On January 30th, 2011, Newsday published the Nassau County Police Department salaries and overtime pay for the year ending 2010. Newsday Article 

Many officers earned substantial overtime pay as a direct result of arresting individuals suspected of DWI (Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired).
One officer whose base pay is $106,698.00 earned overtime pay in the amount of $111,508.00. The officer actually earned more money in overtime than he did in regular time, and in total earned $218,206.00 for the year.
Another officer earned $102,970.00 in overtime in addition to his base pay of $106,698.00, for a total yearly income of $209,668.00. 

These massive overtime figures lead one to consider the following questions:

  • Are motorists actually committing the underlying offenses which justify a stop of their motor vehicle in the first instance, or are officers stopping random vehicles on late night shifts trying to score extra overtime? 
Imagine the following scenario:  A motorist is driving late at night without committing any visible vehicle and traffic law violations. An officer looking to increase his or her salary by earning overtime pay stops the vehicle and asks the motorist where he is coming from and if he has been drinking. If the motorist displays no signs of alcohol consumption, the officer indicates that he or she is going to let the motorist off with a warning to slow down, or to make sure he signals. The motorist is happy that he did not get a ticket and goes home on his merry way, unaware that his rights were just violated by being stopped without cause. On the other hand, if the motorist had displayed signs of alcohol consumption he would have been detained and then arrested. The point is that an officer merely has to say that the reason for the initial stop was speeding, running a stop light or stop sign, or any other vehicle and traffic law violation and the stop is then justified, regardless of whether the motorist actually committed the traffic violation.  
  • Why is the police department scheduling shifts that result in massive overtime pay?
If the vast majority of DWI stops occur in the late evening into early morning hours, why not schedule an officer’s tour of duty so that an early morning arrest will not more likely than not result in overtime? If an officer starts his or her shift at midnight, an arrest made during the shift would be processed before noon which would eliminate the need for overtime for the officer to complete arrest paperwork. Obviously, a situation may still arise where an officer earns overtime because of the time of the arrest, but the current tours that are in place almost guarantee that overtime will be paid on every late night/early morning arrest made by an officer.
Only time will tell how the county will solve this massive overtime crisis but one thing is for certain, the current situation needs to be changed as it is ripe for abuse. The taxpayers of Nassau County cannot be expected to continue to foot the bill for officers’ exorbitant and unnecessary overtime pay. 
At the Law Office of David Galison, P.C., all clients are presumed innocent. The massive overtime pay that some officers make is troubling and the recent article that appeared in Newsday should open people’s eyes to the financial incentive behind initiating unjustified traffic stops and the resultant bad arrests.