- Associated Press - Thursday, September 7, 2017

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Little Rock is spending nearly $10,000 a day on a mandatory overtime plan for police aimed at tackling the city’s uptick in violent crimes.

Police Chief Kenton Buckner’s plan calls for 45 officers to each work four hours of overtime weekly, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The added patrols take place from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Buckner said he’s reviewing the increased overtime schedule every 30 days. He said the plan will continue as long as necessary.

The city could spend an estimated $1.2 million if the plan continues through December. The mandatory overtime began in August.

The Police Department’s $2 million overtime fund is covering the plan. The department will have to increase its allocation if the overtime plan carries over into 2018.

“The amount of money it is costing us to put additional police officers on the street is way down on the list of things for me to consider as it relates to public safety,” Buckner said. “While certainly money is always an issue, and I can’t act as if that’s not part of the equation, it’s not something that would deter me from making the decision that I feel is the right thing to be able to provide efficient police presence to our citizens.”

City Manager Bruce Moore said he expects the overtime to go over budget. He said he plans to ask the city Board of Directors to approve a budget amendment later this year.

Last month, the department saw a shortage of 80 officers. The department still has 55 vacancies.

Moore and Buckner said a fully staffed department could help reduce the cost of added patrols but that overtime will be needed throughout the year.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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