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Division of State Police Oversight 2019 Annual Report: Executive Summary

In 2019, the Division of State Police Oversight undertook a variety of reviews and investigations to fulfill its statutory mandate to monitor the quality, efficiency and integrity of the operations of the Massachusetts State Police.

Table of Contents

Highlights

In July 2018, the Legislature created the Division of State Police Oversight1 (“Division”) through the passage of Section 72 of Chapter 22C of the General Laws.2 The Legislature established the Division as an independent unit responsible for monitoring the quality, efficiency and integrity of the Massachusetts State Police (“MSP”). The Division operates as a part of the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General (“Office”), an independent agency with a broad legislative mandate to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse of public funds at all levels of government. The Division’s scope encompasses, but is not limited to: 

  1. monitoring the quality, efficiency and integrity of the MSP’s operations, organizational structure and management functions;
  2. seeking to prevent, detect and correct fraud, waste and abuse in the expenditure of public funds; and
  3. monitoring policy changes instituted as a result of the MSP’s certification or accreditation by a state or national police accrediting agency pursuant to Section 73 of Chapter 22C of the General Laws.

During its first full year of operation, the Division conducted several reviews of the MSP’s overtime and paid detail policies, procedures and operations.3

First, the Division conducted a comprehensive review of the MSP’s paid detail policy with particular focus on the “travel time” section of the policy. The travel time section requires all troopers to utilize vacation leave or personal leave when they work a paid detail anywhere in the Commonwealth that overlaps with a regular work shift. The trooper must utilize accrued vacation or personal leave for both the overlap in the regular work shift, as well as the travel time to or from the paid detail.

This review revealed that the vast majority of troopers who work paid details at Logan International Airport (“Airport”) did not utilize accrued vacation or personal leave time to account for their travel time to or from the Airport.

Since the Division concluded its review, the MSP has implemented changes to the travel time section of the paid detail policy in order to ensure that troopers are properly accounting for travel time to or from a detail at the Airport.

The Division also conducted a review of the role of the Paid Detail Officer and other troopers who work in the Paid Detail Office (“PDO”) of each troop within the Division of Field Services (“DFS”). Specifically, the Division reviewed their role in the assignment and administration of paid details. This review revealed that, by and large, each PDO in each troop performs similar functions and follows the same processes in administering paid details within its respective troop’s jurisdictional boundaries. The one notable exception is Troop F, which has unique operational and security responsibilities.4

The Division recommended centralizing the multiple PDOs of the troops, with the exception of Troop F, to one administrative PDO at General Headquarters (“GHQ”). Centralization would constitute a more efficient allocation of MSP resources and provide a more effective platform to administer paid details throughout the department.

Furthermore, while troopers who work in the PDOs provide an essential and important service to the MSP in the administration of paid details, the vast majority of this work is administrative in nature and does not require the training and expertise of a sworn police officer. The Division, therefore, also recommended, and the MSP is considering, civilianizing a substantial portion of the operations of the PDOs in order to foster a more efficient allocation of MSP sworn officers into the field performing appropriate law enforcement functions.

After the discovery of overtime abuse in Troop E and pursuant to its statutory mandate as found in Section 72(b) of Chapter 22C of the General Laws, to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse of public funds in the form of paid details and overtime, the Division has initiated a review of similar overtime shifts in other troops in the DFS.5

The overtime fraud that occurred in Troop E, and that led to the prosecution of a number of troopers federally and at the state level, involved highway patrol overtime shifts that also are often available in other MSP troops. Preliminary findings from this review include similar deficiencies in oversight, accountability and internal controls that led to the abuses of overtime in Troop E.

Initial recommendations include closer oversight and management of all shifts by supervisors and command staff, as well as implementation of proper audit trails and internal controls to confirm time and attendance.

The MSP has already implemented a host of new policies and procedures to ensure consistent time and attendance of all troopers, such as:

  • the activation of Automatic Vehicle Locator (“AVL”) technology in all cruisers
  • stringent and frequent auditing of overtime shifts
  •  face-to-face contact with supervisors at the start and end of all shifts

The Division can also report that the MSP has made steady, consistent progress in its efforts to achieve certification and accreditation pursuant to Section 72 of Chapter 22C of the General Laws. 

Since hiring an accreditation manager and submitting an application to the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission (“MPAC”) in early 2019, the Division has routinely corresponded and met with the MSP’s accreditation manager in order to monitor progress. Achieving certification and accreditation will provide the MSP members, both sworn and civilian, with improved policies that reflect and codify current operations, facility improvements and the integration of safety practices that will better serve to protect troopers in the field and those individuals in MSP custody.

Currently, the MSP has met over 50% of the mandated standards necessary to achieve certification through MPAC.

This comprehensive and important work towards certification and ultimate accreditation will continue for the foreseeable future.

Lastly, over the past year, the MSP has begun to modernize and centralize its rostering, scheduling, and time-and-attendance platform through the implementation of the new Orion system, which will replace the current PayStation platform. The Division has begun to collaborate with the MSP and monitor the rollout of Orion during this trial period in order to mitigate any potential risk of fraud, waste and abuse of public funds throughout the system.

1 Section 72 of Chapter 22C of the General Laws refers to the Division as “an internal special audit unit.” The Inspector General renamed the Division to avoid confusion with the previously created Internal Special Audit Unit within the Department of Transportation (see M.G.L. c. 6C, § 9).

2 Section 72 of Chapter 22C of the General Laws was passed through the enactment of Section 23 of Chapter 154 of the Acts of 2018.

3 The MSP paid detail policy recognizes the need for crowd control and security as well as the importance of maintaining safe and efficient traffic flow at roadway work sites and other major sporting and civic events. As such, troopers may work paid details. All paid details are voluntary assignments.

4 Troop F of the MSP is responsible for the policing and security of all Massport properties including Logan International Airport.

5 The Division of Field Services of the MSP oversees highway safety, assists municipal law enforcement agencies by responding to public safety emergencies or incidents, and provides other patrol resources and special operations.

Date published: February 26, 2020
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