Even Cops Need Some Sleep (Update)

Schenectady police officer Dwayne Johnson made good money.  Really good money.  From the Daily Gazette :

Dwayne Johnson, who was the city’s highest paid officer last year with earnings of $168,921, spends most Tuesday early mornings in an apartment at the corner of Queen Philomena Boulevard and Sir Benjamin Way, near Kings Road. Although Johnson is typically scheduled to patrol the city until 8 a.m., he parks his marked police car on Sir Benjamin Way just before 4 a.m. and remains indoors for several hours.

It’s hard work making all that money.  It can wear a man down, and no one wants a worn down cop, right?

The eight-year veteran of the department was observed by a Daily Gazette reporter and other witnesses as he entered and stayed in the apartment on five Tuesdays in a row this year. The Daily Gazette a week ago reported the matter to the Police Department, which confirmed Johnson’s absence from patrols through the city’s new GPS units. Chief Mark Chaires said Johnson’s Tuesday absences from duty have been recorded by the new units nearly every week since they were installed in November.

Chaires was disgusted to learn of yet another case of an officer not working during his shift.

“Here we go again,” Chaires said. “How dumb can you be? You know you have a GPS in your car. Why would anybody do that?”

It’s always fun when the Chief asks a question like this, because it makes people think about it.  Let’s see; there are GPS units in patrol cars that cost $22,00 apiece.  There’s a cop making triple his salary, highest paid on the force.  He’s ditching patrol and going to some apartment every Tuesday (maybe he doesn’t need a snooze on Thursdays?).  And neither Chief Chaires nor anybody else on the force thinks that somebody ought to take the occasional gander at their top earner, the big money man, to make sure they are getting their money’s worth?

How dumb indeed. 

Had the Weekly Gazette reporter not investigated and followed Dwayne Johnson, he would still be happily in the apartment at the corner of Queen Philomena Boulevard and Sir Benjamin Way, near Kings Road, the GPS system notwithstanding.  He would still be clocking 70 hours a week.  He would still be pulling down the big overtime money.

How dumb?  Not as dumb as you, Chief.

But don’t fear that Johnson will go unpunished.  My bet is that his wife will have a few questions about what he was doing in that apartment every Tuesday morning.  If he wasn’t sleepy going in, I bet he was coming out.

Update:  Giacalone, who enjoys the occasional nap himself, provides some additional insight:

(Feb. 20, 2009): The Gazette tells us this morning that Officer Johnson was “suspended without pay Thursday while the department investigates the extent of his absences during his overnight patrols.”  He apparently will have to be paid if kept on suspension longer than 30 days. “Absent officer out for month : Bennett begins cop AWOL probe; union issues cited” (Feb. 20, 2009).  I’m surprised that Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett believes “it will take well over a month to finish the investigation into Johnson’s absences. Also under review are the supervisors who did not notice them and the officers who may have tipped him off when internal affairs attempted to catch him in the act early last Tuesday.”  I’m not surprised that he expects the police union to argue napping has become a “past practice,” approved regularly by lower-level supervisors, that cannot be changed without union approval.

The Gazette notes that “Some officers, who spoke anonymously, say everyone who works long shifts takes naps, beginning at lunchtime. They argued that an unspoken rule in the department allows napping to continue after lunch as long as police get up as soon as they get a call.”  Bennett says: “If someone had the absolute and unmitigated gall to call [napping] a past practice, well, supervisors do not have that kind of authority to authorize that.”

The new frontier for police contracts: Napping Clauses. 

H/T Giacalone.

2 thoughts on “Even Cops Need Some Sleep (Update)

  1. David Giacalone

    Thanks for covering this story, when your Schenectady blawg-buddy is too worn out to write about it.

    Officer Johnson was the highest paid employee of Schenectady last year (indeed, in the history of the City), and thanks to overtime, “Johnson isn’t the only cop listed among the city’s top-grossing employees in 2008. Excluding Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett, 18 of the 20 top-grossing employees in Schenectady are members of the police force, according to a list released by the city on Friday.” Why so much overtime? The Department is short on personnel, because so many cops are suspended (with pay) due to one investigation or another for misconduct.

    An editorial today in the Gazette says:

    “He deserves to be fired, and anybody but a union officer or lawyer, or perhaps arbitrator, would agree.”

    I’m never thrilled by folks (lawyers, cops, etc.) who turn an income mechanism that makes sense in some situations into a racket that bilks the public. I’m even less thrilled about large guys with guns doing stressful jobs and working double-shifts every day. Johnson averaged 75 hours a week last year.

  2. David Giacalone

    p.s. Scott, we both somehow avoided the temptation to ask: Was this a secret “under-cover” operation by Officer Johnson?

    Sadly, though, I could resist Cheap Punning for just so long.

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