Records detail overtime spending in Holyoke Police Department

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/11/2021 8:55:23 PM

HOLYOKE — Fifteen officers in the Holyoke Police Department were paid more than 500 hours of overtime in fiscal year 2020, including four of the department’s five highest-paid officers, who earned hourly overtime rates ranging from $94 to $109 an hour.

Three of those officers claimed more than 800 overtime hours that year, and another claimed more than 1,200 hours.

Police officers — all but one of whom are supervisors — made up 17 out of the top 20 highest-paid city employees in Holyoke last year, including those employed by the city’s schools. Of those 17 officers, eight earned more than $200,000 in gross pay.

The figures, obtained by the Gazette through a public records request, document the hours of overtime each Holyoke police officer has worked per fiscal year. The Gazette has analyzed one year of data — FY20, the last full fiscal year of data obtained. The records offer an accounting of how the Police Department is using city and grant-funded overtime and who is receiving it.

Police overtime pay has been a subject of debate before the Holyoke City Council, where earlier this year councilors clashed with former police chief Manuel Febo over the issue and requested information about overtime hours worked in the department. In June, the council cut the Police Department’s overtime budget in an effort to rein in costs in the department. City-paid overtime costs increased from $587,257 in 2011 to $1.3 million in 2020. Grant-funded overtime pay rose from $94,267 to $335,629 in that same time period.

The City Council’s recent debate came after a patrol officer, Rafael Roca, early this year posted a viral video in which he said he was blowing the whistle on a number of “corrupt” practices within the Police Department, including what he alleged was overtime abuse. Department officials have denied those accusations.

Police Capt. Matthew Moriarty, who handles communications for the department and also serves as president of the police supervisors union, said that high levels of overtime can often be attributed to budget cuts over the years, which have created a staffing shortage as the department works to keep its minimum levels of officers on duty. The issue is exacerbated by large numbers of recent retirements, officers taking paid time off, injuries on duty and other unexpected events, he said.

The presence of the drug trade in Holyoke, together with the violence associated with it, leads to high levels of overtime on narcotics shifts as well as task force work, Moriarty added.

“Those are longer-type investigations,” Moriarty said. “If you’re dealing with a real investigation, you’re talking months.”

In fiscal year 2020, Sgt. John Hart, now a lieutenant, claimed more overtime hours than any other officer in the department. Hart amassed 1,233.5 hours at an overtime rate that reached $80.71 during the year. Hart, who writes grants for the department, received most of his overtime hours from grant-funded work or work done as the department’s only “grant officer,” department spreadsheets and city payroll records show.

Next on the list was Lt. Jim Albert, who claimed 915.5 hours of overtime, followed by Lt. John Monaghan, who claimed 871 hours. David Pratt, now the police chief, who served that fiscal year as a captain, filed for 855 overtime hours. Lt. Laurence Cournoyer put in for 730.5 overtime hours and Moriarty earned 612 hours of overtime that fiscal year.

The internal spreadsheets also detail the overtime rates that police supervisors are able to earn. At the top of that list is Capt. Denise Duguay, whose hourly overtime rate reached $111.77 in FY20. Pratt made $109.35 per overtime hour, Moriarty $107.93, Cournoyer $97.92, Albert $94.08 and Monaghan $91.38.

Patrol officers

Patrol officers who filed more overtime hours than their colleagues included Jared Hamel, who claimed 885.5 overtime hours; Liam Glasheen with 879.5 hours; Manuel Rivera — the president of the patrol officers’ union — with 855 hours; Anthony Brach with 803.5 hours; and William Delgado with 699.5 hours.

A Gazette analysis shows that the largest portions of the department’s overtime hours are worked on patrol officer shifts, the narcotics unit and federal task forces — collaborations among federal law enforcement agencies, state and local police to, for example, make drug, gun and gang busts.

Of the 29,258.5 hours of overtime officers worked last fiscal year, 3,095 hours were worked on patrol officer shifts. Narcotics shifts were the next highest at 3,041 overtime hours, followed by 2,419 hours on task forces, 2,090.5 hours on supervisor shifts, 1,960.5 hours on records shifts, 1,862.5 hours on dispatch shifts, 1,861 hours on “walking beat” work and 1,491.5 hours on training. Officers worked 1,289.5 overtime hours on criminal investigations and 1,316 hours on murders, shootings and stabbings.

Around 38% of those hours were filed in four-hour increments, which often has to do with a provision the city has agreed to in contracts with the police supervisors and patrol officers unions.

In those contracts, language stipulates that an employee who is called to work outside their regular duty and shows up ready for work “shall be paid for not less than four (4) hours” at their overtime rate. The same is true if an officer appears in court as a witness, though the provision does not apply to overtime work done prior to, or immediately following, an officer’s regularly scheduled duty.

The union contracts also point to why Holyoke officers’ overtime rates can climb. Under both the supervisors and patrol officers contracts, overtime rates are calculated by adding together four different pay categories — hourly rate, training rate, longevity incentive and educational incentive — and multiplying by 1.5.

Grant funding

Not all overtime is paid by the city, however. An officer assigned to a federal task force can use funding from that task force to work overtime to tail somebody suspected of drug trafficking, for example. There are also many overtime hours paid for through grants, such as the 920 hours of state-funded “gang suppression” shifts officers worked over weekends in FY20 in an attempt to reduce violence, Moriarty said.

“It’s a way for us to put additional officers on the road on the weekend, at the times when we seem to have more crimes of violence — 6 p.m to midnight,” Moriarty said.

In instances like those, Moriarty said patrol officers often don’t sign up for that overtime but supervisors do, leading to more supervisors taking those shifts. Supervisors also work more overtime hours because city officials have recently cut funding for a captain and lieutenant position, he said.

“Those duties and responsibilities have to be spread out along with everyone’s normal work,” he said. “That causes overtime down the road.”

In some communities, such as Northampton, captains are salaried administrators who are not included in the supervisors union contract and, therefore, don’t collect overtime. But in Holyoke, captains are part of the union and, as a result, can earn overtime. The city’s mayor negotiates contracts with the police unions.

“For captains to be moved over to a salary, that’s a negotiable item,” Moriarty said. “For something like that to happen, it’s a negotiation. What’s the city expecting? Is the captain then 24-7?”

Mayoral politics

The unions are active in mayoral politics in Holyoke. The supervisors union, for example, endorsed former mayor Alex Morse in 2017 ahead of his reelection that November. Between 2015 and 2019, police supervisors and their union gave at least $4,900 in campaign contributions to Morse, according to state campaign finance data.

The supervisors union signed a new three-year contract with the city in 2019. Of the two candidates competing to become mayor on Nov. 2, At-large City Councilor Michael Sullivan has received $1,000 from police Sgt. Andrew DiNapoli, and Blandford Town Manager Joshua Garcia has accepted $200 from Lt. Charles Monfett.

“The next mayor should probably think about how and whether the union contracts are working for the city,” At-large City Councilor Rebecca Lisi said in reaction to some of the Gazette’s findings related to the police department’s overtime.

Lisi herself was a candidate for mayor but was eliminated in last month’s preliminary election.

Earlier this year, she filed an order in the City Council — co-sponsored by fellow councilors Gladys Lebron-Martinez, Libby Hernandez and Juan Anderson-Burgos — calling for an independent assessment of the Holyoke Police Department. The order remains in committee.

When apprised of the Police Department’s overtime spending last fiscal year, Lisi said it is further reason to assess the department’s structures, what the community wants from its police department and how resources could be better allocated to focus on those issues. Otherwise, she said, “we’re going to be trapped in a less-than-optimal arrangement for taxpayer dollars and department effectiveness.

“Without real data, we’re only making inferences,” Lisi said. “And inferences can be colored by gaps in information. To get a complete picture, we need that full assessment done.”

Off-duty details

Overtime pay is not the only way that police officers can earn extra money above their base salary. Some officers also work off-duty details — directing traffic at construction sites, for example.

Those off-duty hours do not show up in the Police Department’s overtime logs, because construction companies or public agencies pay for those hours at a fixed rate — $47 an hour in 2020, according to Moriarty — instead of at an individual officer’s overtime rate. However, using city payroll records from the treasurer’s office, a Gazette analysis determined how many off-duty hours officers worked in calendar year 2020.

Some of those who worked large amounts of overtime hours in calendar year 2020 — figures calculated using the department’s overtime ledgers for FY19 and FY20 — also worked hundreds of hours on off-duty details that calendar year.

Cournoyer, for example, worked 896 off-duty hours that year, according to city payroll records, in addition to the 653.5 overtime hours he worked, or 1,549.5 hours in total.

Manuel Rivera, the president of the patrolmen’s union, worked 695 overtime hours together with 443 hours of off-duty work, bringing his total hours outside his regular shift to 1,138 hours. Glasheen worked the seventh-most overtime hours that calendar year at 775, together with 288 off-duty hours.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.



Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy