LRPD traffic officer reports $90k worth of overtime in 2012

LITTLE ROCK - Out of hundreds of pages filled with overtime hours logged by Little Rock Police Department officers, one officer's name stands out.

LRPD Officer Natasha Sims reported 2,224 hours of overtime last year, 700 more than the second most hours logged by an officer.

"Overtime is just unfortunately one of those necessary evils," said LRPD Chief Stuart Thomas.

Chief Thomas has been investigating Officer Sims for at least a few months and at the moment he says there is no evidence to say she's done anything wrong.

LPRPD cannot comment on internal investigations. However, public records show Officer Sims logged the most overtime hours in 2012 than any other officer in the department.

Records indicate Sims makes an annual salary of $52,646, or $27.42 an hour. Along with the $91,473 in time and a half overtime pay she reported last year, that brings her gross pay to $144,119.21.

That would make her the third highest paid public employee in Little Rock.

Court records show Sims wrote enough traffic tickets in 2012 to be subpoenaed 369 times in the year. She would sometimes appear in court three times a week. Per policy, if an officer called to appear in court on a day off, the officer is paid overtime for making her required court appearance.

"Traffic officers may necessarily be in court more often than others because simply because they have more citizen contacts and those situations where people can plead not guilty to a citation," said Chief Thomas.

But Chief Thomas points out the federal government often chips when it involves overtime for traffic officers and the Click It Or Ticket Program.

"They specifically reimburse us for the overtime because they know these are operations that we may not necessarily be able to do absent the access to overtime funding," said Thomas.

For now, he is confident Officer Sims and all his officers are doing the best they can while the department continues to train new officers and put them on the streets as soon as possible.

"I think progressively we're going to catch up where we do have enough staff in place," said Thomas, "that we can make the type of maneuvers that you want with staffing to minimize those overtime costs and get us back to normal."

Thomas could not comment on how long Sims has been under investigation and when it will be wrap up.