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Metra Police Officers Raking In Overtime Pay

By Chuck Sudo in News on May 20, 2013 8:20PM

Photo by tncountryfan

As much as we love to point out the foibles of CTA and its board of directors, they’re downright competent and sensible when compared to Metra and the wasteful ways the Chicago and suburban train agency spends money.

The Sun-Times has a report on the latest questionable spending at Metra. They investigated the agency’s 2012 police payroll and found an astounding number of cops employed by Metra made more money in overtime pay than their regular salaries. A total of 20 Metra police officers earned more than $100,000 in salary with their combined regular and overtime pay. Ten of them had overtime earnings exceeding their base salaries, 11 earned between 20 to 30 hours of overtime pay a week—the highest being Sgt. John K. Geraty, who logged 38 overtime hours a week on top of his standard 40 hours of regular pay.

Nice work if you can get it, we suppose.

The Sun-Times notes Metra’s overtime budget has skyrocketed by 45 percent since 2009 and reached $2.8 million last year. (Geraty’s 2012 salary alone was $154,446.) That’s not even counting the $200,000 Metra paid Hillard Heintze LLC to analyze their police department’s “operations and capabilities.” (Hillard Heintze, which was co-founded by former Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard, was paid nearly $900,000 in 2011 to investigate fraud and waste at Metra in the wake of the 2010 suicide of chairman Phil Pagano and to act as its inspector general until the agency fell under the purview of Office of Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor.

Metra told the Sun-Times the overtime pay was justified because of high-profile events like last year’s NATO Summit, Lollapalooza and the PGA Championships at Medinah Country Club. Spokesman Michael Gillis said the federal government reimbursed Metra for special events and that the police department’s “regular overtime” hours have held steady the past three years.

Metra police officers may work up to 16 hours at a time, then take eight hours off. But Maria “Maki” Haberfeld, a professor of police science and department chair at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, told the Sun-Times that’s ridiculous and questioned the need for officers such as Geraty to log 70-hour weeks.

“It’s dysfunctional for both the officers and the public. You cannot achieve more effective policing with overworked police officers.”