.

The Honolulu Police Department, meanwhile, has defended the spending.

Ougoing HPD Chief Susan Ballard also admitted in an internal video in February that 263 officers were facing discipline for going over the allowed amount of overtime used to enforce emergency orders.

“All 263 officers will be issued divisional counselings because they did violate a departmental procedure,” she said in the vlog.

The city auditor already found an increase of about 38% in overtime costs between fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2019, which ended on June 30, 2020.

Overtime costs jumped from $27.7 million to $38.3 million ― and that didn’t even include about $20 million in overtime for COVID enforcement that was funded using CARES Act money.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury is now reviewing HPD’s spending of CARES Act funds.

Ballard said she turned over those records for the federal investigation and said she welcomes the city’s audit, too.

Waters said the results will hopefully help identify ways to curb overtime needs.

“We want to try to solve this problem because we cannot keep doing this,” Waters said, adding that part of the problem is likely an ongoing officer shortage.

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