WRAL Investigates

Durham investigating $60K in overtime for officer

Posted September 11, 2009 10:00 p.m. EDT
Updated September 12, 2009 6:57 a.m. EDT

— Durham officials have launched an investigation into nearly $60,000 in overtime paid to a police officer in the last 10 months, City Manager Tom Bonfield said Friday.

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 is more than her $52,665 annual salary.

Taylor, who has worked for the department for 12 years, coordinates off-duty jobs for officers, handles alcohol permits and schedules towing services. She couldn't be reached for comment.

"The city of Durham is taking this matter very seriously," Bonfield said.

Robinson-Taylor's job may require work from home, but the amount of overtime is extremely unusual, he said.

For example, she made about $8,000 in overtime last December, according to city data. The 246 hours of overtime amounts to about eight hours for each day of that month.

Bonfield said he first learned about the situation last week in an e-mail from a Durham resident. After going through police payroll data, he asked city auditors to investigate.

"We will correct, for sure, whatever problems are determined as a result of this," he said, adding that he believes it's an isolated case.

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

City Audit Services reports directly to Bonfield. The police department isn't involved in the investigation and referred all questions to Bonfield.

Auditors are trying to determine if the overtime hours were approved and documented or if they were entered into the system illegally.

"Whether it's tough times or good times, there is no place for fraud, abuse, waste, or mismanagement in local government, in the city of Durham's government or any place where we are entrusted with the public's money," Bonfield said.

He briefed council members about the situation this week.

"I appreciate his promptness in having a team look at this," City Councilman Mike Woodard said. "We need to make sure that we are using our resources wisely, including salary."

The audit could be completed and turned over to Bonfield by next week.