three-pronged investigation into the system for
providing the services of off-duty county police
officers to private organizations and, in
particular, into how they were paid for performing
those services is a month or so away from producing
its initial results.
Auditor Robert Wasserbach
told County Council's public safety committee that, with the
assistance of an outside auditing firm, he expects to have
finished a review of the off-ledger 'contractual services'
fund and to begin preparing a draft report by the end of
Guy Sapp, director of public
safety, said that a police internal affairs investigation
will likely complete interviewing officers directly
involved with administering the fund within about the same
timeframe. The interviews are being conducted "in full
compliance" with the officers' protected rights, he added.
Sapp and county attorney
Gregg Wilson were less forthcoming about the status of what
they described as "looking into any issue related to the
chief of police." The chief, David McAllister, has been on
paid administrative leave since Jul. 25 when County
Executive Christopher Coons announced in a press statement
that an unspecified something had been found awry.
Referring to the overall
situation, Sapp said, "We have determined what occurred.
What we're trying to find out is why it occurred."
Several times during the
course of a long discussion at the committee meeting on
Sept. 6 it was emphasized that there have been no
allegations of illegality nor has anyone been accused of
violating any law.
In presenting a summary of
his work on the audit to the committee, Wasserbach said
that, because it is incomplete, he could not "give any
But he went on to lift the
curtain slightly to offer a peek at the course of the audit
by enumerating several questions he said his report will
answer. Among the apparently significant ones:
• Were officers paid twice
for the same job?
• Did officers receive and
did the department file the required Internal Revenue
Service form reporting off-duty income?
• Did any officers exceed the
20-hour-a-week limit on the amount of off-duty police work
that regulations allow them to perform?
• Were organizations which
contracted for the services all billed at the same rate?
• Was anything other than
off-duty police work paid for from the 'contractual
He said the report also would
address "the reasonableness of the [fund's] current account
Sapp also dropped a hint
about the scope of the investigation when he said internal
affairs investigators would interview "at most 10 or 12
people" other than the police chief.
Wasserbach said the audit
covered 6,300 checks going back to Jan. 1, 2002. Between
then and June 30, 2005, he added, $2.4 million was deposited
into the fund bank account and checks totaling $2.1 million
were drawn upon it.
Officers were paid at the
rate of $35 an hour while organizations were billed $40 an
hour. As a result, "obviously more money was going into the
account than was coming out," he said.
Sapp revealed that since July
the rate has gone up to $53.50 an hour. As previously
reported, officers are now receiving time-and-a-half
overtime pay for their services. That is adjusted upward to
$35 if their rank and length of service would entitled them
to less, he said.
He said that there has been
"no diminution in the number of off-duty jobs" which have
been requested. Although "we are scrutinizing more carefully
[the requesting organizations] than was done in the past,
... there has been no interruption in service to the
public," he said.
In order for off-duty service
to be self-supporting -- including covering not only the
officers' pay but also the cost of their use of department
equipment -- the rate is likely to be increased still
further. However, he added, the intent is "to remain
competitive" with state and other police agencies which
provide such service.
If County Council, as
expected, enacts pending legislation to establish a new
arrangement when it next meets on Sept. 13, Sapp said he
expects that system to be functioning by mid-October.
Councilwoman Patty Powell
questioned what precipitated the investigation at this time
since the fund has existed for 30 to 40 years and all police
officers and many other county employees, as well as
officials "going back several administrations," have been
well aware of its existence. She is a retired county
employee with many years of personnel-related service.
"Suddenly there is this big
investigation," she said. "If there was anything [wrong] out
there, it needed to be found out long ago."
After Wasserbach said that
his draft report will be submitted to Sapp and other
administration officials for review and comment before a
final report is made, Powell moved that he also be required
to submit the report in draft form to Council members. Her
motion was approved without dissent.
Later in the proceedings,
however, Council's attorney, Wendy Danner, pointed out that
recently enacted state legislation provides for prior review
of audit reports and requires that the draft be "a
confidential document" until that is done and any subsequent
revisions are made. The final version of the report, he
said, is in the public domain.