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March 13, 2009

DiNapoli: Officers May Have Been Double Dipping

Audits Find Brant, Gowanda, & Springville Need to Keep
a Closer Eye on Police Deployment

The whereabouts of two on-duty police officers were not properly tracked, raising questions regarding whether they were at work when they should have been, according to audits released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The audits also concluded that one of the officers could have been paid by two municipalities for the same time worked. DiNapoli’s auditors reviewed police payrolls for the Town of Brant, and the villages of Gowanda and Springville. Federal and local law enforcement officials have been made aware of the audits’ findings.

“Even in good times, local governments have to keep track of every tax dollar,” DiNapoli said. “But when times are bad – and we know how bad they are today – it becomes even more imperative that local officials keep an eye on the public’s money. And when those tax dollars are supposed to provide public safety, the standard must be set even higher. If a cop is being paid to be on-duty in one town, and he’s getting paid by another community for the same hours, something’s gotta give. In this case, it was police protection.”

Brant, Gowanda and Springville all paid the same officer (referred to in the audit as officer 1), who alternately worked part-time for each of them. Brant also paid the salary of another officer (referred to as officer 2). The audits covered the period May 2006 to December 2007.

Auditors found officer 1:

  • until September 2007, did not file a time sheet with the Brant supervisor's office indicating the hours he worked, or prepared a daily activity sheet prior to August 2007;
  • worked for a private contractor in May and June 2007, during some of the same hours he was compensated by the town police department;
  • may have, on other occasions, been paid by two municipalities for work during the same hours; and
  • may have misled the town board that the town was going to receive revenue from search and seizure activities conducted by the town’s K9 team (officer 1 and his dog). To date, the use of the K9 team had not resulted in any revenue to the town.

In addition, Brant town officials were in violation of Civil Service regulations and notification requirements by the Erie County’s civil service department by allowing officer 1 to act in a police supervisory role and work in excess of 19 hours per week. Auditors had difficulty determining if officer 2 actually worked the hours indicated on his time sheet due to the lack of supporting documentation.

DiNapoli recommended that the town and villages:

  • adopt written policies governing police operations, which would include written job descriptions, written time sheets, and mechanisms to track officer deployment;
  • schedule officers working part-time in multiple agencies to be sure their time on duty in one location does not conflict with time on duty elsewhere;
  • comply with the directives of the county civil service department and Civil Service Law;
  • ensure that the use of the K9 team is in the best interest of local taxpayers;
  • determine if the town is eligible to receive revenue from the search and seizure activities of the K9 team, and attempt to recover any seized funds, if applicable; and
  • require certification of department payrolls as correct prior to payment.

Except where noted, local officials agreed with the findings and would take corrective action.

Click on above links for copies of the audits.



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