Denton City Hall exterior for stock photo use

Denton City Hall.

Reforms are underway after an internal audit of the Denton Police Department’s overtime policies found a few soft spots.

City Auditor Umesh Dalal is scheduled to brief the City Council on his review Tuesday afternoon. In a written report filed with Tuesday’s agenda, Dalal noted that the review didn’t find anything improper in the department’s practices. While the review found some cost-saving practices were working well, it also found several opportunities for better management and reducing fraud risk.

In all, he made five recommendations, and the city manager’s office concurred with them. The reforms, if not already in place, are expected to be in place before the end of the year.

The audit covered the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, each with about 30,000 hours of police overtime. About 80% of the overtime goes to regular department functions — with about two-thirds of that devoted to investigations, the patrol division and neighborhood services. The other 20% of the department’s overtime goes to special events and outside-funded initiatives, including the city’s now-defunct red-light camera enforcement program.

Last year, a Denton Record-Chronicle investigation found that the red-light camera fund paid about $250,000 in overtime to four officers administering the program between 2014 and 2017.

According to the audit report, two recommendations were vital for the department: requiring that supervisors approve any overtime and segregating payroll duties.

Previously, some officers were able to self-approve their overtime. That practice has already ended, according to the audit report.

In addition, the department is in the process of separating payroll duties.

Previously, one individual was preparing and authorizing the department’s payroll. Because that payroll coordinator can and did make changes to employee schedules, and those schedules were automatically approved, the risk for trouble was high. Dalal said the audit found no evidence of abuse but recommended separating duties to follow best practices and decrease the risk of fraud.

The department is still updating its policies and procedures to reflect the changes, including codifying the maximum number of overtime hours an officer can work, whether for the city or for an outside entity. That work is expected to be finished by December, according to the report.

The final recommendation was related to the department’s use of TeleStaff, the city’s online timekeeping system. An administrative supervisor has already reviewed the department’s TeleStaff access and will review who has access quarterly to ensure accuracy.

The audit report noted that beginning in January, the department began running monthly overtime reports from TeleStaff. This practice greatly improved overtime monitoring by the chief and assistant and deputy chiefs. The department has already realized some savings with the new practice, including addressing the heavy overtime usage in the city jail.

The department also does well in calculating overtime and pays according to city policies. The auditors examined a statistical sample of 95 pay stubs to review compliance in that area.

The council meeting begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday and will be livestreamed on the city’s website.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

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