OT puts two dozen Boston officers in '$200,000 club'

Lucrative police overtime and detail shifts have scores of city cops doubling and even tripling their base salaries.

By Dave Wedge and Joe Dwinell 
Boston Herald

BOSTON, Mass. — As the city struggles to rein in spending and hold down property taxes, some 25 Hub cops raked in more than $200,000 in 2006 while another 25 nearly cracked that figure, hauling in more than $190,000, a Herald review of city payroll records has found.

In all, 126 Boston police officers made more than the $166,000 salary paid to Mayor Thomas M. Menino and 121 earned more than Commissioner Ed Davis’ $167,500 annual salary, records show. Only one other city employee, interim School Superintendent Michael Contompasis, made more than $200,000 in 2006. He earned just a portion of the $270,000 for the part of the year he served in the post.

“These salaries are really a kind of insult to the taxpayer,” said Michael Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. “This whole issue seems to have mushroomed in recent years. To have 126 police officers make more than the mayor is a dramatic statement.”

By comparison, the Boston Fire Department had just three employees earn slightly more than Fire Chief Kevin MacCurtain, who had a gross pay of $163,163.

The lucrative police overtime and detail shifts have scores of city cops doubling and even tripling their base salaries.

Menino spokeswoman Dot Joyce said managing the city’s public safety needs while controlling payroll is “always a challenge.”

“Fiscal responsibility has always been a priority of the mayor,” Joyce said. “Our bond rating and our budget management has always been in the elite class. That should be a testament to the mayor’s fiscal restraint while at the same time making sure that basic city services are met.”

All 50 of the highest paid BPD officers have the rank of sergeant or higher. At the top of the list of Boston Police Department employees is Lt. Timothy Kervin, who earned $240,183 in 2006.

The top earning rank-and-file officer is patrolman Joseph Leeman, who made $186,609 in 2006, records show.

BPD union officials didn’t return a call for comment. BPD spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said the figures represent base salaries plus overtime and detail pay. She called it a “delicate balance” to budget overtime and maintain public safety.

As for the staggering salaries, she noted that detail pay “doesn’t come out of the city’s pocket.”

But Widmer shot down that argument, claiming that lofty police detail bills are passed onto taxpayers in the form of utility rate hikes.

“We’re ratepayers or we’re taxpayers. Whether it comes out of our left pocket or our right pocket, we’re all paying the bill,” Widmer said. “Utilities are not underwriting these costs, they’re passing them on to us.”

The Herald reported yesterday that state troopers working on the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority racked up $8.3 million in overtime last year and that troopers earned up to $58,000 in detail pay alone. The payouts resulted in 23 Pike troopers making more than $200,000 in 2006.

Massachusetts is the only state in the nation that requires police officers instead of civilian flagmen at road jobs, a practice Gov. Deval Patrick has said he intends to target.

Copyright 2007 The Boston Herald

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