Even as the so-called mainstream media (and we’re not really certain what qualifies as “mainstream” anymore) shifts into its sympathetic mode for Superintendent of State Police Mike Edmonson, there are lots of loose ends still lying around that LouisianaVoice will continue to report.
As we wrote in Wednesday’s post, the controversy swirling around Louisiana State Police (LSP) headquarters in Independence Boulevard was never just about a trip to San Diego.
It’s about the overall atmosphere permeating the agency and trooper morale which is said to be at an all-time low. That’s because in spite of generous pay raises bestowed upon troopers, the rank and file feel the administration has put its own interests ahead of those of the agency and its personnel.
The parties, inconsistent discipline dictated by whether or not a trooper is a member of the elite clique, distinguished troopers passed over for promotions in favor of lesser qualified candidates, trips, many trips, taken by LSP management and not all strictly for business; and we have received reports of free trips, which would be in violation of regulations set forth by the State Ethics Board.
GENERAL PROHIBITIONS (R.S. 42:1111 – 1121)
- 1115 – Elected officials and public employees are prohibited from soliciting or accepting a gift from the following persons: persons who have or are seeking to obtain a contractual or other business or financial relationship with the public servant’s agency; or persons who are seeking, for compensation, to influence the passage or defeat of legislation by the public servant’s agency. Public employees, not elected officials, are also prohibited from soliciting or accepting a 4 gift from the following persons: persons who conduct operations or activities regulated by the public employee’s agency; or persons who have substantial economic interests which may be substantially affected by the performance or non-performance of the public employee’s official duties.
There are events and conditions not yet reported but which will be. And they are scattered throughout the organization, from LSP to the Louisiana State Troopers Association (LSTA), and the Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC). Especially LSPC, which is charged with overseeing State Police in the same manner as the Civil Service Commission oversees the rights of state civil service employees. That one commission, chaired by a State Trooper, has purged its membership if all but one member who is not easily identified as an Edmonson supporter and has morphed into something of a secretive club now rumored to be carrying on extra-curricular activities far outside the scope of its mission.
And one other facet of operations at LSP largely overlooked up to now is the issue of overtime hours. While troopers charged with carrying out investigations of criminal activity are finding it next to impossible to get overtime approved from their superiors and are forced to conduct investigations on their own time, others are finding it much easier to pad their paychecks.
Take Master Trooper Thurman D. Miller, for example.
Miller, who serves as President of the CENTRAL STATE TROOPERS COALITION, which is affiliated with the National Black State Troopers Coalition, is called the “One Man Overtime Machine” by his fellow troopers, though probably not to his face.
It’s a title well-earned.
From last June 20, 2016, through March 12 of this year, Miller has reported working 1,066 hours of overtime. Of that amount, he was paid time-and-a-half for 951 hours with the balance of 115 hours taken as compensatory, or K-time, meaning he gets paid leave for a like number of hours worked.
That works out to nearly 60 hours of combined overtime and K-time for every two-week pay period since last June—75 percent of a regular two-week, 80-hour pay period.
Miller, who makes $72,600 in regular salary, earned $50,400 in straight time during that period and nearly matched that amount in overtime earnings of another $45,900. Plus, he accumulated almost three weeks extra paid vacation.
So, not quite having worked 70 percent of a year since last June, he already has been paid 131 percent of his base yearly salary.
But the real kicker is found in his daily time sheets.
For example, during one stretch last August when his time sheet shows that he was assigned to disaster relief while working the South Louisiana floods, he logged 24-hour days for four consecutive days.
But that’s nothing. The month before, working extra security in the wake of the Alton Sterling shooting in Baton Rouge, iron-man Miller logged 24-hour shifts for nine consecutive days.
State Police Public Information Officer Maj. Doug Cain said there are provisions for allowing troopers to be called in on emergency duty and not allowed to go home. “They sleep 20 or 30 minutes and go back on duty,” he said.
And on that infamous drive to San Diego in October, Miller initially reported two consecutive 24-hour shifts on Oct. 11 and 12 followed by a 22-hour shift on the 13th, but was forced to trim 12 hours off each of the 24-hour claims of Oct. 11 and 12 and to eliminate altogether the 14-hours overtime claimed for Oct. 13 in a revised timesheet. It was not immediately known if he was paid for the excessive hours and required to repay the state or not.
Here are a few samples of Miller’s timesheets (Click on images to enlarge):
Cain said that during the flood, state offices were closed and Miller and other officers were compensated for hours state offices were closed and for hours actually worked.
The LSP Policy Manual specifically addresses the issue of excessive overtime:
Officers/Civilians shall not work more than a total of 16 cumulative hours without having a rest period of 8 consecutive hours off-duty. An 8 hour rest period shall be required following 16 cumulative work hours before returning to regular duty or an overtime assignment. Exceptions to the 16 hour rule require the approval of the Troop/Section Commander or designee. Cumulative hours are defined as any combination of regular work hours and/or overtime/details.
Commanders and supervisors are urged to exercise caution and sound judgment when considering whether to allow an officer/civilian to work more than 16 cumulative hours.
Troop/Section Commanders, Region Commanders and Unit Supervisors are responsible for effectively managing work schedules to minimize overtime.
Reasonable justification shall mean that the work could not be performed by other on-duty personnel or that time constraints require that the work be immediately performed.
If overtime is necessary, every effort to minimize the total accumulation shall be made by all supervisory personnel.
Miller, it should be pointed out, works in Operations and not Investigations. And while he’s racking up all that overtime, there are troopers spread across the state who need overtime to complete ongoing investigations but cannot get approval for it.
They do their investigations on their own time which somehow makes the whole picture seem a little out of kilter.
Yet another symptom of a much large problem that is plaguing LSP.