02/08/2007

6 Baltimore officers suspended; investigation probes 'irregularities' in overtime pay

By Gus G. Sentementes
The Baltimore Sun

Six Baltimore police officers were suspended yesterday as part of an internal affairs investigation into possible "irregularities" with their overtime pay, a department spokesman said.

The officers - two sergeants and four detectives - worked in criminal investigations in the department's Eastern District when they filed for overtime that is now being reviewed by internal affairs investigators, police said. One of the sergeants was recently transferred to the Northeastern District, police said.

Matt Jablow, a Police Department spokesman, declined to release the names of the officers or say how much overtime was in question.

He said that questions about their overtime - which consisted of money paid out for court and investigative time - arose as part of an internal audit last summer.

Their law enforcement powers have been suspended, but the officers will continue to work in administrative positions, Jablow said.

According to a document obtained by The Sun, the suspended officers are Sgt. Darryl Massey, Sgt. Raynard H. Jones, and detectives Sandra D. Forsythe, Dave P. Peckoo, Kerry D. Snead and Kevin R. Turner.

The suspensions come amid a push by the department this year to curtail overtime spending.

As of Dec. 31, the Police Department had spent $21 million on overtime - more than twice the $8.7 million budgeted for fiscal year 2007, which ends June 30. The department regularly exceeds its allotted overtime, but some say it is because city leaders budget an unrealistically low figure each year.

Mayor Sheila Dixon recently pledged to reduce Police Department spending on overtime. In recent weeks, each of the city's nine police districts have been told to rein in overtime spending.

Department leaders have set a target of $30,000 in total officer overtime per two-week pay-period.

"I believe an allegation was made against these officers, and everybody should consider them innocent until proven guilty," said Paul M. Blair Jr., president of the city police union. "People shouldn't jump to conclusions just because allegations are made. It comes with the job. It comes with the job every day."

Blair said he was concerned about the impact that the reduction in overtime might have on public safety, since the department remains short about 165 officers.

Sun reporter Julie Bykowicz contributed to this article.

Copyright 2007 The Baltimore Sun Company
All Rights Reserved

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