Denver Sheriff's Department overtime costing taxpayers millions

$7 million paid out so far this year
Posted at 6:49 PM, Aug 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-03 20:49:42-04

DENVER -- New numbers from the Denver Sheriff's Department show some deputies are still making up to double their salary in overtime more than two years after an outside agency found it was a problem.

In the first six months of 2017, Denver taxpayers have shelled out nearly $7 million for deputy overtime payments. That's on pace with last year's record setting OT costs of $14 million. In 2015, overtime cost the city $11 million.

"That's a lot of money in overtime," Denver7 reporter Jennifer Kovaleski asked Denver Sheriff Patrick Firman. 

"It is a lot," said Firman. 

"You've been on the job two years now, why haven't you been able to put a dent in overtime?" asked Kovaleski.

"I think we have, we've really tried to manage it," said Firman.

Firma said that while this year's overtime is on pace with last year, the department is trying to cut back.

"We believe it will be less, we're working on controlling that and we've taken some steps. For example, last year we did an unprecedented 90 hours of in-service at the last part of the year," explained Firman.

Firman said last year, deputies were required to go through crisis intervention training - which added to last year's overtime costs. This year, he said deputies are only required to go through 40 hours and the department has worked to spread out the hours throughout the year.

Denver has paid Deputy Sheriff Jerry Jones the largest amount in overtime with more than $44,000 on top of his salary so far, this year.

Last year, Jones also topped the list with $84,378.11 in OT.

Then there's Deputy Graham Dunn, in the first six months of 2017, he's been paid $43,352.93 in overtime payments. The city wrote him a $106,309.38 check for OT last year - which is enough to hire two new full time deputies.

Sheriff Firman said a lot of it comes down to not having enough staff.

"We have posts that have to be filled so there's always deputies that are going to be willing to put in the extra hours," said Firman.

Sheriff Deputies working longer hours also means more stress, which can lead to dangerous behavior that has been reported inside the jail and ends up costing the city millions in settlements.

"That certainly a concern, we want to reduce that as much as possible -- but understanding that there's some of it that we just can't control," said Firman.

Firman said a major push for the department has been on deputy wellness.

"We've had a huge push this last year in terms of wellness, early outreach, we've hired a wellness coordinator to help staff understand the importance of taking care of themselves," explained Firman.

Firman also said deputies can only work 32 hours a week in overtime, and they are currently working to recruit more than 100 new deputies.