A much-anticipated city of Fresno internal audit reveals that police officers taught classes at Fresno City College while on city time. However, those instances may have been more of a timecard issue than double-dipping.
City Manager Wilma Quan called for the audit after receiving (along with Mayor Lee Brand) an anonymous email alleging officers were working second jobs while on city time, as well as exceeding outside work hours per department regulations.
The audit found that at least nine officers taught more hours than allowed and nearly every employee did not have the proper city permit allowing them to work outside hours.
“The Fresno Police Department takes the findings of the audit very seriously and has launched an internal affairs investigation into the audit team’s findings,” the department said in its response to the audit.
Report Finds Timecard Irregularities
The auditor’s report released Thursday morning looked at the time period from Jan. 1, 2015, through April 30, 2018. Councilman Miguel Arias pushed for its release during a city budget hearing last week.
The auditor examined 20 department employees who taught at FCC. They found four part-time investigators had overlapping timecards, ranging from 13 to 344 hours, or overpayments of $299 to $7,923.
In the auditor’s report, an unnamed deputy chief explained that hours recorded on the timecard do not necessarily reflect the actual hours worked.
“The department cannot verify whether or not the Background Investigators were actually on City time during the hours they reported as working for the City on their timesheets. It must be noted that although these individuals did not accurately report their time worked for the City, their timesheets were signed off by their supervisors,” the report said.
The audit found that one patrol officer appropriately used accumulated leave time to teach the classes, but one officer did not, resulting in 10 overlapping hours and an overpayment of $446.
Another category of department employees teaching included officers on special assignment. The audit found three such officers with overlapping hours. However, the deputy chief explained in the report:
“These individuals could have flexed their schedules as needed to teach courses at FCC, but such adjustments are not documented. Therefore, Internal Audit could not verify if the payments listed in Table 3 made for the hours that appear to overlap were appropriate.”
The audit could not determine whether another 10 officers on special assignment taught while on the clock, as they “do not record the days or times they actually worked.”
The auditor recommends the department establish policies for accurate timekeeping and take steps to recover the overpayments.
In its response, the police department says changes have already been implemented.
“This has been corrected and all background investigators have been directed to submit City time sheets that accurately reflect their work hours. Policy will also be updated to ensure all employees are aware of the policy and are complying with it,” the department says in the auditor’s report.
The department also says its scheduling program (known as OTTO) does not have a mechanism in place to adjust the timecard to reflect flex time used to teach.
Permits and Hours Exceeded
The report found that only one of 18 officers who needed a permit from the city, per the Fresno Municipal Code, obtained permission for outside employment.
The code also states employees may only work a maximum of 16 hours per week outside the scope of their job. The audit found nine officers who exceeded that total.
One officer worked 64 weeks in excess of 16 hours in the approximately 173 weeks the audit examined.
The audit recommended taking “appropriate disciplinary actions against the officers who did not maintain their work permits and those who worked more hours than allowed by law.”
In its response, the department said it will begin auditing employees who reported outside employment to ensure they have a permit and are not exceeding hours.
The department said “appropriate disciplinary action will be taken” if violations are found.
Chief Jerry Dyer sent GV Wire this reaction via email:
“In response to the City of Fresno audit, the Fresno Police Department conducted an additional audit by an Internal Affairs Sergeant in order to drill down deeper into the findings and gain insight from the employees involved.
The Police Department audit determined that each of the employees had received supervisor approval to use flex hours when teaching and there was no evidence that officers taught at the FCC police academy while receiving pay from the city of Fresno. This was verified by the employees supervisors. The FPD audit acknowledged the department’s inability to track the flexing of hours through the use of our current software system. Measures are currently being taken to enhance flexibility with this program.
The internal audit also determined that over the 3 1/2 year period, certain officers failed to renew their work permit yet continued to teach at the police academy. In addition, some of those officers worked in excess of their allowable hours. This is accurate.
Immediate steps are being taken to ensure this does not happen in the future and corrective actions are being taken against those in violation.
The internal audit was extremely helpful and will serve to make our department better in the future.”