The governor wants to reduce the mass. OT State Police, bring back the retirees

State police overtime cost taxpayers $51.5 million in 2021 and Gov. Charlie Baker is seeking to cut those costs by bringing recent retirees back to work to work the details.

The proposal, which fits deep into the $48.5 billion budget proposal released last week, would allow the state police colonel to hire retired soldiers in good standing as police officers. special police to perform police operations.

To be eligible, soldiers must have retired no more than three years prior, have honorable discharge status, be fit to perform police duties, be certified by the state’s new police oversight board, and have under 68, according to the bill.

The proposed policy aims “to ensure adequate coverage and reduce overtime costs,” according to the budget bill. State police have felt the tightening of personnel shortages exacerbated by the pandemic and have been under the microscope for soaring overtime costs amid allegations of abuse.

Baker did not mention the cost-cutting proposal last Wednesday when he unveiled his final spending plan as governor. His office also did not include it in its highlights reel. But abuses of state police overtime have been in the headlines for more than half of Baker’s term as governor.

In 2017, allegations of supervisors interfering in the arrest of a judge’s daughter and a handful of other wrongdoings would eventually uncover a massive overtime theft scandal that dragged down dozens of soldiers and resulted in suspensions , resignations and dozens of other federal and state charges.

Dennis Galvin of the Massachusetts Association of Professional Law Enforcement said it’s been common for local police departments to rely on recent retirees to fill shifts and said “there has to be some sort of cap on cop hours”.

“They have officers making $280,000 or $290,000 a year from overtime and when they work that much you have to wonder how alert they are, how physically capable they are,” Galvin said. . “Excessive overtime raises serious questions about officer capabilities, and it becomes a public policy and safety concern for everyone.”

The Herald’s “Your Tax Dollars at Work” series highlights top officer salaries, topped off with lucrative overtime. Private Robert Pinto was the highest-earning state police officer last year, raking in $289,463, including more than $105,000 in overtime. State police overtime has cost taxpayers between $51 million and $59 million a year for the past five years.

Galvin said the policy change should include “some kind of control” over the number of hours officers are allowed to work.

But the state police union is already pushing back on the proposal.

“These are jobs that serving soldiers absolutely can do and it is the union’s firm belief that they should be the ones doing this job,” a union spokesperson told the Herald.

The state police are currently engaged in active contract negotiations with the state, where the two sides are already at odds over the Baker administration’s attempt to insert a similar policy into their next contract.

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