By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — SALEM — The officer responsible for overseeing the police department’s private detail assignments has been suspended after Chief Paul Tucker found he appears to have worked details while on duty and improperly documented his hours.
Capt. Brian Gilligan, the city’s second highest-paid employee last year, runs the Special Operations Division, which oversees not only all detail assignments but the rules pertaining to officers who perform them.
Letter from Chief Tucker to Capt. Gilligan
Gilligan, who declined to comment for this story, was penalized with a five-day unpaid suspension, loss of 12 vacation days and a 14-day prohibition from working details, Tucker said. He also has been removed from his duty overseeing the details system, though he remains a captain and in control of his division.
“This is not something that we’re taking lightly,” Tucker said. “Police officers have to be held to a higher standard.”
The penalty comes at the completion of an administrative review Tucker ordered after hearing something around the station that led him to question Gilligan’s work habits, he said. The review uncovered about 24 instances over the past year in which Gilligan appeared to have worked details — which pay $40 an hour — while on duty, a violation of department policy.
“He had left work to work the details,” Tucker said. “He took some time off, but he didn’t properly document all the time off that he should’ve taken. ... If you look at the records, it would suggest he was on both at one time.”
The review confirmed that Gilligan had probably worked private details while on duty, but if so, Gilligan’s own shoddy record-keeping made the problem look bigger than it actually was, Tucker said. He added that while he’d heard rumors that Gilligan was “on city time working hours and hours of details,” that wasn’t true.
“Were there times that he left work here [to work a private detail] and maybe left a little early? Yeah, there probably were,” Tucker said. “But we’re not talking about large blocks of time. We might be talking about an hour.”
In at least one instance, Gilligan left work early with the intention of making the time up later but never documented that he had, Tucker said. In other instances, Gilligan started his day at work and ended at a detail site, but he put in for only a half-day of vacation when he should have used a whole one.
“There were a lot of instances where he should’ve been able to document the reason why he left early, and he didn’t,” Tucker said.
Tucker said it was difficult to say how many times Gilligan could have double-dipped, mainly because of Gilligan’s own record-keeping habits.
“I don’t know how many, only because when we went back, it’s hard to match up,” Tucker said. “He didn’t keep the records he should have.”
Tucker has found formally only that Gilligan violated the department’s regulations on “false information on records,” not that he actually double-dipped, though Tucker said it was likely that Gilligan had done so. Finding that an officer had actually double-dipped could constitute “conduct unbecoming of an officer,” a different violation, Tucker said.
According to a May 29 letter Tucker sent to Gilligan, it’s also possible that Gilligan had at times been paid by a contractor for a detail while he was still working at the police station. Tucker also said he’d warned Gilligan before about properly documenting hours so that he didn’t appear to be “double-dipping.” The chief also acknowledged that, “you often work beyond your regular tour, including nights and weekends, without putting in for overtime.”
In response to the issue, Tucker said he has tightened the rules for officers working private details, including requiring them to call in over the radio when they arrive at the work site and do so again when they leave, so that the exact times are documented through the department’s recording system. Other rule changes include barring officers from using a portion of a vacation day to work a detail instead of a whole one.
“I’m confident that this won’t happen again,” Tucker said. “When we don’t get it right, we fix it.”
Mayor Kim Driscoll, who met yesterday with Tucker and representatives of the two police unions representing both patrolmen and superior officers, said everybody involved “embraced” the new, stricter set of rules regarding details and documenting related hours.
“I would characterize it as policy reform,” Driscoll said. “We were operating a little too loose in respect to details. ... We’re going to put in place some reforms to make sure that doesn’t happen going forward.”
Gilligan has already served two days of the suspension and will serve the other three at a later time. No other officers have been implicated in the investigation.
Gilligan’s pay last year amounted to more than $168,000, including $85,000 in base pay, $8,000 in overtime, $45,000 in additional compensation and $29,000 in miscellaneous pay. The last category includes money earned during details.
Tucker estimated the total punishment would cost Gilligan about $8,600.
Neil H. Dempsey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NeilDempseySN.