DPS overtime centralized during budget hearing
The lack of appropriate funding for the Department of Public Safety’s operation was central to the Senate and House joint budget hearing this morning, specifically overtime.
Police Commissioner Lefiti Pese said the Department needs funding to pay for Police Officers overtime.
It is not a new issue; despite efforts to secure funding, it has been a challenge. Lefiti did not elaborate on the difficulties but revealed that his office would submit a supplemental proposal to pay police overtime.
According to the Police Commissioner, an increase in the Police Department’s operating budget would allow them to pay for overtime pay and, at the same time, fill the vacant positions.
Senator Malaepule Fuega Moliga pointed out this issue is familiar, yet every year, the budget proposed for approval does not include overtime payment, which is a long-standing matter.
Malaepule, a retired Cop, said that it has been the norm that police officers not get paid for overtime work due to the lack of funds, although there are many times throughout the year that officers work around the clock, pointing to Flag Day events when officers must continue to work overtime as enforcement officers.
According to Malaepule, the DPS finance team should know this by now, and yet it does not appear as if it is being appropriately addressed.
He said overtime should be included in the budget annually.
Accompanied by Commissioner Lefiti, the Public Safety’s Finance Manager, Puni Vele, told Senators that he would look into this, adding plans to review the department’s operation and reminding them of the complexities of police work. He said that we’re asked to do everything they can with the resources they have.