Monday, September 22, 2014

Investigation taxes sheriff’s overtime costs

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 8/28/2013

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department will be keeping a close eye on deputies’ overtime accrual, Jeff Richards said.

The manpower the sheriff’s department used during a quadruple homicide investigation in early May has taken quite a chunk out of the amount of overtime pay the sheriff’s office had budgeted for this year, Richards, Franklin County sheriff, said.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department will be keeping a close eye on deputies’ overtime accrual, Jeff Richards said.

The manpower the sheriff’s department used during a quadruple homicide investigation in early May has taken quite a chunk out of the amount of overtime pay the sheriff’s office had budgeted for this year, Richards, Franklin County sheriff, said.

The homicide investigation began when three adult bodies were found May 6 and May 7 at a residence at 3197 Georgia Road, west of Ottawa and later identified as Kaylie Bailey, 21, Steven White, 31, and Andrew Stout, 30. The body of 18-month-old Lana Bailey, Kaylie Baylie’s daughter, was discovered about dusk May 11 in Osage County by an Osage County Sheriff’s deputy. Kyle T. Flack, 28, was arrested by Franklin County Sheriff’s officers May 9 after being apprehended in Emporia and is being charged with two counts of capital murder, four counts of murder in the first degree, one count of rape and one count of criminal possession of a firearm.

“[The sheriff’s department] did spend a lot on overtime during [the time of the investigation],” Richards said. “That doesn’t include just the regular time. We also were pulling people away from their normal duties, so that does affect the budget.”

The amount budgeted for overtime pay for 2013 was $90,000, Richards said, forcing him to keep a close watch on overtime hours for the remainder of the year.

“I’m going to guess [the amount of overtime] is over $15,000,” he said. “I watch the budget pretty close and obviously we’re not going to have people work overtime unless it’s something that absolutely has to be done, but public safety comes first.”

The sheriff’s office worked almost twice as many overtime hours as the Ottawa Police Department, Richards said.

The Ottawa Police Department logged about 325 hours of overtime, Ottawa Police Chief Dennis Butler said in an email, coming out to $10,725 in overtime pay.

“In addition, I had approximately eight employees assigned full-time during regular shifts,” Butler said. “Total wages would be about $18,725.”

That estimate is conservative though, Butler said. Increased benefits compensation, fuel, utilities from hosting up to 150 investigators at times and other expenses were not included, he said.

“It is safe to say that it cost the city more than $20,000,” he said. “Future costs will include court overtime, additional investigation as requested by prosecutors, etc.”

During the investigation, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office received help from the Olathe Police Department, Kansas Highway Patrol, Overland Park Police Department, Ottawa Police Department, Major Case Squad and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, Richards said. Though most departments that assisted in the investigation did so on a volunteer basis, the Franklin County Sheriff’s office did receive its first bill from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office for their help with crime scene investigation. The bill was just under $25,000, Richards said.

“What we’re being billed for is not the departments coming down. It’s the lab cost and the crime scene people,” he said. “Normally we could use KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigation), but they weren’t available to come out and we needed somebody.”

The sheriff’s department has people who can process some DNA and fingerprints, Richards said, but didn’t have enough people to process a crime scene of the magnitude the department was facing.

“It’s not just a matter of we don’t have the training, we don’t have enough people,” he said. “Johnson County has a crime lab, and although we do have people that can process scenes for fingerprints, DNA — they can do that, but this was at a magnitude that was much larger than we had the capability to do on our own. We needed the outside help.”

The money to pay for the invoice from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office won’t come out of the sheriff’s budget, but rather out of the county’s general fund capital budget, Richards said.

“... This is not the type of thing to have a line item in our budget at all,” he said. “This was not budgeted for in anybody’s budget.”

Having no way of knowing an event of that magnitude would take place, Richards said, he has made some slight changes to the sheriff’s 2014 budget.

“The 2014 budget was being worked before I came into office,” he said. “We did a little tweaking on [the 2014 budget] to increase a couple things where we thought we might need.”

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to pay the bill from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office using funds from the general capital fund. Richards said he anticipates more invoices coming from their crime lab as the Flack trial continues.

The general capital fund is a reserve fund the county has, Lisa Johnson, Franklin County administrator, said.

“We don’t know what [future invoice] amounts will be,” Johnson said. “I think we have adequate reserves to cover all that’s needed.”

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