28 cops accused of illegal OTs
The CNMI Department of Public Safety has launched an investigation into 28 officers who are being accused of incurring illegal overtime.
DPS placed yesterday the 28 police officers on administrative duty for allegedly unjustified overtime hours.
According to acting DPS commissioner Clement Bermudes, DPS is investigating this matter as a criminal case.
“The complaints of illegal and unjustified overtime involving several police officers will be taken seriously. Pending the results of the investigation, these police officers will be held accountable for their actions. As sworn officers, we will always maintain the highest ethical standards, upholding the laws of our Commonwealth,” said Bermudes.
He assures that more information will be released pending the ongoing investigation.
Last year, the transition team assigned to DPS found that the department requested approval for over 11,000 hours of overtime—roughly one year and a half’s’ worth of regular work hours—in just one pay period in December.
More specifically, the transition report noted a whopping 11,127.25 overtime hours were requested for the pay period from Dec. 4, 2022, to Dec. 17, 2022.
In addition, the transition team also stated that upon review of timesheets and OT requests from January 2022 to January 2023, it found that DPS has been paying out excessive OT accruals for the same group of officers, some higher-ranking officers and certain lower ranking ones as well—specific to certain sections.
The transition team found that, of the over 11,000 hours in overtime, about 4,000 OT hours, roughly about five-and-a-half months of regular hours, were requested for 40 officers who were allegedly part of former DPS commissioner Robert Guerrero’s “inner circle.”
The transition report said there is reason to believes that possible fraud and theft of government time was committed.
“There is evidence of possible fraud/theft of government time in terms of excessive OT within the same group of officers every pay period. OT per officer would run anywhere from 50 hours to 145 hours. First responders that are lower ranking officers are only allowed 30-40 hours OT maximum, whereas higher ranking officers were allowed to accrue OT past 40 hours, usually amounting to 60 or more each pay period, with one officer clocking in over 200 hours of overtime in one single pay period,” the transition report states.