Hartford Police Find Instances Of Double Dipping Among Officers
By JENNA CARLESSO and STEVEN GOODE
The Hartford Courant
7:07 PM EDT, August 9, 2011
A random review
of the Hartford
in 2010 found
were working "an
of hours" in
violation of the
according to a
obtained by the
Hartford Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts said he called for random checks of time cards after Officer Hector Robles was fired from the department in November. An internal investigation concluded that Robles, a 15-year veteran, had fabricated time cards to show that he was on duty while he was working private jobs.
Robles, who is also a state representative, was arrested in March and charged with two counts of first-degree larceny, stemming from accusations that he defrauded the police department of more than $10,000. His case is pending in Superior Court in Hartford.
Roberts said that the review was necessary because of Robles' claims that he was just one of many officers whose time cards did not match up with hours worked.
"We needed to make sure we were out in front on that," Roberts said. "We wanted to ensure that people are doing what they are supposed to do."
The police department performed a random check that included 119 officers and 263 private-duty assignments during the week of Aug. 22 to 28, 2010. It found:
* An undisclosed number of officers worked "an excessive number of hours" in violation of the police department's policies and procedures.
* Two incidents of an officer's submitting overtime cards that overlapped with private-duty assignments.
* One incident of an officer's overlapping a private-duty assignment with his regular shift.
* That officers who work private-duty assignments have "no oversight," as their private-duty slips are processed without being compared with time cards, overtime cards or comp-time cards.
"This inspection found that the vast majority of police officers who work private-duty assignments are compliant, hard working individuals attempting to earn extra income," Lt. Luis A. Rodriguez, commander of the inspections bureau, wrote in a memo to Roberts on May 10. "However, deficiencies in the processing of the private-duty slips and antiquated paper time cards allow individuals the opportunity to abuse the system."
Rodriguez specifically mentioned three officers and a detective who filled out time cards in which their private-duty jobs overlapped with their regular hours or exceeded the maximum 16 consecutive hours they are allowed to work. Rodriguez found each of them to be in violation of the department's code of conduct for failure to comply with procedures, directives or regulations.
Those found in violation include Officer Israel Mantilla, Officer William Smith, Officer David Upton and Det. Gregory Gorr.
"Sometimes they make honest mistakes, but if we see a pattern we have to take action and hold people accountable," Roberts said. "It's only a couple guys, not systemic."
But R. Bartley Halloran, an attorney for Robles, has argued otherwise.
Halloran told the Courant in April that the police department's system for keeping track of time cards was so flawed that it's unfair to prosecute one person for double-dipping.
"You can't have a time system that has conflicts all over the place and arrest one person," he said. "It just isn't fair."
Halloran had requested the time cards and private-duty slips for 66 Hartford police officers. He said Tuesday that he has received those documents, and declined further comment because he is currently reviewing them.
"We're still doing our own analysis," he said.
Early last month, police installed a new scheduling and payroll system that uses computer software instead of paper cards.
"During the first week there were no catastrophic issues that would cause us to discontinue operations," Roberts wrote in a memo to the city's chief operating officer, David Panagore, on July 15.
However, Roberts noted in the memo that the new system posed some issues, including "the lack of an administrator function in the software" and "an unwillingness of personnel in the police department to eagerly embrace the software."
Roberts said the new system eliminates the possibility that officers will overlap private-duty and regular hours on their time cards because it will not accept entries that do so. Officers who don't use the new system will not get paid.
"We are working it out and the majority of the officers are in compliance," Roberts said Tuesday.
Copyright © 2011, The Hartford Courant