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Independence launches investigation in mismanagement of OT within police department

Independence police
Posted at 10:35 AM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 18:42:38-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Independence has found credible evidence of abuses of overtime within the police department, the city announced Thursday after a whistleblower alerted city officials earlier this week.

"Earlier this week, my staff and I received a report from a whistle blower within our organization sharing concerns about the misuse of overtime in the Independence Police Department related to non-law enforcement activity,” Independence City Manager Zach Walker said in a statement from the city. “Specifically, this information suggested that an employee of the Independence Police Department was being paid a significant amount of overtime to perform construction-related work within the Police Headquarters.”

A source close to the investigation told I-Team reporter Jessica McMaster that the officer in question accumulated 2,800 hours of overtime during a 12-month period, making from $160,000 to 170,000 for non-police-related work.

Additionally, the source told the I-Team the overtime was signed off on by a sergeant, captain and former Police Chief Brad Halsey.

The time slips detail construction work that includes things like painting, according to the source.

"At best, we've got gross incompetence," Walker said. "At worst, we've got fraud."

The officer in question was not identified, but the officer in question remains on duty, the source told KSHB 41 News.

An initial investigation found the whistleblower’s concerns to be credible and the city’s Finance Department also uncovered issues related to procurement.

Walker said a third-party firm will handle a robust investigation and he’s issued “an immediate cease and desist on construction work and non-law-enforcement overtime for the department.”

The third-party firm will assess “how this practice was permitted as well providing recommendations to prevent this type of activity from occurring in the future,” Walker said in a statement.

“We will reserve judgment until the conclusion of this investigation, and we will share findings to the greatest extent allowed by law,” Walker said.

He praised the whistleblower for bringing the mismanagement of taxpayer money to the city’s attention, noting that the 2017 Independence Strategic Plan called for improving fiscal “responsibility and employee engagement” in an effort “to be wise stewards of the public resources that are entrusted to us.”

A spokesperson for the Independence Police Department told KSHB 41 that the department will not have a statement and deferred to the city for comment.