Anti-crime and homelessness initiatives pushed by disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2019 and 2020 compounded overtime spending at the MTA’s in-house police force, the MTA Inspector General’s Office said Wednesday.
Cuomo’s push to involve MTA cops in combating homelessness, crime and fare evasion resulted in $19.1 million in unbudgeted, unplanned OT spending over the two-year period, IG Carolyn Pokorny said in a new report.
Overall OT spending at the MTA Police Department grew by 21 percent from 2018 to 2020, to $31.6 million — outpacing an 11 percent growth in officer headcount.
MTA cops primarily patrol the authority’s suburban commuter rails, as well as major transit hubs like Grand Central Terminal. City subways and buses are the chief jurisdiction of the NYPD Transit Bureau.
In 2019, Cuomo promised to crack down on fare evasion, crime and homelessness on the subways, and deployed MTA police to get the job done.
The “special projects,” as the IG report called them, included deploying dozens of MTA cops to conduct daily homeless outreach, and another 110 officers to tackle fare evasion at subway stations and on bus routes.
MTA officials began the process of hiring 500 new cops in mid-2020, but the hiring spree has barely made a dent in OT because of officer retirements, the IG said.
Any future OT spending on special initiatives should be budgeted in advance, she said.
“When future special projects arise, the MTA Police Department can help themselves and MTA stakeholders by accurately tracking and reporting project costs,” Pokorny said in a statement.
The MTA’s OT spending has been under scrutiny since The Post exposed allegations of overtime abuse following a series of exposés on LIRR workers pulling in huge paychecks. Multiple workers and supervisors have since been indicted.
A rep for the MTA noted that the authority’s OT tab dropped from $1.38 billion in 2018 and $1.13 billion in 2020.
“Overtime is a strategic and useful tool that is budgeted and provides visible officers to protect riders, help them feel safe and react to crises as they occur. In the COVID era, officers worked with the NYPD to assist in closing stations overnight to enable sanitizing, cleaning and to secure employees and facilities,” MTA chief safety officer Patrick Warren said in a statement. “We agree overtime needs to be managed appropriately — as it has been at the MTA PD — and is a vital tool used by every transportation agency in the country.”