LMPD chief testifies some officers abused overtime money

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad testified Wednesday that there were “some abuses” by officers of $1.2 million in overtime funds the city gave police in December 2016 to boost patrols in high-crime areas.

Conrad said there is a criminal investigation ongoing into officers "that were accused of obtaining overtime they didn’t actually work.”

In November, Conrad was asked under oath about a WDRB News story that described how several officers worked up to 21-hour days, every day for weeks or months, including weekends, and racked up enormous amounts of overtime hours.

At the time, the day after the story ran, Conrad testified in a deposition that he didn’t know of any investigation into the overtime spending.

As far as he knew, the chief told attorney Thomas Clay at the time, there was no reason to believe any of the officers abused the system.

On Tuesday however, Conrad told Clay during a whistleblower lawsuit trial that there is an ongoing criminal investigation into how officers used the funds, though he said he did not have any more specifics, including even when the probe began.

Clay is representing Lt. Jimmy Harper, who claims he was demoted as retaliation for expressing concerns about the department’s management. The trial started Monday.

Conrad has acknowledged in the past that some of the funds from Metro government may not have been spent efficiently, noting his executive staff was not clear as to his direction that the overtime funding should last through the fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2017.

About half of the money had already been used by late January, when Conrad learned about the spending and slowed it down.

A WDRB News investigation found officers worked weeks or months without taking a day off -- including weekends -- logging what experts say would be either suspicious or dangerously long hours. Yet the department has no internal policies meant to force officers to rest or avoid marathon shifts.

LMPD Officer Todd Roadhouse, for example, worked more than 200 hours during the first two weeks of January, including back-to-back 17-hour days. He followed that with a 21-hour day, according to his time slips. In all, his workload during that time yielded about 120 hours of overtime.

Roadhouse’s time slips, obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act, show he worked 84 consecutive days from January 1 to March 25, logging, on average, about 12 hours a day.

The department spent nearly $800,000 of the $1.2 million in funding by the end of February.

In the first two weeks of 2017, Officer Billy Keltner worked 196 hours – 116 hours of overtime – including a 19-hour day and two 17-hour days, and didn't take any days off for the month.

In addition to the LMPD overtime, three of the five officers that made the most overtime money – Roadhouse and Officers Mark Final and Dennis Poteet – worked secondary jobs at the same time.

Final worked every day in February, including weekends, averaging about 12 hours a day, for the police department while also working a secondary job providing security at Male High School, according to records.

Pay records showed that some officers made up to five times as much in extra pay than they did in previous years. Specifically:

  • Officer Roadhouse went from making $7,800 in overtime in 2013 to $29,600 last year and more than $45,000 so far in 2017.
  • Officer Keltner jumped from making about $6,000 in overtime in both 2014 and 2015 to more than $40,000 in each of the past two years.
  • Officer Michael Pawul made less than $7,000 in overtime in 2013 and more than $50,000 so far this year.
  • And Sgt. Brian Stanfield jumped from $20,000 in overtime in 2014 to more than $48,000 in 2017.

Of the officers highlighted by WDRB News, at least three are no longer with the department. Brian Stanfield retired on Jan. 1. Unlike the others, Stanfield was already under investigation at the time, according to police records.

According to a letter initiating an investigation of Stanfield, he was accused of violating department policy by getting paid as a police officer while also working off-duty at UPS. After Stanfield retired, Conrad closed the investigation “by exception.”

According to a series of emails obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act, Roadhouse never submitted a letter of retirement. On Feb. 21, 2018 a supervisor wrote “He turned everything in today and will not be back.”

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Digital Reporter

Jason Riley is a criminal justice reporter for WDRB.com. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after 14 years with The Courier-Journal. He graduated from Western Kentucky University. Jason be reached at 502-585-0823 and jriley@wdrb.com.