Used Car Lots Cincinnati – They were documents which triggered a political quake earlier this year, including the shooting of the assistant police chief and the forced resignation of a city manager, which had made the City Hall cracked. And now the city says it can’t find it. The initial audit of the outdated Cincinnati police, which leaked to the media in March, buried Mayor John Cranley and the City Council in a few months of political intrigue.
Since April, The Enquirer has asked the city for an official copy and original electronic version of the Cincinnati police overtime audit policy, along with supporting documents that surround the audit. But with Hamilton County prosecutors and Ohio auditors investigating the possibility of violating police overtime, city officials have not changed them.
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Earlier last month, The Enquirer sued the city for missing documents as part of a case involving several extraordinary open record requests. In response, the city attorney gave the Enquirer a related spreadsheet but not other documents, then told the Enquirer lawyer, Jack Greiner that they had fulfilled the request.
Police Captain Jeff Butler, Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) supervisor who conducted the audit, sued the city in 2017 for possible discrimination in the case of a whistleblower. Last Friday, the lawsuit was changed to accuse the city of destroying records that would prove that the audit was true.
Butler’s lawyer wondered whether police officers were blocking justice.
“Someone at City Hall or in the local government must ask whether the loss of documents or destruction of documents rises to the level of a barrier to justice,” said Brian Gillan, layman of Butler.
The initial draft police overtime audit obtained earlier this year by The Enquirer included these findings:
Accidental and intentional accusations of overtime torture by police in at least one district. The motive: To make more money.
Multiple billing possibilities. In particular, officers were paid twice – because they were in two places at the same time.
Lack of supervisor approval for more than half of the overtime sent during the audit period.
“Enough evidence to show there is a lack of management oversight, which has caused significant negative financial impacts on the department … and broad financial obligations” to the city.
Butler’s suit states that CPD “has incurred significant overtime costs, often as a result of inappropriate and illegal behavior.”
Overtime is a growing financial problem for CPD. It ran around $ 1.8 million – or 24 percent – exceeding last year’s budget.
Overall, CPD overtime has exploded even though the department has added more officers over the past two years.
Total police overtime in terms of hours and dollars has more than doubled since 2012 to $ 7.4 million in 2017. Some additional costs are due to Cranley negotiated salary increases and the City Council approved in 2017 election year, but the number of hours login also rises.
Eight months after the audit became public, only two low ranking officers were reprimanded because more than 94 violations among them were combined. Meanwhile, Chief Eliot Isaac told the City Council last month that more officers had to be added to the troops if the city wanted to avoid more mandatory overtime.
Dave Bailey, a former assistant chief of police who was forced out earlier this year by former city manager Harry Black, said that harassment could also trigger expensive overtime costs.
In an interview with The Enquirer, Bailey also said two officers who had been disciplined behind the audit were scapegoats for superior officers who knew about and might forgive ongoing overtime harassment.
“I want to emphasize that there are many people who make a lot of overtime who work very, very hard for it and they deserve what they get … and I don’t believe theft through overtime is widespread,” Bailey said.
But he said the missing documents were evidence that some CPD officers – especially in District 5, which included from the University of Cincinnati in the north to Mount Airy – collected the amount of overtime that was “excessive, unnecessary and inappropriate”.
“Command officers and some supervisors there make a lot of overtime,” Bailey said. “In my opinion, that is not sufficiently allocated and is not needed to achieve the police mission.”
He also says he tried to confront Isaac about an overtime audit, but nothing was done.
“There are brief discussions and uninterested reactions,” Bailey said. Isaac “even asked me if he needed to read it. I said he did it and asked for a command staff meeting to be put together to discuss the issues raised by this.
“Unfortunately that never happened.”
Bailey said he was fired shortly afterwards. He received severance pay of around $ 400,000.
CPD officials declined to comment on Bailey’s statement or about the status of the audit and several other questions, citing an ongoing investigation by the state auditor’s office.
Previously, Isaac said the audit was only a concept and some calculations were wrong and needed to be corrected.
Bailey also denied leaking “any documents” to the media, saying the audit and what was in it “was the reason I was fired.”
“This is more than me as a police officer – I’m also a taxpayer,” Bailey said. “This is not our money to do whatever we want.”
Audit causes a big reaction
When he moved to fire Bailey last spring, Black said the assistant chief was part of an “evil element” in the police department that tried to undermine Isaac’s authority.
Shortly thereafter, Cranley tried to fire Black, who finally agreed to resign in April with his own $ 270,000 severance package. But that only came after more than a month of fighting between Cranley, Black and City Council members who supported the city manager.
The termination grew to $ 644,000 in September when the city added $ 370,000 to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit for wrongful termination.
Black did not return messages looking for comments.
Audit also caused a major split in CPD.
District 5 was run by Captain Bridget Bardua, who filed a complaint of federal discrimination against the department in March, the day before the audit became public.
In the complaint, which is still under investigation by the Cooperation Opportunities Commission, Bardua said CPD officials chose him to leave for an audit because of his gender.
He personally worked more than 1,000 hours overtime in 2017. It was worth $ 82,000, according to the audit.
In his 2017 lawsuit, Butler accused Eliot and Bardua of having “inappropriate relations” and that he personally saw Eliot’s car at Bardua’s house several times.
Sergeant Jason Volkerding, one of Bardua’s direct reports, collected 2,100 hours of overtime, the most overtime from each officer in the entire department. It was worth $ 126,000, although it was unclear how much Volker was taken as payment and how much he took as compensation time for later use or cashed at retirement.
Two reprimanded officers, Brian Wheeler and Nicholas Hageman, both worked in District 5 and reported that they forgot to make the appropriate documents 94 times combined. (The document should note that they have gone 15 minutes between their regular duties and working outside the security quota.)
Both were given written warnings, according to documents obtained by The Enquirer under the Ohio Open Records Act.
Internal affairs officers interviewed five officers, including Wheeler and Hageman, for a total of 40 joint minutes, including a 22-minute interview from Hageman. That’s according to the recording of the interview obtained by the Enquirer.
In the interview, no officer was asked whether the supervisor knew the behavior, and both said they “forgot” to submit the appropriate documents.
Bailey said Wheeler initially tried to withdraw from CPD for this problem earlier this year but eventually stayed. He initially also requested a transfer out of District 5, but then Wheeler then mysteriously decided to stay.
“I left the department before I discovered what was happening there,” Bailey said.
Is the note destroyed?
In Butler’s lawsuit filed in the fall of 2017, the captain accused Black of retaliating after Butler complained about the possibility of misuse of taxpayer funds.
Butler amended his lawsuit later to accuse Cranley and Black of defaming his reputation, and then again Friday when he accused the city of possibly destroying records that would support the overtime audit he wrote.
“We knew that the note was clearly marked in the office when Jeff left and was removed from the examination, and we knew where they were in mid-March,” said Butler’s lawyer Gillan.
The latest complaint said that the city had known since June that the records were missing, and that the city did not seem difficult to restore even though there was a possibility of further investigations by state investigators and Hamilton County.
Last month, Butler also met with state auditors investigating the possibility of abuse of overtime. The investigation began at the request of district attorney Joe Deters, who would be responsible for filing criminal charges and holding a grand jury earlier this year in this case.
Officials with the state auditor’s office declined last week to comment on the status of the probe to overtime CPD but said in a statement “the auditor has the records needed to conduct our audit.” Deters were summoned by Cranley after a storm that caused the departure of Black and Bailey.
Immediately after meeting with the state auditor, Butler filed a complaint with the acting city manager, Patrick Duhaney.
Complaints state the department also lost records, other files and backup records relating to the audit.
Butler wrote that “the lack of availability of inspection documents and records is a significant problem and places broad responsibilities in the Police Department and the City of Cincinnati.”
According to documents obtained by The Enquirer, the department proposed changes to how overtime was monitored and reported.
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