New info in Durham police scandal

October 26, 2009 9:00:00 PM PDT
Last week, the City of Durham released an electronically redacted report that showed several months before a fired Durham police officer was put in charge of coordinating off-duty work, the department's top brass was aware of several problems with its moonlighting program. Click here to read the report (.pdf)

Former Officer Alesha Robinson Taylor was terminated for inappropriately raking in more than $62,000 in overtime. Her supervisor, Deputy Chief BJ Council signed off on her timesheets, according to a city audit that reviewed the off-duty program from September 2008 to August 2009.

But, another internal investigation was launched more than a year before the audit. The police chief received a letter raising concerns about the management of the off-duty work program and ordered a review.

The redacted report conducted from January 2008 to June 2008 does not mention any allegations of overtime abuse or names. However, an inspection of the program found several glaring issues including "a failure to appropriately supervise and oversee the program."

The report also suggests supervisors failed to offer clear direction and that members of the chain of command were given and offered jobs that were never open to all personnel. A recommendation in the report calls for removing high level command from administrations decisions and hiring a civilian to operate the program.

The City of Durham electronically redacted the .pdf document before releasing it to ABC11's I-Team investigative unit. But Kevin Davis - blogger with the website bullcityrising.com - was able to access much of that blacked out information and post it online.

He says he found the officer who would eventually be accused of abusing her overtime pay also benefited from a culture of favoritism that was rampant in the moonlighting program.

"It's important for the city administration to dig deep on this and get to the bottom of where the leadership challenges exist and if there are changes that need to be made, to make those changes," he said.

Deputy Chief BJ Council is now on leave until her retirement.

Just last week, the I-Team was outside as Durham leaders met in a closed session for a personnel matter.

Eyewitness News learned that meeting was related to the police department and its recent overtime scandal.

A committee comprised of police department personnel is reviewing the department's off duty work program and will make recommendations to the City Manager in a few weeks.

City Manager Tom Bonfield has told ABC11 more changes to the police department and its policies may be in the pipeline.

He's waiting to discuss it further with the chief when he returns from vacation.

Davis said he believes the police department and the city manager have made great strides, but left some unanswered questions.

"As a citizen, you want to know there's a high level of confidence in your police department, they're a critically vital part of our city."

The State Attorney General's Office continues to review the overtime abuse allegations. Former Officer Alesha Robinson Taylor has told ABC11 she will fight to keep her job through the city's grievance process.

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