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'Wildly inappropriate' BPD Chief of Staff on OIG overtime finding

Employee paid over $100k Police salary despite losing policing rights decades ago
Posted at 10:15 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 10:00:47-04

After a nationwide call to defund police —our local departments budgets are under the microscope.

On Wednesday, the Baltimore City Office of the Inspector General released another report on overtime spending by BPD that raised eyebrows about how your tax dollars are being spent.

The report focuses on an officer who lost his right to carry a gun or a make an arrest after he shot someone while on duty nearly 30 years ago.

Despite those rights getting stripped in 1994, he was getting paid as an officer up until last week—and last year made around $125,000 with more than $30,000 in overtime.

RELATED: Overtime investigation leads BPD to part ways with officer who lost police powers decades ago

The police budget for fiscal year 2022 is expected to be around $555 million.

That’s up by more than $25 million from last year.

The mayor and police commissioner have been saying getting negligent overtime spending under control is one of their top priorities.

Coincidentally Baltimore City Council was holding a hearing on police overtime on the same day the OIG report was released.

“It’s incumbent that real controls be instituted and the department be responsible about the money that they are charging to the Baltimore taxpayer,” said Councilman Mark Conway.

In a virtual meeting council members were asking Baltimore Police Department Leaders about overtime issues found in reports from the Officer of the Inspector General.

“A gentlemen who was on payroll for an extended period of time after having shot a teenager,” said Councilman Zeke Cohen. “It was a pretty high profile case. I’m just curious it would seem that a fairly basic forensic audit of payroll and overtime would identify that.”

Councilman Cohen was referencing the report that was released earlier in the day.

It found an employee was being paid overtime and given all union benefits as an officer despite being stripped of the right to arrest and carry a firearm while working for BPD.

Despite that— he made more than $158,000 in overtime since 2016 and got paid around $600 thousand over the last five years.

Eric Melancon, The Commissioners Chief of Staff, said they were aware of the situation before the OIG report, but were slowed by legal red tape to address it.

“The fact of the matter is his permanent status as a suspended member prohibited him from doing anything beyond what an administrative functionary can do,” Melancon said. “So the comparative is a fair one if a civilian being able to cover this responsibility. We’re covering this responsibility with a members salary, commensurate with a police officer and than authorizing overtime for it, which is wildly inappropriate.”

The OIG found potential waste in this case because the employee's duties could have been performed by a civilian last year for half of the base salary—not to mention the extra $32,000 they made in overtime.

Baltimore City Police commissioner Michael Harrison agreed with the findings of the report and notified the employee they were going to be terminated from that role on August 1st.

The OIG report said that employee retired.

The Inspector General also lead an investigation of officers “double dipping” by collecting overtime and vacation pay at the same time.

MORE: Inspector General finds Baltimore Police employees work on vacation to earn overtime pay

Shallah Graham, The Chief Financial Officer for the Commissioner said they sent out a department wide email and don’t anticipate future issues as they switch to a new time card system.

“That’s one of the great benefits of Workday, is we now have this transparency to what’s going on with our employees,” Graham said. “We can get reports that tells us if policies are being complied to and not being complied with.”

The police department plans on putting together a task force focused on overtime and spending as a whole.

Graham said that is made up of members of the department and outside investigators.

City council members asked for another meeting with that task force.

To read the full report from the OIG click here.