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Cops who faced discipline get overtime payday

By BOB GARDINIER, Staff writer
First published: Sunday, February 24, 2002

Some of the same cops who have been disciplined for sleeping or playing computer games while at work have been racking up large amounts of overtime, helping to nearly deplete the beleaguered department's overtime budget.

Two of the top five overtime earners since last August were disciplined for sleeping on the job and for computer abuses, though they were not necessarily earning overtime while allegedly breaking the rules.

Last year, the officer who topped the overtime list was disciplined for sleeping on the job and insubordination. Two others in the top five were cited for spending time on personal matters on departmental computers while on duty.

According to budget records in the city clerk's office, the department as of Wednesday had spent $110,560 of its $140,000 overtime budget -- close to 80 percent -- just seven months into the fiscal year that began Aug. 1.


The department's staffing may not be as low as it appears when population declines are factored in. The department has more officers per capita than almost any force in the state. The city's population is 7,761, according to the latest census figures.

Currently, there is a police officer for every 517 citizens, well above the minimum of one officer for every 770 residents mandated by the city charter.

"We obviously don't want to pay them overtime for sleeping or playing around on computers,'' said Common Council President Michael Bridgeford. "If proof arises of abuses, we will deal with it, but so far the brass have not alerted us to any patterns of behavior by an individual or individuals we should be concerned with.''

Ron Hoyt, president of Council 82, which oversees the union local representing all Rensselaer police except the chief, said there are no signs of overtime abuse.

"If they want to get a handle on it, they should put some of the people they've disciplined over there back on the streets,'' Hoyt said.

submitted by: Werner Hetzner

source:  Albany Times Union    




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