The Record in New Jersey is reporting that a police chief has come under fire for earning $30,000 in overtime in two years for DUI enforcement operations.
As the Massachusetts DUI Attorney Blog recently reported, OUI roadblocks have little value in actually catching drunk drivers. In fact, police view the purpose as a way to keep drunken driving in the minds of drivers. Yet, they cost tens of thousands of dollars — provided by state and federal grants typically — to operate.
And a big chunk of that money goes to pay police officers overtime so they can stand around and watch passing cars. Police officers are just like any other worker when they are working a job. They want it to go by quickly and they want to get paid.
When officers set up operations to target OUI in Taunton or elsewhere in Massachusetts, they are looking for common traffic violations, such as speeding, swerving, improper lane change, stopping and starting or other ways to initiate a traffic stop. During a checkpoint, no such probable cause is necessary.
When a driver is stopped by officers, they should remain calm and answer the questions politely. If you believe you are being investigated for OUI, don’t make any statements and tell them you wish to speak with a Taunton OUI lawyer immediately. Everyone has a right to not say anything if they are suspected of a crime.
According to the news article, the police chief in Elmwood Park New Jersey earned about $30,000 in overtime that payroll records show was paid out for drunken-driving operations.
Between Jan. 1, 2010 and Oct. 6, the chief got $29,436 on top of his $205,000 annual salary. Officials are investigating whether the chief was entitled to get that pay and if other department heads also got overtime pay.
The newspaper reports that the chief’s contract has no provision for overtime pay, while other police officers’ contracts clearly outline when they should be paid overtime and at what rate.
The chief told city council recently that he supervised OUI posts, making sure roadblocks were in the proper place and that procedures were followed. These roadblocks are typically covered by state or federal grants. Yet, police chiefs and other officials typically are salaried and can’t earn overtime pay.
While city officials are investigating, it seems on the surface like a bad deal for taxpayers. A chief of a town of 19,000 with a small force of only 37 gets $200,000 per year. And on top of that, he’s bringing in thousands in overtime?
And his excuse is that he had to supervise OUI roadblocks, which have little value anyway?
OUI roadblocks are typically set up in an area near bars or where patrons would drink and then later drive. Officers will usually set up barriers to funnel traffic so they can stop each vehicle and question each driver.
Their goal is to see if people are intoxicated — or might (in the opinion of the officer) be intoxicated. Some people get pulled over and others just get to drive through and there typically is no reason why some drivers are put through this process and others get to go by. The decision is made by officers working the post.
In most situations, very few drivers are actually arrested. Most pass through and go on their way, yet police departments nationwide are spending millions of dollars on these operations with few results.