Four Richmond VA police officers are suing the city for unpaid overtime. The officers filing the law suit were assigned to former mayor, Dwight C. Jones’ “Executive Protection Unit” (EPU). This specialized unit provided security and transportation for the mayor. According to the complaint, these officers worked and were paid “significant overtime” in the past. However, EPU operations and costs were subject to a great deal of scrutiny under Mayor Jones’ tenure.
From the complaint:
- During the Jones administration, the EPU was subject to considerable public scrutiny due to both its cost, and presumably its conspicuousness. See for example “Driving Dwight” Style Weekly, 11/2/2013; “Mayor Jones’ security to be slashed” Richmond Times -Dispatch, 1/1/2016; “Mayor’s security costs rise as police chief calls for more officers” Richmond Times-Dispatch 8/8/2015; “Richmond City Council agrees to curtail mayor’s security detail” Richmond Times-Dispatch 4/28/2016.
- On information and belief, RPD and the City each had a hypersensitivity to the perception that overtime paid to EPU was an example of wasteful government spending. However, rather than adequately staff the unit or simply reduce or eliminate coverage to Mayor Jones, RPD decided instead to prohibit payment of overtime earned by EPU members.
The complaint further alleges the city stopped paying for all hours worked by EPU officers in the spring of 2015.
- In May of 2015, EPU members were told by Chief Alfred Durham that they could no longer claim overtime hours and would not be allowed to input such hours into the POS timekeeping system and even those few permitted overtime entries were often deleted after the fact.
- For instance, after receiving a FOIA request in November of 2015 RPD Chief Durham removed eight hours of previously earned overtime from EPU member Franklin that he had worked providing security to a dignitary. Franklin was initially paid for these overtime hours. However, several months later, after receiving the FOIA request, Durham, or someone acting on his behalf, retroactively deducted the hours from Franklin’s pay.
- While this “no overtime” policy affected the number of hours EPU officers were paid for, it had no effect on the number of hours they worked. EPU officers continued to work far more than their nominally scheduled hours.
For more information, including a copy of the officer’s compliant, here is the story from WTVR.
If these facts seem familiar for some readers, the City of Richmond settled a previous overtime lawsuit with over 600 police officers in the summer of 2012 for $7.2 million. For more on that: