A budget crisis in Broward County has top officials pushing Sheriff Al Lamberti to cut $50 million from his budget.

Broward County’s Sheriff’s Office spent almost that much in overtime last year, nearly $30 million.

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And the CBS4 I-Team discovered that Broward County’s neighbor, Miami-Dade Police Department spent more than twice what Broward County’s Sheriff spent in overtime.

Metro Dade spent more than $72 Million per year for two years in a row, just on overtime.

CBS4 I-Team investigator Stephen Stock showed his results to Miami-Dade’s top cop, who vows to crack down on excessive overtime.

It was one of South Florida’s most high profile criminal cases in recent years. The fatal stabbing of 14 year-old Jaime Gough by his friend Michael Hernandez at Southwood Middle School.

One of the lead detectives on the case who interviewed Michael Hernandez and who later testified in his murder trial was detective Salvatore Garafalo, a 27 year veteran of Miami-Dade’s Police Department.

For all his hard work over the years, Detective Garafalo had worked his way up to a base salary of $79,430 according to Metro Dade payroll records.

But in 2007 payroll records show Detective Garafalo took home a lot more in pay that that.

Payroll records obtained by the CBS4 I-Team show Garafalo was one of the top earners in the entire Metro Dade Police Department, taking home gross pay of $204,206 dollars. That included $101,428 in overtime in 2007.

That means, according to the payroll records, Detective Garafalo’s gross pay almost equaled that of the top boss, Metro Dade Police Director Robert Parker, who earned $231,629 in 2007.

I-Team investigator Stephen Stock asked Director Parker about that. “He’s making almost as much as you that just seems out of whack?” Stock asked.

“Well, it might seem out of whack,” MDPD Director Parker said. “But as long as they’re (officers) within the regulations (it’s acceptable). You may find that they have a high case load or they have cases that go to court a lot or whatever reason.”

An analysis of Metro Dade’s Police payroll records by the CBS4 I-Team does raise questions about how much money, overall, is paid in overtime every year and questions about how many officers might be exceeding the rules of how many hours they can work each week.

After the I-Team raised those questions Director Parker agreed that some changes had to be made.

“Believe me sometimes we’ll find that there’s an occurrence like this a high amount of overtime and we’ll make some adjustments,” Parker told I-Team investigator Stephen Stock.

In fact, Parker says he did just that after the I-Team showed him the computer analysis of his overtime payroll numbers.

For instance, the I-Team analysis showed: Four other Metro Dade officers along with Detective Garafalo took home more than one hundred thousand dollars above their base pay in overtime and other pay in 2007.

The range in overtime and extra pay extending over $100,000 went from $103,795 to $124,702. Only one of those officers was ranked as high as a Lieutenant. 42 Metro Dade Police Officers made so much in extra pay they doubled their salary or more.

In 2008, nine Metro Dade officers took home more than one hundred grand in OT and other pay above their base.The range: $100,146.08 up to $120,964.81 in overtime and other pay. Only four of those officers ranked as high as sergeant. There were no higher administrative positions on that list.

In 2008, as a comparison, payroll records show Detective Garafalo took home $93,076.20 in extra pay.

In all of 2008, payroll records show 45 Metro Dade officers doubled their salary or more in extra pay.

“We have looked at the ones that you find to be rather glaring, and we’ve made some adjustments with virtually every one of these employees,” Director Parker told the CBS4 I-Team.

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The I-Team discovered during the last two years Miami Dade PD paid out more than $72 million each year in overtime.

Payroll records show Metro Dade paid out $72,516,812.17 in 2008 in overtime and extra pay to 4099 different officers and staff.

Records show Metro Dade paid $72,113,464.80 in overtime and extra pay to 3646 different officers and staff in 2007.

Compare that with Broward County’s Sheriff’s office, which has about 6,300 employees. That’s about 500 more employees than Miami-Dade Police Department.

According to its payroll records, Broward County’s Sheriff spent just under 30 million dollars in overtime, $29,676,223.13, less than half that of Miami-Dade.

Even so, the money spent on overtime at Broward County’s Sheriff’s Office in 2008 almost doubled from the year before when the sheriff spent $16,485,829 on overtime, according to the sheriff’s own public information department.

At Metro Dade, there are rules to keep officers’ overtime in check.

“As it pertains to overtime or off regular duty they’re not supposed to work more than an accumulation of 64 hours within a pay period.” Director Parker said.

The rules are put into place not just to regulate overtime pay but to also keep officers from becoming exhausted by working too many hours.

But the I-Team’s analysis of two years worth of pay records show that at least 70 different officers appeared to regularly work more time than the 64 hours a week allowed under the rules.

I-Team investigator Stock asked about that discovery.

“Have you found any abuses of the system where employees were working more than they were supposed to work, more hours than the rules allowed?” Stock asked MDPD Director Parker.

“We found situations where there were allowances by supervisors to allow them to work,” Parker answered.

“Have you changed that?” Stock asked.

“Yes,” Parker said.

“You fixed that?” Stock asked.

“We have fixed that,” Parker said. “The rules have been in place. But supervisors, who were supposed to give the occasional allowance, were giving long term allowances.”

“They (supervisors) were giving a standing allowance to exceed 64 (hours a week) and these people (officers) actually worked those hours and that should not to be.”

The extra pay listed on these payroll records include overtime, off duty regular pay, federal grant money and even pay-outs from the state’s early retirement or DROP program.

If you’re wondering if the $72 Million a year spent on overtime might, instead be better spent hiring more officers, MDPD’s Director said it’s not that simple.

Director Parker says because there’s no guarantee those extra officers who are hired won’t work overtime themselves, any new hires could make the overtime problem worse, not better.

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Neither Detective Garafalo nor any other officer earning all this overtime would talk to us about this issue.
(© MMX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)