Blog Posts > New Report Examines the Fiscal and Opportunity Costs of Police Overtime in Charleston, West Virginia
August 31, 2023

New Report Examines the Fiscal and Opportunity Costs of Police Overtime in Charleston, West Virginia

For Immediate Release: August 31, 2023

Contact: Sara Whitaker, 304-610-6391

Charleston, WV – In March 2023, the Charleston City Council approved a $111.6 million budget for the 2024 fiscal year, with one-fifth, or $23.0 million, going to uniformed Charleston Police officers. Of that $23 million, $2.6 million was allocated for ballooning overtime pay.

High overtime spending is not new for the Charleston Police Department. Since fiscal year 2020, CPD officers have claimed $9.1 million in overtime wages. Each year, officers have logged thousands more hours of overtime than the previous year. In fiscal year 2023, officers claimed a total of 78,004 additional work hours.

The WVCBP’s new report examines the Charleston Police Department’s growing spending on police overtime pay and how, with little formal oversight, it has resulted in rampant use among officers and greater policing of low-level offenses, disproportionately impacting Black residents and those living in poverty or experiencing homelessness.

The report was authored by WVCBP criminal legal policy analyst, Sara Whitaker.

The brief also explores the opportunity costs associated with allocating so much of the city budget to overtime pay and a uniformed police force much larger than similarly-sized cities in Appalachia. The line-item for Charleston Police overtime in the City’s FY 2024 general fund budget is larger than that for the economic development office, the public library, and the Coordinated Addiction Response Effort (CARE) Office combined.

Ms. Whitaker found that the police are often called to respond to issues that are a direct result of underfunding other city programs. “Ballooning police overtime is a symptom of inflated policing in the capitol city. Every dollar invested in aggressive enforcement of low-level offenses is a dollar not spent on city programs that prevent harm and increase public safety. This moment offers the public a chance to ask questions about the cost, size, and oversight practices of the city’s largest agency, as well as the broader priorities that residents would like to see our city address.”

Key Findings

  • Total Charleston police overtime pay has increased each of the last three years, with a total of $9.1 million in overtime pay claimed between FY 2020 and 2023.
  • In FY 2023, 49 Charleston Police officers claimed at least 600 hours of overtime, with 17 officers claiming more than 1,000 extra hours of work- the equivalent of 20 hours of overtime every week of the year.
  • The city’s FY 2024 police overtime allocation via the general fund was more than the allotments to the Coordinated Addiction Response Effort (CARE) Office, the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development, the public library, the public art office and projects, and all city festivals combined. 
  • Charleston’s 165-officer department is double or, in some cases, triple the size of departments in like-sized Appalachian cities. Huntington, WV, a city with about 1,500 fewer residents than Charleston, has 92 uniformed officers.
  • Chronic fatigue, which can be associated with long working hours, is linked to higher rates of on-duty injury, absenteeism, and metabolic syndrome which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Enforcement of low-level offenses increased by 144 percent between FY 2020 and 2022.

You can read the full report here.

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