Patrolmen’s Association President Stephen Iannalfo did not have the chief’s blessing when he decided to fight for $114 an hour for patrolmen who worked overtime doing private details during the Patriot’s Day storm.

“I told them (Iannalfo and department patrolmen) they were being greedy and that they would be shooting themselves in the foot if they fought for that much money,” said police Chief Alan DeNaro, adding that some hours worked by officers during that storm were not at the request of the companies.

Private companies generally call and hire officers to be on duty when they have workers in the streets. But during the Patriot’s Day storm, the Haverhill Police Department did not wait for calls.

“The men were not even authorized by the electric company. We assumed there would be a need,” said DeNaro.

“On that day the lines went down and we needed to put officers out there. Four hours into it, we knew the detail was going to run another eight hours. We hired another crew for the second eight-hour shift, but we were told, ‘That’s our detail. We own it,’” said DeNaro, who did not agree and paid them double, not triple, pay.

Officers get paid $38 an hour for details and when they get called in, it’s for a four-hour minimum, meaning they get paid for four hours even if the job only lasts one or two. They get double time for anything over eight hours, which is $76 an hour. But if the overtime is on a holiday, it’s triple time for overtime, or $114 an hour.

DeNaro said he tries to be fair to the companies hiring officers. If the detail goes into overtime, he has the right, as manager of the department, to pull the officer off and put another on. That way the utility companies or road contractors don’t get hit too hard in the pocketbook, and the money gets spread around to police officers within the department.

“They got two shifts and got double time. They should be happy. As the chief I have the right to decide what details are covered and who works those details. It’s a management right. They don’t agree,” said DeNaro, who said the matter now goes to hearings in front of someone appointed by the mayor. He said that person will likely be City Solicitor Bill Cox, who will render a decision to the mayor. The mayor then has the right to accept or modify that decision.

If patrolmen still are not happy they can ask for an arbitrator, who will listen to the case and render a decision within 90 days.

It is in the Haverhill police contract that if a private detail is worked, the city pays them the following pay period, and the city waits to get reimbursed from the company. That system works fine as long as the city receives payment, but it is currently $300,000 to $400,000 in arrears from companies, and $30,000 to $40,000 is long past due.

Some communities surrounding Haverhill do not pay officers for details until the city or town gets paid by the contractor who hired them. DeNaro said it may be time for the city to renegotiate how officers get paid so the cost does not impact the Police Department budget.

One option is to pay officers, but take the wages back if the company does not reimburse within a specified amount of time.

Another option is to not pay until the money comes in. “In Haverhill, the city has acted as a bank,” said DeNaro, “But that’s something that will have to be negotiated by the mayor.”

Jean MacDougall-Tattan is editor of The Haverhill Gazette.

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