GBI Investigation shows Dougherty School problems - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

GBI Investigation shows Dougherty School problems

November 25, 2005

Albany - The G.B.I. investigated eight Albany Police Officers for "double-dipping", or working a part time job while on duty.

District Attorney Ken Hodges decided not to prosecute any of the officers, saying poor payroll records could not prove a criminal case. But the GBI Investigation clearly showed a real problem with the Dougherty County School System's payroll records for paying some of those officers.

Dougherty County School officials did not see the nine volume, 500 page long GBI Investigation until WALB News bought it, and showed it to them. The GBI found the Dougherty County School System was billed for hundreds of hours of work each week by several Albany Police Officers, working part time for the School system.

The GBI found the officers time sheets were filled out on an honor system, with little or no supervision. School Board Member David Maschke said "Didn't know anything about it. Found it to be quite unsettling."

School System Attorney Tommy Coleman said "We didn't find anything that led us to believe there was massive attempts to defraud the school system."

Time sheets from 2003 and 2004 show some of the Albany Police Officers billing the School System from 70 to 105 hours every two weeks. The GBI report said their supervisor did not check those time sheets, and kept the records in the trunk of his car. Coleman said "That's not a good way for anybody to do business. It needs to be done in the office, and those records are public records and they need to be kept for public inspection."

The time sheets required the Police to put down only the number of hours they worked a day, and nothing else. Some officers reported 11 or 12 hour days. Coleman said "We need to manage our overtime more carefully for our employees. And as you pointed out need to keep better records."

While the school system paid the Albany Police more than $300,000 a year for school resource officers, these officers were working additional part time hours for the school system.

Coleman said the Cops earned only $50,000 to $60,000. Coleman said "It was a relatively small amount of money that we could have saved with better management over what we already spent."

But David Maschke said tax payers deserve better. Maschke said "Whether it's 50 dollars, or $500, or $5000, we need to do a better job because it's tax payers money."

The School System said the problems pointed out by the GBI Investigation have already been corrected by starting their own Police Force, with required better supervision and hourly record keeping.

Both Coleman and Maschke say even though there will be no criminal prosecution, their review of the Officers time sheets troubled them. Coleman said "We'd find that an officer would be twenty minutes off here and twenty minutes off there." Maschke said "There could have been problems with hours that either were not accurately documented, or where people were possibly rounding off their hours."

Maschke said there is no doubt that school system payroll procedures were not followed, leaving embarrassing questions about how your tax money was managed.

Since the GBI Investigation was begun, The Albany Police Department has required their Officers to document the hours they spend on part time jobs on their weekly time sheet.

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