Boston Police Overtime Scandal: Drug Unit Clocked in 900 Court Hours Not Needed by DA's Office

Thirty two cops from the Boston Police Department’s drug unit clocked 400 hours of overtime over the last two years on 91 court appearances not requested by prosecutors, according to The Boston Globe, part of $1.8 million spent by the unit on overtime.

Here’s how they took care of business:

The Globe discovered the pattern as part of a review of 40 cases between 2008 and 2010 that appeared to draw an excessive number of officers to court on the taxpayers’ dime. In each case, the Globe compared the list of officers who had received overtime for the case with the list of those who had been summoned by the district attorney’s office, which is primarily responsible for calling officers to hearings.

Boston police disputed the findings, saying that in each of the cases a sergeant who supervises squads in the Police Department’s drug unit had ordered the officer to court, or the prosecutor had verbally asked the officer to appear.

“The sergeant has the option of bringing more people in as necessary,” Commissioner Edward F. Davis said. “As long as the sergeant signs off on it, the department is satisfied that it was appropriate.”

Davis said that department rules allow a supervisor to order officers to court.
But that is contrary to the procedure officially agreed upon by police and prosecutors more than a decade ago, according to Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office.

Police officers sent in by their supervisor do not appear in court in an official capacity, said Conley’s spokesman, Jake Wark. “If the supervisor sends additional officers to court dates when they’re not summonsed in, they’ll simply be spectators in the gallery,” Wark said. “At the end of the day, the prosecutor trying the case is in the best position to plan out his or her witness list.”

The District Attorney insists any summons of a police officer to court would come with a paper trail, for transparency.

The Globe reports the police department spent a total of $8.6 million on overtime last year, and that “the department has defended the cost by saying officers have no choice but to respond when they are called to court by prosecutors.” The Boston City Council unanimously approved a $2.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2013 last month. The police department received (pdf) an increase of $8.1 million, or a 3 percent increase, over last year.

 More Reason on police and public unions.

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  • Zeb||

    Police get paid to appear in court? Why can't they just be subpoenaed like any other witness?

  • sarcasmic||

    Not only do they get paid, they get overtime.

  • Pagan Priestess||

    Cause police are really SPECIAL.

  • Pro Libertate||

    As I noted in the drone thread, what we need are drone cops. No unions, no overtime, no pay. Just brute competence in executing drone process. With extreme prejudice.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    As a drone programmer, I demand a union with overtime pay, a massive pension plan, and sick time that I can cash in later at a higher pay rate.

  • sarcasmic||

    The Day the Earth Stood Still

  • Tulpa the White||

    The good news is that now you can drone the droners back. Until they make it illegal due to privacy concerns.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    If the supervisor sends additional officers to court dates when they’re not summonsed in, they’ll simply be spectators in the gallery

    So no one is even going to look to see if they showed up for their unnecessary overtime?

  • tarran||

    IT all depends on whether they appeared at pre-trial hearings or in the actual criminal trial itself.

    In a clerk magistrate's hearing, for example, everything is really fluid. A detective from the PD will generally present the investigation to the magistrate. The detective may request other people be present or bring evidence. The witness list list and the evidence submitted are generated in a surprisingly fluid and informal process.

    In one case I was a witness in, at the last minute the detective asked the investigating officer to be present to answer questions. I witnessed him making decisions literally in the hallway outside the courtroom two minutes before the hearing was called to order.

    For such hearings, it wouldn't be surprising that at the last minute, without a written record, a police officer was requested to give evidence.

    For a formal trial - the opposite would hold... The prosecutor provides the defense with his witness list. There's no way that a cop would not be requested formally to present himself for a trial.

  • tarran||

    I should add that if it's the Boston PD, I would bet that it's corruption and paycheck padding and not legitimate overtime.

  • Chris Mallory||

    No reason at all why any government employee should earn overtime.

  • Invisible Finger||

    But if you don't pay them overtime, they'll turn corrupt.

  • Lord Humungus||

    er...

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    This is today's "Dog Bites Man" story, right?

  • R C Dean||

    Its now "Dog Licks Balls". Tow the lion, Evil Twin.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    “As long as the sergeant signs off on it, the department is satisfied that it was appropriate.”

    I am beginning to piece together one of the possible causes of problems with the Boston Police Department.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Insufficient training (paid at overtime rates)?

  • ||

    How is Dunphy not in here telling us about how court OT gives us good cops and good police work?

  • sarcasmic||

    I seem to recall him claiming to have worked for the Boston PD at some point.

    I'm sure he can attest to their pure morality and lack of corruption, or if they are indeed corrupt he can attest to exposing the corruption at every available opportunity.

    Right, Dunphy?

    I won't hold my breath.

  • Lord Humungus||

    to have worked for the Boston PD at some point

    was that before or after the Bungee jumping powerlifting group sex marathon?

  • Auric Demonocles||

    During. That was a training exercise (paid at double pay because of the "hazard").

  • GILMORE||

    “The sergeant has the option of bringing more people in as necessary,” Commissioner Edward F. Davis said. “As long as the sergeant signs off on it, the department is satisfied that it was appropriate.”

    I am SHOCKED!! SHOCKED I Tell you!...

    ...that anyone in the media *doesn't already know* how fucking old-news the "cops use court appearances to milk overtime"-schtick is.

    I mean, how can we call it a 'scandal', when in fact its been standard operating procedure across the entire country for the last few decades?

    I mean, you can find indignant editorials about this stuff pretty much in every city, every 3-4 years.

    Here's Miami, 1997 =

    http://www.miamiherald.com/199.....costs.html

    and hell, court appearances are just one of the myriad ways police boost their pay. Ever wonder why a routine traffic stop will attract 4 different police cars milling around for an hour or two? everyone gets to be a witness now! Plus, who's going to backup the backup's backup? Try committing ANY kind of infraction at an End-of-Shift period... and you will dicover that everything suddenly takes 5X as long to get things done and requires multiple officers to share the burdens. Hopefully they'll find a reason to haul you in, and they can rack up more and more double-pay hours while you're handcuffed in a waiting room wondering why everything is taking so long...

  • Rasilio||

    "I mean, you can find indignant editorials about this stuff pretty much in every city, every 3-4 years.

    "

    And there you answer your first question. The Journalists DO know about it, but hey we're all lazy and when you need a "shocking expose" to justify your job and maybe even win a nice little regional reporting award for your "hard hitting journalism" this is the sort of pre written piece you pull out of your bag o tricks. It probably won't even bother the cops too much as long as you don't do it in a year the union contract is up for renegotiation.

  • ||

    Tip of the proverbial iceberg. All municipal police/fire do this. Local "reporters" are just not interested in municipal corruption. It makes too many enemies and is so common it's not news.

  • johnl||

    City page reporters are boosters of municipal corruption. They are fans of redevelopment, white elephants, licensing restrictions, restrictive zoning, ...

  • ||

    Tip of the proverbial iceberg. All municipal police/fire do this. Local "reporters" are just not interested in municipal corruption. It makes too many enemies and is so common it's not news.

  • R C Dean||

    Any proceeding where the prosecutor has to inform the defense or the court in advance of their witnesses should not be one where a cop who just shows up gets paid anything, much less overtime.

    That certainly includes trials, and probably some other hearings as well (couldn't say, not a criminal defense attorney).

    There may be preliminary hearings where this doesn't apply, but it sure seems to me that it should be the DA who is deciding who the witnesses will be, not some sergeant.

  • R C Dean||

    At least now I know why the cop in the "Complete Your Criminal Justice Degree" auto-ad has that shit-eating grin on her face.

  • fried wylie||

    At the end of the day, the prosecutor trying the case is in the best position to plan out his or her witness list.”

    Shouldn't a good prosecutor be in that position at the beginning of the day?

  • ||

    Massholeistan. The LEOs in this place pad their o'time with "pot-hole" duty. You can't do any work on a state highway without a LEO to "direct traffic". Block two lanes of 495 for miles with lights and cones and whatnot and there's still a couple state troopers sitting off to the side in their cruisers with the blue lights flashing (watching porn on their computers, I quess). Couple years ago there was a bill to put and end to this stupidity and the staties marched on the capitol with cries of "the childrenz!!". The pussy legislature caved in a heartbeat.
    The o'time is (suprise) used to pad their retirement numbers.

  • fried wylie||

    Block two lanes of 495 for miles with lights and cones

    I should be in the lights and traffic-cones business.

    quess

    What fucking dysfunction is that, because I swap my g's and q's all the time.

  • Brendan||

    I should be in the lights and traffic-cones business.

    You and me both. Probably made more than a few millionaires in Las Vegas alone. I had no idea there were that many cones in circulation in one metro area. There are construction zones EVERYWHERE here.

    Add to that the lighted signs, the traffic control/warning diamond signs, the little flexible brackets/stands to to cope with the wind, etc. and the relative(s) of some politician/appointee are making a nice living. Doubly so if they simply rent all of this to the agency(s).

  • Auric Demonocles||

    On my drive to the RMV (what fun for my birthday!) I went through a construction zone with two cops directing us to follow the cones that were already on the ground.

  • GILMORE||

    That shit is NOTHING.

    The MTA hires people to stand outside of subway stations under construction to tell people, "they're under construction". I point out, "isn't that sign there just as effective? MOST people can read?" There are 1000 different kinds of do-nothing doing-something jobs in municipal unions. I suspect the main point of them is to have something to "cut" when negotiation-time rolls around. Must have plenty fat in inventory if you're going to have to cut something.

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