Long Beach Police and Fire Dispatcher Overtime Audit Garners Prestigious Award for City Auditor

Last May’s audit report revealing understaffed and overworked police and fire dispatchers has garnered the Long Beach City Auditor’s Office a prestigious national award, the office announced Tuesday.

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Judges with the Association of Local Government Auditors chose the auditor’s office as a recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Knighton Award—seen as one of the most highly regarded honors—for identifying “the potential for significant impacts including budgetary, safety, and operational efficiencies,” a release stated.

This is the fourth time Auditor Laura Doud has received the ALGA Knighton Audit Award,which recognizes the best performance audit reports issued by its 300 local government audit organization members, according to the release.

“Our office is committed to improve government efficiency and effectiveness, and my staff and I appreciate ALGA’s recognition of our work on behalf of the citizens of Long Beach,” said Doud in a statement. 

The Police & Fire Public Safety Dispatcher Overtime Audit found that despite answering emergency calls above industry standards, the emergency call centers were understaffed and overtime was distributed disproportionately among the dispatcher workforce.

Though the $1.3 million in overtime hours in 2014 saved the police and fire departments money by not having to hire full-time employees with benefits, the practice was found to potentially lead to employee burnout and low morale, the audit stated.

The audit called for a review of staffing levels and schedules, the disproportionate distribution of overtime among dispatchers and recruitment efforts, which city officials have taken into consideration.

“I am pleased that the City has undertaken our recommendations which have the potential to improve the adequacy and efficiency of the Dispatch Centers’ staffing levels and, thereby, reduce the need for overtime,” stated Doud. “One dispatcher personally thanked us for identifying the overtime issues. Having 9-1-1 dispatchers who are not overworked increases public safety by enhancing dispatcher performance, safety and morale.”

Doud will be presented with the award at the ALGA’s annual National Conference in Austin, Texas on May 23.

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