Audit shows police deputy chief OK'd egregious overtime | News

Audit shows police deputy chief OK'd egregious overtime

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An audit released this morning by the City of Durham revealed that a senior Durham Police Department official signed off on nearly $62,000 in overtime pay for one officer over just 11 months.

The audit found that Deputy Chief B.J. Council, a 31-year veteran of the Durham Police Department, approved the overtime payment of Alesha Robinson-Taylor, an officer who worked in an administrative position.

City Manager Tom Bonfield said in a press conference Wednesday that Council had submitted her retirement papers. Her retirement will begin Dec. 31, and beginning next week, she will be on personal leave for the remainder of the year, Bonfield said. Bonfield cited personnel privacy laws for not revealing the status of Robinson-Taylor. It is possible that criminal charges could be filed on Robinson-Taylor, Bonfield said, but that is the purview of Durham's district attorney.

"I want to take just a minute to publicly apologize to the citizens of Durham for this situation," Bonfield said. "I am personally embarrassed, but also I really am embarrassed for the Durham Police Department. ... When an incident happens like this, it unfortunately puts a cloud over all of the great work that they do."

Although Robinson-Taylor's job status was not available Wednesday, the city confirmed she had worked for the department for 12 years. The audit states that in her work as a Secondary Employment Coordinator, monitoring the off-duty work of police officers, Robinson-Taylor claimed 1,837 hours of overtime from September 2008 to August 2009. She also claimed 904 hours of compensatory time, which is given as time off if an employee works beyond their regular monthly hours.

Shortly after Robinson-Taylor started claiming extra overtime in September 2008, her immediate supervisor, Capt. Charlene Balch, brought the issue to her supervisor, Deputy Chief Council. According to the audit, Council said she knew about the overtime, and said it was OK because Robinson-Taylor was not permitted to earn extra money through off-duty jobs.

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez, who also spoke at the press conference, said he became aware of the issue of extra overtime in April and acted immediately by asking for a report from the department's financial staff. He did not initiate an audit. From April 2009 to Sept. 11, 2009, Robinson-Taylor continued to receive overtime pay exceeding $24,000.

Lopez said he did not initiate an audit immediately because he thought it would be "automatic" after raising the issue with his finance department.

Bonfield said in the press conference that he initiated the audit in early September after receiving an anonymous tip via e-mail.

Read the city's news release and download the 20-page audit report here.

Stay tuned to Triangulator and the Indy for more details.

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