Fewer State Troopers Means $1.7M In Overtime At Illinois State Police

SPRINGFIELD, IL &#8211 Illinois State Police paid more than $1.7 million more in overtime in the last fiscal year than in 2010 as budget cuts and a shrinking trooper headcount took their toll.

The department logged 20,000 more overtime hours in 2013 than it did in 2010, as administrators relied increasingly on existing employees in the face of a shrinking budget. And the result, a troopers’ union spokesman said, is lower morale.

“The budget’s being slashed across the country,” said agency spokeswoman Monique Bond. “We have to hold the line and utilize the resources we have in place to the best of our abilities, because we can’t compromise on the safety of the people of Illinois.”

The 2013 budget set aside $383 million for state police operations, down from $417 million in 2010.

With the temporary personal income tax increase scheduled to end next year, the state police could face even deeper budget cuts. If the tax isn’t extended at its current 5 percent level, the budget would drop to $374 million.

Gov. Pat Quinn has pushed to make the tax permanent. If the effort succeeds, the agency could see its budget increase to $447 million.

Bond said the department is trying to keep its headcount up for either scenario.

“It’s a very fluid budget situation,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can to maintain cadet classes.”

In 2010, the state police employed about 2,000 troopers and paid for 71,033 hours in overtime. About 1,800 troopers in 2013 worked 91,256 overtime hours.

Bond said a big portion of the increase could be attributed to last year’s harsh winter weather.

“Because of the blizzard months or the inclement weather that we experienced and the 24/7 response that troopers were providing, there’s a likelihood that it had a big impact on overtime,” she said. “It’s likely a combination of reduction of resources and also varying factors that could include historical weather responses.”

Mike Powell, president of Troopers Lodge 41 of the Fraternal Order of Police, said those extra hours take their toll on officers.

“We have a severe morale issue with the state police,” Powell said. “Our troopers are among the best, but a human being can only take so much.

“If you’re working five, 10, 15, 20 days in a row, you get worn out. I don’t care if you’re a farmer or an accountant — you get burnt out.”

Records at the comptroller’s office show some state troopers get a substantial boost in income from the extra hours.

In 2013, Vincent Mandile was the top-paid state trooper in Illinois, bringing in $78,699 for the year, according to state data. The average salary for a state trooper was $57,121 in 2013.

Trooper Michael Vodika followed with $78,402 and Christopher Patrick earned $75,128. Bryce Benton Jr. received $74,499 for the year, while Jarrod Johnson got $73,419.

Overtime costs for higher ranking employees are even more substantial. Illinois State Police records show a master sergeant earning a base salary of $126,324 received $24,774 in overtime in 2013. A sergeant earned a base salary of $103,848 and took home an extra $32,007 in overtime pay. A lieutenant earned $135,168 and received $28,358 in overtime.

Unlike other state and local law enforcement agencies, the state police did not release the names of any of their sworn officers to Lee News Service.

“Release of the information requested would endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel,” said Lt. Steve Lyddon in an email response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The newspapers are appealing that decision to the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

Bond, meanwhile, said she doesn’t believe troopers are troubled by the extra overtime.

“I’m not aware of any morale problem,” she said. “I’m not aware of a morale issue. For the most part, the men and women of the state police are doing their jobs.

“I don’t think there’s a morale problem. Every day they get out there — they’ve got a commitment to deliver.”

But Bond agrees that the state police could use some additional troopers.

“Obviously we know that more troopers is more efficient, because it provides a more consistent and efficient environment,” she said. “We know how valuable they are. We know the Legislature understands and they continue to support our efforts.”

From The New Times