WRAL Investigates

Discipline questioned in Durham police overtime 'abuse'

Alesha Robinson-Taylor was fired Thursday for receiving nearly $60,000 in overtime pay that records couldn't substantiate. The manager who approved most of the overtime, Deputy Chief B.J. Council, is being allowed to retire.

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DURHAM, N.C. — Some Durham police officers are questioning the discipline meted out in the investigation of an officer who received nearly $60,000 in overtime pay in 10 months.
Alesha Robinson-Taylor, who had been on administrative leave since Sept. 30, was fired Thursday for "abuse of overtime and compensatory time claimed," according to an audit by City Manager Thomas Bonfield.

Auditors found that Deputy Chief B.J. Council approved most of the overtime. Council is using accrued leave before her retirement, effective Dec. 31.

"We've got grave concerns about the disparity of treatment there," said Cpt. Andy Miller, who is president of the North Carolina Sheriff-Police Alliance.

Robinson-Taylor, who coordinated off-duty jobs for officers, handled alcohol permits and scheduled towing services, is appealing her termination, her attorney Butch Davis said.

The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating to determine if criminal charges are warranted, and the city is seeking reimbursement from Robinson-Taylor.

Auditors determined that time sheets, phone records and e-mail logs couldn't substantiate the $59,545 in overtime Robinson-Taylor got between last October and July. The overtime was nearly $7,000 more than her annual salary.

The audit found that Chief Jose Lopez dismissed concerns about the excessive overtime when managers raised the issue with him in April.

Miller said those findings could cause trouble for police morale.

"(It) sends a message that if you climb high enough in the police department, you are not going to be held accountable for your actions," he said.

Officials with the Durham chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police said they have no plans to challenge the decisions.

Miller said he is meeting with Bonfield next Tuesday. Beverly Thompson, a spokeswoman for Bonfield, said they won't discuss any personnel matters.

Lopez declined to comment, as did Thompson, citing personnel matters.


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