Action News 5 Investigates: Overtime Offenders - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Action News 5 Investigates: Overtime Offenders

By Andrew Douglas - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - It's been a tough year for state employees in Tennessee.  Thousands have been laid off, with others taking forced time-off without pay.

So you can imagine the level of embarrassment at the Board of Probation and Parole when it discovered the enormous amount of overtime some employees were claiming.

Probation officers help ex-cons walk the straight and narrow, and if the cons slip up, the officers follow them. It's the type of job that demands odd hours, but who in the world allowed some officers to work - without limits - for the greater part of 2008?

Bo Irvin is the executive director of the Board of Probation and Parole, and 25 of his officers made more than $5,000 in overtime last year. 

Keep in mind, salary range for this position is generally between $27,000 and $32,000 annually.

Take a look:

  • Officer A made almost $21,000 in overtime.
  • Officer B made $26,000 in overtime, for reasons including home visits and group reporting.
  • Officer C had $30,000 in overtime. That's what happens when you are allowed to work 8 am to 8 pm any Saturday you want to, including office and home visits at time and a half.
  • Officer D made $50,000 dollars in overtime.  He routinely worked 20 hour days, with only one day off in a 60 day stretch.

Who is responsible for this?

"I would describe it as a supervision issue, because the directives were there. They were in place," Irvin said.

Irvin says there's a clear directive to all supervisors to find ways to reduce overtime, and while they never told them exactly what the ceiling was for OT, it's obvious they just weren't doing the job.

The overtime employees are not limited to the Division of Probation and Parole. The highest overtime achiever was a security guard working in Mental Health Services.  His base pay is just over $32,000 per year, yet he made an astonishing $74,000 in overtime last year, turning his security job into a six-figure salary!

Eight state employees made major overtime in Shelby County last year.

One employee, at the TBI regional lab on Haley, upped her pay from $55,000 to almost $83,000 with overtime. 

TBI spokesperson Kristin Helm said the employee is one of the TBI's best.

"She worked Lester Street, Lisa Davis, Matthew Winkler…all these big cases," Helm said. "We have done anyway with any and all OT because it's not in the budget anymore, except in that section of the lab and they get to continue to work overtime because it is federally funded."

The state put in an overtime freeze this year to cut back on OT at night and on weekends.  We're told departments had to come up with some creative schedules to keep up with the work.  And at Probation and Parole, at least one supervisor was fired, another was suspended.

"It's frustrating, when we had the procedures and policies in place," Irvin said. "This should have been avoided. This shouldn't have happened."

Several state employees are now working new shifts to cover weekends without overtime  A spokesperson at the Board of Probation and Parole says it's not just a pay concern, but a safety concern, anytime an employee works overtime for days on end.

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