Massachusetts State Troopers Got Paid For Phantom Shifts, State Police Head Says

JOHN TLUMACKI  GLOBE STAFF  FILE

JOHN TLUMACKI GLOBE STAFF FILE

One other Troop E member would have also been scheduled for a duty status hearing had he not retired a year ago, prior to the completion of the audit.

The troopers' union said while it does not condone the alleged overtime abuse, it will give its members the best legal representation possible.

State Police have provided information to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and Gilpin hinted that further action could be coming.

Gilpin called the allegations "very disheartening".

Gilpin today, March 20, announced that as a result of an audit of overtime patrols worked by certain members of Troop E, the Department will schedule internal duty status hearings for 19 members.

The discrepancies were discovered in overtime payments made to troopers assigned to special enforcement shifts on the Massachusetts Turnpike known as Accident Incidence Reduction Effort - or AIRE - patrols, created to crack down on risky driving.

The number of phantom shifts ranges from one to more than 100 per officer, she said.

The hearings will determine the duty status of the members while further investigation is conducted. That audit was only for the 2016 patrols, and other years will be examined. However, that member is now suspended without pay as the result of a separate matter now under investigation. "Through further investigation, we will seek to determine whether policies, rules or regulations of the State Police were violated, and will also seek to determine whether criminal charges are warranted".

The overtime shifts involve "accident and injury reduction patrols" (AIR Patrols), which have since been discontinued, Gilpin said.

"The Department has been in turmoil over the last several months".

She added that knowing that troopers were allegedly skipping patrols not just prior to her taking the lead of the department, but also under her watch, is why State Police will investigate other overtime patrols across the state.

"In order to fulfill our mission as a police agency we must have the public trust", she said.

She said her predecessor, former colonel Richard McKeon, launched an audit of overtime shifts on Troop E, which covers the Mass. Pike, after a discrepancy came to light between overtime hours filed and actual shifts worked.

"What Col. Gilpin is proposing to do in the future is going to make the state police a better organization and ensure that incidents like this never happen in the future", Bennett said.

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