“From a cost perspective, this resulted in the potential overpayment of $150,488 to troopers for 3,320 hours that the troopers did not work.”
Massachusetts State Police are not like you and me.
It’s not only their urban cowboy hats and thigh-high leather boots that set them apart either. Unlike people who get paid for the number of hours they toil, on off-duty detail shifts, MSP troopers get paid in eight-hour lumps no matter how long they work.
Sound too crazy to be true?
Don’t take our word for it. Just check out the newly released Division of State Police Oversight: 2021 Annual Report issued by the office of Mass Inspector General Glenn A. Cunha. …
First, here are the basics via the inspector general regarding the absurd Bay State tradition of having cops direct traffic (and by “direct traffic,” I of course mean ogling Instagram, harassing passersby, and treating anyone who dares ask them a question like a criminal nuisance): “Paid police details are optional work assignments that generally involve security or road construction safety and that troopers can work in addition to their regular work schedule. They can represent a significant source of supplemental income for troopers. For instance, in 2016, close to 1,700 MSP troopers worked over 67,000 eight-hour paid details and received over $24,000,000 for this work.”
[Read Chris Faraone’s feature-length investigation into the Mass State Police: Trooper Wilson’s War]
As news watchers may recall, troopers, as well as law enforcement officers from towns and cities across Mass, have been caught with their paws inside the detail jar innumerable times. It’s basically just how things have always gone down around here. And so for that and other reasons related to brazen and ongoing officer, administrator, and cop union impropriety, in 2018 lawmakers established the Division of State Police Oversight. You may have missed their latest report since it barely registered beyond the Boston Globe, but the accountability office’s findings about details, which the “Commonwealth paid for a large portion of,” while “private businesses and other entities paid for the rest,” are profane, however predictable.
Speaking of details, here’s more from Cunha:
This past year, the Division reviewed records related to a sample of troopers who signed up to work eight-hour paid details in 2016, and who claimed that the detail lasted between four and five hours. At the time, if a trooper worked more than four hours of an eight-hour detail, the trooper was paid for the full eight hours. If the trooper worked four hours or less, they received four hours of pay.
The Division found that in 50% of the instances where the trooper indicated on their time records that they worked between four and five hours of the eight-hour detail, corresponding cruiser radio records did not support the trooper’s claim of time worked. From a cost perspective, this resulted in the potential overpayment of $150,488 to troopers for 3,320 hours that the troopers did not work. In addition, this conduct violated the MSP’s rules regarding paid details.
And just when you thought things might get a little better. Or at least that they couldn’t get any worse. …
Furthermore, in July 2020, the MSP and the State Police Association of Massachusetts (SPAM) entered into an agreement that requires troopers who sign up for an eight-hour detail to be paid for eight hours regardless of how long they work the detail. The MSP also now places sole responsibility on the entity requesting the detail to decide whether the detail should be four or eight hours long, without any input, guidance or uniformity from the MSP.
In response, totally credible spokespeople from SPAM and the state police said things have shaped up in the time since, then went and laughed their asses clean off knowing that this insanely damning report wouldn’t even surface in a single evening news cycle.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.