Mass. State Police Audit Finds Overtime Abuse

A Massachusetts State Police officer keeps watch over a line of people waiting to pass through security before rehearsal for the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Esplanade in Boston in 2016. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
Massachusetts is experiencing long delays in police recruits, particularly candidates of color, due to a lack of sufficient funding at the state Civil Service Commission. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

A Massachusetts State Police internal audit found that more than 20 troopers may have been paid overtime for shifts they did not work, the department's commander, said Tuesday.

Nineteen active troopers face hearings at which they could be suspended without pay, Col. Kerry Gilpin said. In addition, one retired trooper and one trooper already on unpaid suspension for an unrelated matter were also implicated, she said.

Although she couldn't put a dollar figure on the questionable overtime, Gilpin said the number of shifts per trooper under scrutiny is from one to 100.

The audit of overtime patrols in 2016 "has revealed apparent discrepancies between overtime earnings paid to members and actual patrols worked by the 19 members who are being scheduled for the duty status hearings," she said at the department's Framingham headquarters.

The audit has been forwarded to the state attorney generals' office, which will determine if crimes were committed.

No names were released, but the troopers involved potentially could lose their pensions, Gilpin said.

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

"We hope that working with the Massachusetts Department of State Police administration will ensure that everyone involved is held accountable," Dana Pullman, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, said in a statement.

Pullman described "a department in turmoil," and said Gilpin has "been given the unenviable task of dealing with a myriad of untenable issues."

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, designed to crack down on dangerous driving.

"It is important to note that last year when this issue first came to light we eliminated the AIRE patrols," Gilpin said. "The department has also taken measures to increase accountability and oversight of remaining overtime shifts."

The alleged overtime abuse began long before Gilpin was appointed commander in November. The audit was launched by her predecessor, Col. Richard McKeon.

Gilpin called the allegations "very disheartening."

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

The audit will make the department stronger, state Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett said.

"What Col. Gilpin is proposing to do in the future is going to make the state police a better organization," he said.

The overtime audit is the latest scandal for the agency. In November, McKeon and his second in command resigned amid an investigation into the alteration of an arrest report involving a judge's daughter, which resulted in lawsuits by two troopers. Separately, a trooper once engaged to a man convicted of dealing drugs was placed on leave last month pending an investigation into her past.

This article was originally published on March 20, 2018.



More from WBUR

Listen Live