Letter about Police Communications: Just Wondering?

I take note of the letter currently in the Coral Gables Gazette about the staffing, overtime costs and overtime demands in the Communications Department.  The full letter can be found in the Coral Gables Gazette.   The following are some relevant extracts from the letter.

In January of 1999 the City built a beautiful communications center on the 4th floor of the police department.  At the time of the move there were 21 communication operators.  The staffing requirement at that time was 30 operators 10 per shift. The move to the new center was done with 9 operators less than what we needed. The operators were informed that 12 hour shifts were necessary for about a month due to the transitional period from going from a card system to completely being computerized.

In January of 2000, a few operators were hired and the mandatory 12 hour days were reduced to a mandatory 8 hours a week in overtime.  As the trainees came out of training the mandatory overtime went down to 4 hours a week and eventually the mandatory overtime was no longer required to run the center. Presently overtime is still necessary for staffing purposes as we are still not completely staffed due to some of the new hires quitting or not successfully completing the training process….

…At this time the department is still not fully staffed and we are still working overtime on a volunteer basis…

Regardless of what the City Manager has said, there have been measures put in place to decrease the overtime cost in the communications section. This includes a reduction in minimum staffing, reducing the amount of compensatory leave you can earn a month and revamping the training program. Based on the move and upgrade, to the new Communications Center, this situation was imposed in order to fully staff the center and provide the residents with the exceptional service they have always been use to…
I don’t completely understand the arguments (nor do I know what information was presented at the referenced Impasse Hearing).  But I have looked at the current and recent past budgets.
  • Exclusive of overtime pay, the average operator costs the city about $79,000 annually, including an average salary of $47,974 and benefits of $31,183.
  • The number of communications operators positions has remained steady at 32 from 2006 and then 33 to the present.
  • The city manager’s budget has cut overtime to total of $330,000 compared to a budgeted amount of $560,000 in 2007.
  • This looks like good management to me given the city’s financial situation.  Also, it would seem that the city is doing its best to keep the communications unit fully staffed although one always has people coming and going for different reasons.



About Stephen E. McGaughey
International consultant in economic development programs and projects

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