San Antonio Police Department overtime pay tops $6.9 million in 2017

SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio Police Department is authorized to have 2,443 officers and currently they are running 122 shy of that number.

The amount of money spent on San Antonio Police Department district fill overtime in 2015 was $1,153,191.

In 2 years, the cost jumped to $6,903,533.

"This number doesn't even reflect the overtime they're working when they're out on a late call," said San Antonio Police Officer Association President Mike Helle.

The increase in overtime paid reflects the deficit in patrol officers. Helle said the real cost could be safety.

"Your decision making abilities tend to hurt you sometimes because you are just too tired," Helle said.

Patrol officers can work a 40 hour shift plus 24 hours in overtime each week, but San Antonio Police Sergeant Jesse Salame said an officer could end up working more if a shift runs long because they're processing a scene. Salame said they are running short on the force, but there is no shortage of officers willing to work overtime to fill patrol shifts.

Referring to West patrol one night last month, Helle said, "they were short, they could not hire, they could not get anybody to work so they just had to run it short."

Salame said despite the 122 officer deficit, police response times are excellent.

Average response times for non-priority 911 calls (from the time a person calls 911 to the time the officer arrives on the scene) have gotten increasingly slower over the last 3 years.

The 2015 average was close to 16 minutes and by 2017 the average non-priority response time was closer to 17 minutes 45 seconds.

Looking at emergency 911 calls over the last 3 years, the monthly averages were highest in 2016 averaging between 7 and 7 and a half minutes.

That average improved by more than 20 seconds in 2017.

SAPD Average Response Times:

"We are going in the right direction but you always need it to be better," Helle said.

News 4 requested the times broken down by shift and by sub station to reveal which areas of town have the slowest response times, but police did not release them.

"This report won't tell you that because you are right, if you are taking the averages of everybody that high will get knocked out and then it would be more of a compliation of all the group," Helle explained.

"We don't want to tell criminals, we don't want to tell potential terrorists any areas where a response time might be 30 seconds slower," Salame said.

Ultimately, the Attorney General's Office will determine whether this information should be released to the public.

Salame did say that there is a need for a new sub station. Currently, there are six and there are plans to have a seventh in 2019.

"That one's going to primarily serve downtown and the surrounding areas so it's going to be called Center City," Salame said.

In response to questions about the manpower problem, Salame said the problem is not exclusive to San Antonio and also that there not a shortage of applicants, rather there is a shortage of qualified applicants.

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