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Overtime slashed under Bergen Sheriff Saudino

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

SPECIAL REPORT: Overtime expenses for the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department plummeted by nearly 30 percent last year, thanks to a cut of nearly a third in total overtime hours, a review of Sheriff Michael Saudino’s salary records shows.

Bergen Sheriff Michael Saudino (CLIFFVIEW PILOT photo)

Overall overtime totaled $1.4 million, contrasted with a little over $2 million in 2010, for the department run by Saudino, who became sheriff last year after being elected the previous November.

Overtime hours for the sheriff’s department last year were 20,559 — a 32-percent drop from the 30,274 in 2010.

That included a 36-percent decrease in jail overtime hours, to 16,263 from 25,663 — which represented a decrease in costs to $1.14 million, by far the lowest jail OT payout in years, records show.

Overtime also dropped dramatically for officers who must serve notices or staff posts at the Bergen County Courthouse, from 3,042 hours to 2,415, cutting the cost to $143,375 from $192,476.

The only increase was in the Bureau of Criminal Identification — the unit called in to process crime scenes. That went from $125,471 in 2010 to $155,713 last year, when statistics showed certain countywide crimes increasing.

Chief among them was burglary, which requires the BCI to dust for fingerprints and collect other evidence for Bergen’s dozens of local police agencies, as well as for county authorities.

The increase for crime-scene collection overtime was more than offset by a drop of jail overtime, from $1.7 million to $1.1 million — the lowest figure in more than seven years.

Saudino deflected credit to his administrative staff.

“We came into this year knowing that we had a job to do. That job was to represent the interests of the taxpayers; to provide the highest standard of service at the absolute minimum of cost,” Saudino told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “However, as I have always said, I will not make cuts that could jeopardize public or officer safety.”

“Regardless of whatever the political climate may be, Bergen County taxpayers have my word that I will always make my decisions with their best interests in mind,” Saudino added.

Former Bergen Sheriff Leo McGuire was able to bring overall overtime costs from a whopping $2.7 million in 2005 to $1.73 million in 2006 — the previous low before last year. He cut jail OT costs nearly in half, although those figures began inching up again, with one noticeable drop, in 2008.

The overall overtime dollar figure for the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department held steady each year through 2009, when it came in at $1.79 million.

In 2010, it was back over $2 million, according to records supplied by Saudino’s staff.

McGuire, for his part,chopped overall overtime hours from 53,535 in 2005 to 31,573 the following year.

Those figures, like the money totals, held steadily through 2009 — and even in 2010 (30,273 hours).

But records show Saudino brought both figures down during a year in which cries were heard throughout the state of runaway public salaries and benefits.

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