The Empire Center for Public Policy put together a list of the 50 highest paid city, town, village, and county employees across Upstate and Western New York.
Five of the people on this list are police officers.
Four of those officers work for Buffalo Police.
Police officials cite overtime as the most likely reason that BPD employees Marlene Mott and Michael Quinn earned more than $200,000 in a single year.
“Having almost 110 officers less manpower than we’re supposed to have caused a great deal of overtime,” said Buffalo Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo.
Scott Malec and Mark Tripp made about $187,000 in the 2016-2017.
In that year, Capt. Rinaldo says they had less than 690 officers on the force. The department is budgeted to have 803 officers.
A further dive into the numbers indicates just how dire the situation was.
In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, Buffalo Police budgeted $11,000,000 for overtime costs.
They exceeded that number by more than $2.6 million dollars, according to city budget records.
Rinaldo said the way the system used to be set up, the salaries could skew. That’s why officers showed up on that Top 50 list.
“Based on the seniority provision, that means that the top senior officers in those districts had the first right of refusal for any overtime shift that occurred. It did allow some officers to greatly increase their pay,” Rinaldo said.
The system is now set up so that only the senior officer on an opposite shift can get the first OT offer.
A Buffalo police union leader warns overtime numbers could jump again soon.
“We’ve already had close to 40 retirements this year. I know there’s quite a few talking about going in the fall and December,” said Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans.
Since the end of the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the department has hired about 130 officers.
In fact, more than 30 police recruits were sworn in just last month.
The only issue is that they will not be ready for the road for another nine months.
Captain Rinaldo told us that a lot of overtime isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
That is because one officer working a lot of overtime is still just earning one pension and one package of medical benefits.
He also pointed out the same thing Evans pointed out – that these officers are earning that money.