BOSTON (CBS) – Governor Charlie Baker told the WBZ-TV’s I-Team his administration is seeking more information about a lucrative job perk provided to environmental police officers.
Payroll records reviewed by the I-Team show some officers are racking up hundreds of overtime hours, even doubling their salaries, thanks to working at state-operated pools in the middle of their shifts.
Critics called the unconventional “split shift” system a waste of taxpayer resources.
When questioned, the department’s leader, Colonel James McGinn, defended the approach, saying it allows his officers the ability to work flexible hours and respond to conservation law enforcement needs.
However, the I-Team discovered some officers worked the overtime shifts on almost a daily basis. One lieutenant worked 34 pool shifts in a two-month period, earning $13,260 in overtime.
Undercover WBZ video showed the officers mostly sat in their trucks in the pool parking lots during the details. On one rainy day, the I-Team even saw officers guarding three empty pools.
“We are going to look into this and if we determine there are problems and issues with the way the program is running, we will take action and change it,” Baker told WBZ.
Baker added that he wants to withhold judgment until “we actually get to the bottom of the story.”
Around the state, other law enforcement agencies work paid details on their days off or after their shifts. The split shift system allows officers to start their patrol duties, punch out to work a detail at a pool, and then return to finish up the shift.
In order to work a split shift, officers are required to put in eight hours and 30 minutes of regular duties.
However, there were examples of officers using vacation, personal, or even sick time to reach that required 8.5-hour total of regular duty after working the overtime details.
The WBZ I-Team has also learned the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), which oversees environmental police, is launching a top-to-bottom review.
“Secretary Beaton and the new Acting Chief Operating Officer Gary Lambert are conducting a secretariat-wide review of policies in a continued effort to ensure the effective use of taxpayer resources,” EEA spokesman Peter Lorenz said.