WRAL Investigates

Audit: Durham police chief dismissed overtime concerns

Posted September 30, 2009

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— Durham's deputy police chief signed off on thousands of dollars in overtime for one officer in the past year, according to a city audit released Wednesday.

Managers within the Durham Police Department also raised questions about the overtime with Chief Jose Lopez on at least one occasion, but he dismissed their concerns, according to the audit.

Durham police overtime audit Web only: Durham officials discuss police overtime

City Manager Tom Bonfield said the audit findings will be turned over to the Durham County District Attorney's Office to determine if any criminal charges are warranted. The State Bureau of Investigation also could get involved in the case because of the police department's working relationship with local prosecutors.

"I am personally embarrassed, but also I really am embarrassed for the Durham Police Department," Bonfield said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference to discuss the audit.

He ordered an audit into overtime at the police department about four weeks ago after receiving an e-mail from a Durham resident. The investigation was handled by city auditors, who are independent of the police department.

A review of Durham Police Department payroll records by WRAL News shows Alesha Robinson-Taylor was paid $59,545 from last October through July. The overtime was more than her $52,665 annual salary.

WRAL News reviewed overtime records for the rest of the police department and found no similar cases in recent months.

Bonfield said the city would seek reimbursement of about $40,000 to $45,000 from Robinson-Taylor. He said personnel laws precluded him from discussing possible disciplinary actions she might face.

The 12-year veteran of the police department coordinates off-duty jobs for officers, handles alcohol permits and schedules towing services.

Lopez said she is on leave, but declined to comment further. The audit notes that her duties have been split among other officers.

Auditors determined Robinson-Taylor would have had to work 79 hours per week, including the 16 weeks she was on leave, to accumulate the amount of overtime she claimed. Time sheets, phone records and e-mail logs couldn't substantiate the amount of overtime, the audit states.

The audit found that Deputy Chief B.J. Council approved 10 months worth of overtime logs for Robinson-Taylor without any documentation. Robinson-Taylor's supervisor was reassigned last fall after questioning Council about the excessive overtime, according to the audit.

The overtime was brought to Lopez's attention in April, but he said the amount Robinson-Taylor was accumulating "did not seem out of line" and said suspicions weren't warranted without documentation, the audit states.

Lopez said Wednesday that he spoke to his staff about curbing the overtime and was waiting to learn how much money was involved. He didn't ask for an audit.

"To be quite frank with you, I expected that to be automatic," he said.

Lopez said Council has filed her retirement notice, effective Dec. 31. She plans to begin using her accrued leave next week, he said.

Neither Council nor Robinson-Taylor could be reached Wednesday for comment.

Auditors recommended that the department tighten its overtime oversight and documentation and analyze the workload of the officer who coordinates off-duty jobs for officers to determine whether the position needs to be revamped.

Bonfield said he still has confidence in the police department's leadership, noting Lopez wouldn't have been sitting next to him at the news conference if he didn't believe in him.

Lopez, who termed the audit's findings "a blemish" on Durham and the police department, said he takes full responsibility for mistakes made under his command.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Deep Thought Oct 2, 2009

    It would seem that Taylor tried to take the whole cookie jar but Chief Lopez's actions concern me also.

    He was told about the overtime in April then "Lopez said Wednesday that he spoke to his staff about curbing the overtime and was waiting to learn how much money was involved. He didn't ask for an audit." If he waited from April until September, at the minimum 4 months, what the heck was he waiting for?

    Who stalled the Chief? Who didn't tell him how much money was involved? Is the Chief too busy to have a reminder list of things that have not been done? Is Durham's police department just too much for Lopez? Maybe promoting from within AGAIN would have been a better idea. Might not have been a better chief but he/she would have been a part of the system.

    Any police dept has it's own personality but it may be that Durham's is just too much for this chief.

  • schoobydooyellow Oct 1, 2009

    Let's see.....
    Taylor worked her normal 40 hours a week. She then worked another 200+ hours of work for the month that she submitted for OT pay at time and a half for 10 months. Also during this time she was still able to acquire comp time that added up to over 900 hours (Herald -Sun). This is criminal any way you look at it. Its impossible for this person to phyically work these many hours. The Chief was aware of this since April and was waiting for more info. 4 months went by after that and he still didn't see anything wrong. HMMMM. HOW LONG WOULD THIS HAVE CONTINUED IF THAT CITIZEN HADN'T REPORTED IT TO THE MANAGER???? Do these people think the

  • shawn92129 Oct 1, 2009

    "And this is not a criminal matter for the officer. This money was approved. If anything, for her, it is an administrative issue. THe same for the Deputy Chief and Chief. They both have some explaining to do, I think!

    filing false OT documents is fraud, even if they are approved.

    she should be fired, lose any retirement and be fined.

  • ccs1920 Sep 30, 2009

    Officer Taylor's job isn't one that has to be done by a sworn officer. Hire a civilian for $25,000 and let them do the job. Hire two and still save $2,000 a year plus the overtime. I see this ending in divorce court.

  • whoami1969 Sep 30, 2009

    WHAT? Now, after being negligent in her duties, she is allowed to retire? With her full benefits? She should be FIRED and lose her retirement benefits. This is ridiculous. How is this not considered embezzlement on the part of the officer and conspiracy to commit on the part of Council? I thought we got hosed when Marcia Conner left with her golden umbrella. Guess I was wrong. And what really sucks, both of these individuals are so far removed from "real" police work...yet they give the rank and file, who put their lives on the line every day, a cross to bear that should not be theirs to carry.

  • whoami1969 Sep 30, 2009

    Council needs to be TERMINATED immediately! And so does the officer who EMBEZZLED from the city! Then arrest them both for conspiracy.

  • james27613 Sep 30, 2009

    Should be a procedure in place to FLAG any employee, police or other dept. when they accrue any OT greater then 10% of their
    base salary. When you hit 50% OT then there is a big problem going on.

  • wcnc Sep 30, 2009

    "For too long have LEO's gotten away with these sorts of shady practices, and now they are being brought into the light."

    That doesn't mean that "all" LEO's are shady....or even 10% of them. It's just that the news only tells the bad side or when one is killed, so you never hear about the vast majority who are doing their jobs.

    "I wonder how high this really goes?"

    At DPD, apparently up to the Chief, since he was aware of this and said it was fine.....said it was FINE to double your salary with overtime?! Come on!

    And this is not a criminal matter for the officer. This money was approved. If anything, for her, it is an administrative issue. THe same for the Deputy Chief and Chief. They both have some explaining to do, I think!

  • delilahk2000 Sep 30, 2009


  • TarheelTurtle Sep 30, 2009

    This lady worked essentially a desk job: coordinating towing, jobs for off-duty officers and alcohol permits.

    What was so pressing that she had to be "called in" to perform?