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SPD aims to cut overtime costs by $1 million

A blue sign is surrounded by melting snow on the ground as it stands in front of an office building.
Maxwell Mimaroglu
Snow melts on the ground outside of the City of Syracuse Department of Police Station in downtown on Feb. 16, 2022.

The Syracuse Police Department is aiming to trim overtime costs by over $1 million in the coming fiscal year.

Chief Joe Cecile outlined strategies to curb the rising extra hours, including shifting officers' schedules and reducing time spent at calls, during a Tuesday budget hearing before the Syracuse Common Council.

Cecile said he is optimistic about the strategy but noted the volatile workload of a police department.

“I don’t know if we can hit this. We’re going to try our best. But at the end of the day, when next year rolls around, police work isn’t predictable," Cecile said. "No one knew we’d have a January with three homicides, including a 10-year-old girl. No one can predict how much time we’re going to spend on shots fired, homicides, and things like that.”

But, the 38-year-department veteran said the department is changing how it responds, starting with limiting the time spent at calls.

“For the longest time, we used to do over and above. If the state mandated this, we would do more because we were trying to provide a service to the public. We could afford to do that when we had 500 officers. We can’t afford to do that anymore," Cecile said. "Some of that is pulling back on traffic accidents and various other calls. Consequently, fewer people have to be out on a shift because we’re not tied up on calls where someone can go on a computer and fill out the report for insurance themselves.”

SPD currently has about 380 officers, and is budgeted for 430. Around Labor Day in September, Cecile said the department plans to transition a 10-hour day, which should also help reduce overtime.

Meanwhile, he said the agency will continue its partnership with Liberty Resources to provide assistance to non-emergency calls. Cecile recalls about two years ago, a woman called 911 at least 42 times in 24 hours. He said they had to respond every time, but they often couldn’t help. Now, that’s changed.

“I went with Liberty Resources myself, because I had some experience with this young lady. Liberty Resources hooked her up with therapy, medicines, things that she was lacking. To my knowledge, she has not called again, and is doing fine now,” Cecile said.

Cecile said the department will also continue to increase the number of officers who’ve had crisis intervention training. He said the goal has been 20%, but now 30% of officers can handle those unique situations.

Councilors will vote on the overall city budget on May 8.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at