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Minneapolis police officers continue to rack up hefty overtime as understaffing continues

Minneapolis Police Sgt. Stephen McBride was the department’s top earner in 2022, earning over $390,000 — more than three times his base salary.

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara discusses the state settlement with Minneapolis over racist policing. Photo by Deena Winter/Minnesota Reformer

By Deena Winter, Minnesota Reformer
Of the roughly 780 total employees of the Minneapolis Police Department, 70% made six figures in 2022— surpassing the year before, when 466 employees made at least $100,000.

Thirty-nine MPD employees — mostly cops and a few forensic scientists — made more than $200,000, with one sergeant making nearly $400,000. Nearly 500 made between $100,000 and $200,000 last year, according to an analysis of salary data from a public records request.

Minneapolis Police Sgt. Stephen McBride was the department’s top earner in 2022, earning over $390,000 — more than three times his base salary. He and two other sergeants and an officer logged so much overtime that they surpassed MPD Chief Brian O’Hara’s annual salary of $271,721.

Minneapolis teachers with a bachelor’s degree, by comparison, make about $77,000 annually.

The eye-popping police salaries are mostly due to spiking overtime. After overtime costs hit $12.9 million in 2022, the department has already racked up $9.1 million in overtime costs as of June 3 — not even halfway through this year.

Last fall, the department began paying double time — rather than the traditional time-and-a-half — for “critical staffing overtime.” An MPD spokesman said that has been a factor in increasing overtime since it’s often used to cover gaps in staffing.

O’Hara — who took over as chief in November 2022 — also rolled back restrictions on overtime instituted in the spring of 2022 by then-Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman. She had issued a new policy limiting overtime for the remainder of the year, saying she wanted officers to stay healthy and have enough time to recharge.

With some exceptions, Huffman’s policy banned officers from working all seven days in a week, working more than 16 hours in a row or putting in over 74 hours per week. The policy also covered contract and off-duty work, where officers make extra money.

Huffman’s policies were meant to prevent mistakes: Working too much can lead to fatigue that can “heighten pre-existing biases, increase complaints and use-of-force incidents, impair driving performance and in general lead to impairment of performance of routine skills,” according to a 2019 MPD audit of off-duty work.

When former police officer Mohamed Noor clocked in for a 10-hour police shift on the 2017 night he shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk in south Minneapolis, he had just finished a seven-hour shift moonlighting as a security guard, with just 90 minutes off in between.

New boss, plenty of overtime

On Dec. 5, O’Hara repealed Huffman’s requirement that employees have at least eight hours off every day and her ban on working more than six days in a row.

O’Hara told the Reformer he temporarily rescinded Huffman’s policy to sufficiently staff the streets.

“Overtime is a part of everyday staffing,” he said. “Overtime is a part of what’s necessary regarding investigations of serious crime and shooting and homicides as they happen. It’s at a consistently high level.”

The department has lost hundreds of employees since George Floyd’s police killing three years ago, with additional cops out on disability leave. To deal with the short-staffing, officers are putting in mega overtime hours.

MPD overtime ballooned from $6.4 million in 2019 to $10.3 million in 2020 — after Floyd’s murder sparked protests and riots.

MPD overtime was even higher in 2021, at $12.8 million, as people began suing the city over officers’ conduct during protests, and officers began leaving the force in droves, retiring early, often with claims of post-traumatic stress disorder. That year, then-Chief Medaria Arradondo said the city lost the equivalent of an entire precinct worth of officers, leaving the department unable to respond to violent crimes and property crimes in progress.

The department has lost about 300 employees in the past three years, according to city statistics.

O’Hara said he rescinded some of his looser overtime policies in accordance with the settlement agreement with the state Department of Human Rights after state investigators found a “pattern or practice” or racist policing in the department. A judge has yet to sign off on the agreement.

MPD documents indicate O’Hara agreed to limit the number of hours worked by officers to 16 hours per day and 74 hours per week. They can only work more than 74 hours per week with the approval of the police chief or a designated deputy chief.

Most overtime is voluntary, but officers are sometimes required to work overtime for major crimes or during civil unrest. An MPD spokesman said all officers are now required to work eight hours of overtime per month for Operation Endeavor to tackle violent crime.

MPD says the operation is working: Through mid-June, homicides have decreased by nearly 30% compared to last year, gunshot wound victims by 35%, and carjackings by more than 40% from a year ago, according to city data.

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