Parker said federal highway rules prevent semi-truck operators from driving more than 10 hours in a maximum 15-hour workday. MARTA rules allow officers and bus drivers to drive or patrol 16 hours a day if they have eight hours off between shifts. Bus drivers get hourly breaks.
MARTA police have reinstituted a rule limiting overtime to 32 hours a week. Deputy Chief Joseph Dorsey said the department is also doing a better job of spreading out overtime among officers. Overtime issues involving bus drivers, who unlike police are part of a union, will be negotiated with union leaders, Parker said.
Overtime will be an issue in a civil lawsuit against the agency involving the shooting death of an Atlanta man by a MARTA officer in October 2012, said lawyer Greg Feagle, who represents the man’s family. While Officer Robert Waldo was not found criminally liable in the killing of 19-year-old Joetavius Stafford, records showed Waldo was at the end of a double shift when the shooting occurred and had worked 37 hours of overtime that week.
Witnesses had seen Stafford firing a gun shortly before he fled police, but no gun was found by Stafford’s body. Waldo said he fired when he saw Stafford make an aggressive move. Other witnesses said Stafford was surrendering.
A recent management audit found MARTA’s $26 million in overtime costs for all workers was about 5 percent higher than average for private companies and about 7 percent higher for public agencies in 2011.
The audit blamed excessive absenteeism for the overtime. But others contend that, too often, the driving force is saving money by hiring fewer workers. The agency’s overall labor cost was about 3.5 percent lower than average, the audit found.