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A Million Dollars a Month in California Overtime: How Much is Fraud?

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San Francisco, CACalifornia overtime laws exist to protect a worker's right to California overtime pay—but there are always those who try to take advantage of the system. Recently, a handful of officers and civilians employed by the San Francisco Police Department were accused of the mismanagement of overtime in a department that sees more than $1 million dollars in overtime doled out each month—a figure confirmed by the San Francisco Controller's Office.

Officials close to the investigation have refused to release details of the allegations, according to a story earlier this month in the San Francisco Chronicle. However, sources told the newspaper that the probe into overtime abuse by officers and civilians may result in criminal charges.

According to the Chronicle, some of the alleged abuse involves overtime payments for reported off-duty security work for which the department is reimbursed by sponsor and private companies. The latter allows officers to make extra money on their days off on a freelance basis—with the support of the department—and earn a negotiated fee through the department from the sponsor or company involved.

However, off-duty security work is not a normal function of the department as it relates to its policing mandate with the community, and those extra hours should not fall under the category of overtime.

Sources reported to the Chronicle that some of the fraud involves individuals who were responsible for the sorting of records in the Records Management Unit on overtime paid by a grant. The records were later found unsorted and languishing in a filing cabinet.

Upon learning about the reported abuse of overtime, Chief of Police George Gascon ordered the creation of a Professional Standards Unit to handle the probe.

The unit has randomly been checking overtime cards. Gascon reportedly told people within the department that any documented abuse would be reviewed criminally before internal misconduct allegations are sought.

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