BOSTON (CBS) — The leader of the Massachusetts Environmental Police will no longer allow his officers to split their shifts so they can work overtime details at state-operated pools, according to a letter obtained by the WBZ-TV I-Team.
The development comes in the wake of an I-Team investigation, which found officers racking up hundreds of overtime hours, even doubling their salaries, thanks to the lucrative perk.
Payroll records revealed one lieutenant worked 34 pools shifts in a two-month period, earning $13,260 in overtime salary.
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 Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) pools.
Critics called the unconventional “split shift” system a waste of taxpayer resources.
In the letter sent out Monday afternoon, Colonel James McGinn said he will continue to review split-shift requests for “mission specific objectives or if there is a unique safety benefit.”
“However, please be advised that I will no longer approve split shifts to enable an officer to work a detail shift for the DCR or any private entities,” McGinn wrote.
Around the state, other law enforcement agencies work paid details on their days off or after their shifts. The split shift system allowed environmental police 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.
When the I-Team questioned McGinn in November, he defended the system and said he would have to see documentation that illustrated a problem.
Following the investigation, Governor Charlie Baker told the I-Team his administration was reviewing the policy and would make changes if necessary.
Monday, Baker’s office responded to the I-Team update.
“The governor is pleased that the Environmental Police continue their efforts to clarify existing policies to better focus on their mission to serve and protect the Commonwealth,” Lizzy Guyton, Communications Director for Gov. Baker, said in an email.
Ryan Kath can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.