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Tue Jul 25, 2017, 03:48 PM

Audit finds Howard County spent millions on unreimbursed police overtime costs

A county audit of the Howard County Police Department published this month found that the department did not consistently bill private businesses, most notably the popular concert venue Merriweather Post Pavilion, for overtime shifts officers worked to provide security at events.

The department spent $3.8 million between 2013 and 2016 on unreimbursed overtime and related costs for special events. The department bills for its services under the Uniform Services Police Detail Program, but according to the audit, it was "inconsistent" in choosing when to seek reimbursement for its services from private entities. It currently does not bill Merriweather Post Pavilion for services such as traffic control, but does bill the Mall in Columbia.

"The county should not be providing private entities with free policing," said county auditor Craig Glendenning, whose office conducted the audit. "I would think that Merriweather, if they have to tag on an extra few dollars to ticket prices [for security], then it's kind of a user fee at that point. Why should all of Howard County residents have to pay their taxes to provide policing at Merriweather?"

The audit looked at overtime and other non-regular payments made by the Howard police department and whether those payments were accurate. Auditors also evaluated how much overtime police employees worked and if it was properly approved, and if the department had policies in place to control overtime and recover costs when needed.

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/columbia/ph-ho-cf-police-overtime-audit-0727-20170725-story.html

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