At what cost?

At what cost?

Cash comparison: The $184,481.67 that Urbana paid in police overtime last year pales in comparison to what others spent:

CHAMPAIGN: $890,304.45 (Jan. 1-Dec. 6, 2016)

All told, 109 sworn officers worked a combined 15,919 hours of overtime in 2016.

U. of ILLINOIS: $413,775.35 (Jan. 1-Dec. 9, 2016)

The department expects to recoup about 50 percent of that for expenses it charges out, such as officers for special events.

DANVILLE: $311,866 (May 1-Nov. 30, 2016)

The department received back $176,471 for overtime paid for school resource officers, various contracts, etc.

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URBANA — From Jan. 1 through Nov. 25 of last year, Urbana police officers received $184,481.67 in overtime pay.

That's a roughly $40,000 increase from 2015, when it spent $143,521 on overtime for the entire year.

"Four murders created a great deal of additional overtime," Police Chief Patrick Connolly said.

For each murder, police averaged roughly 94 hours of overtime, though Deputy Chief Sylvia Morgan said police "can spend practically as much overtime on an attempted murder shooting as we do on a shooting that ends in murder."

In 2016, Urbana saw four homicides, including three in a two-week period in November. This prompted Mayor Laurel Prussing to call for five new police officers, which in turn set off a debate about when, or whether, to hire the officers.

The new officers would help with overtime spending, Connolly said, though not that much, as much of the overtime spending is uncontrollable.

Incidents might happen at the end of a shift, for example, and then the officer would have to type up the police report after hours, Morgan said.

"We can't predict when a murder is," she said, "We can't get rid of all overtime."

About $22,000 of Urbana police's total overtime spending was a result of callbacks and holdovers, which typically happen when an officer is sick and another officer has to cover. This amount remained fairly consistent from 2015 ($23,084) to 2016 ($21,613 through Nov. 25).

Presumably over the long run, the additional officers would help lower both crime and uncontrollable overtime spending, but Connolly said the bigger issue is that the agency is understaffed compared to other local police forces on a per capita basis.

"We are the lowest" compared to 15 other police departments in Illinois, he said.

Urbana has 55 police officers for 42,169 residents, or 1.304 officers per 1,000 residents. By comparison, Champaign has 124 police officers for 85,362 residents, or 1.453 per 1,000 residents.

Urbana is estimating each new officer will cost $98,000, which includes a base pay of $62,480, plus health insurance, pension and other start-up costs.

Mayor Laurel Prussing is proposing hiring the five officers to begin training in April, which will cost $122,500 in the fiscal year that ends June 30 and $466,285 next fiscal year.

In a letter to the Urbana City Council in advance of Monday's meeting, Prussing proposes paying for the new officers in this fiscal year by:

— Shifting $65,000 in remaining social services funding in the general fund to the township.

— Saving $60,000 in health insurance costs for the calendar year from switching providers.

And for the next fiscal year by:

— Keeping social service funding in the township to save $65,000.

— Using the $60,000 in health insurance savings for the remainder of the calendar year.

— Raising the hotel-motel tax a half percent to bring in an additional $75,000.

— Raising the packaged liquor tax a half percent to bring in an additional $55,000.

— Raising the fee on 85 video gambling terminals by $500 to bring in an additional $42,500.

For the next fiscal year, that totals $297,500, leaving another $168,785 to be funded. Prussing suggests increasing METCAD fees on phone purchases and bills, which would save $300,000 per year, and hoping the Illinois Supreme Court rules in the city's favor in its case with Carle Foundation Hospital, which would bring in an additional $1.4 million in property taxes per year.

Alderwoman and mayoral candidate Diane Marlin has said that while she's in favor of hiring more officers, she would prefer to wait until the next fiscal year to better understand the financial impact.

Monique Carter, who lives on Philo Road in Urbana, said the new officers can't come soon enough.

"There's too many shootings," she said. "I think they need to get them as soon as possible."

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John Joseph wrote on January 08, 2017 at 9:01 am

While adding a few more officers may not significantly reduce the overtime, the greatest impact additional officers may have are to the intangibles.  How effective are fatigued, burned out officers as compared to well rested and motivated ones?  Officers are human beings and they function as such.  I believe productivity and job performance would increase.  A tired mind is not a sharp mind and split second life or death decisions should be made with a brain that is alert and functioning to its fullest potential.  To me the issue is not as much about money as it is about safety and what taxpayers are willing to pay for it. 

pattsi wrote on January 08, 2017 at 11:01 am

Why is information concerning overtime at the Champaign County sheriff's office not included in this article?

We often compare outselves to similar municipalities and counties. What is the data for OT in Bloomington/Normal, Peoria, Quad cities, and respective counties?

aantulov wrote on January 08, 2017 at 10:01 am

More police officers will not neccesarity have an affect on the amount of shootings.

Perhaps creating a separate entitiy of enforcement that patrols but does not carry guns. This would cost less and provide information that may be preventative.

Everyone notices a patrol, it has an affect. Not knowing if the patrol is observing or reacting has the desired affect.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Yes it would be ethical for the Carle conglomerate to pay their taxes and I hope they are prepared should that happen. But in the mean time it would also be ethical if they would provide free drug and alcohol accessment, anger managment and general help to those agencies that deal with the homeless, recently out of prision and mentaly ill. Even if it is the most rudimentary of ways guiding churches to form programs effectively.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.






pattsi wrote on January 08, 2017 at 11:01 am

Actually it would be most useful if the two hospitals stepped forward to lead in creating an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) among the hospitals, MHB, the two municipalities, CUPHD, and several others to create permanent annual funding for a community crisis center that would address what you mention. For the hospitals to contribute financially would actually be less than the aggregated emergency room costs when these problems end up in the emergency room as a last resource.

John Joseph wrote on January 08, 2017 at 1:01 pm

The best sources of information are those who live in and inhabit a community.  Yet we see over and over again how, in many places, it is difficult to get these folks to provide information on problems they have knowledge of.  There are various reasons for the community population to be apprehensive.  To turn the tide, partnerships between the police and the community must be developed.  The police should take the lead in this endeavor to establish trust and bridge the gap.  Once a solid partnership is formed information will flow much more freely between the police and the community and many problems will be solved and prevented.  An atmosphere of mutual trust and respect between law enforcement and the citizens will create an uncomfortable environment for criminals.  Criminals outside of their comfort zones are like fish out of water.


Rapport building doesn't happen overnight.  It takes time and manpower.  But the long term effects will be worth it.  Communities should utilize this strategy to reduce crime and the fear of it, and to improve the overall quality of life.   



yeahokay wrote on January 08, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Yes! What Pattsi said is what needs to happen in this community, and it is one of our most desperate needs. Everybody continues to talk about the issues, and then when it's time to do something productive, they shift blame and talk about how somebody else should do it. 

Local Yocal wrote on January 09, 2017 at 5:01 am
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Should we pulling social service funding from the township? Township money is meant to go to the destitute, not necessarily carry the load the City of Urbana has voted is its priority. 

pattsi wrote on January 09, 2017 at 7:01 am

Just maybe a more fruitful concern might be to figure out how to aggregate various forms of governnment within th county to an end result of more efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Several Illinois counties are doing away with townships that are coterminous with the municipal boundaries. Why do we have township assessors rather than using the county supervisor of assessment to do this work so it will be done accurately and in a timely manner. There are other examples. All of these would release taxpayer dollars to be used toward programs that you consistently write about. Maybe the time has come the walrus says to think of many things and redirect energies.