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OIG Annual Report 2019: Division of State Police Oversight

Part VI of the Office of the Inspector General's 2019 Annual Report.

Download the PDF version of the full OIG 2019 annual report.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts flag by Matt Naughton

Overview

The Division of State Police Oversight:

In July 2018, the legislature created the Division of State Police Oversight1 (“Division”) through the passage of Section 72 of Chapter 22C of the Massachusetts 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’s scope encompasses, but is not limited to:

1) Monitors the quality, efficiency and integrity of the MSP's operations, organizational structure and management functions.
2) Seeks to prevent, detect and correct fraud, waste and abuse in the expenditure of public funds.
3) Monitors 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.

I. Audits, Investigations and Reviews

A. Paid Details and Travel Time

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 use vacation leave or personal leave when they work a paid detail that overlaps with a regular work shift. The trooper must use vacation or personal leave both for the overlap in the regular work shift and for the travel time to or from the paid detail.

As part of its review, the Division examined troopers’ use of travel time to and from paid details at Logan International Airport. This examination revealed that the vast majority of troopers who worked paid details at the airport did not use vacation or personal leave time to account for their travel time.

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 and from a detail.

B. Paid Detail Offices

The Division also reviewed the role of paid detail officers and other troopers who work in the Paid Detail Office (“PDO”) of each troop within the Division of Field Services.4 Specifically, the Division reviewed their role in the assignment and administration of paid details.

This review revealed that, by and large, each PDO 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.5

The Division recommended centralizing the PDOs of the troops, with the exception of Troop F, into one administrative PDO at MSP’s headquarters.

Centralization would:

  • Save money
  • More efficiently allocate MSP resources
  • Provide a more effective platform to administer paid details throughout the department

Furthermore, while troopers who work in the PDOs provide an important service to the MSP, 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, using civilians for a substantial portion of the PDOs so sworn officers can work in the field and perform other appropriate law enforcement functions.

C. Overtime Shifts

After the discovery of overtime abuse in Troop E6 and pursuant to its specific statutory mandate to examine and evaluate overtime at the MSP, the Division has initiated a review of overtime shifts in other troops in the Division of Field Services. The overtime abuse 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 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

II. The MSP’s Efforts to Achieve Certification and Accreditation

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 Massachusetts General Laws.

Since the MSP hired an accreditation manager and submitted 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 MSP employees, both sworn officers and civilians, with improved policies that reflect and codify current operations
  • Address facility improvements and the integration of safety practices that will better protect troopers in the field and 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 ultimately accreditation will continue for the foreseeable future.

III. The MSP’s Efforts to Modernize and Centralize

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 a new electronic system, known as Orion, which will replace the current PayStation platform.

In 2019, the Division began an ongoing collaboration with the MSP to monitor the rollout of Orion during its trial period in order to mitigate risks of fraud, waste and abuse of public funds throughout the system.

 

Additional Resources

FOOTNOTES

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

3) The MSP’s 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 at major sporting and civic events. As such, troopers may work paid details. All paid details are voluntary assignments.

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

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

6) Troop E of the MSP was responsible for policing the Massachusetts Turnpike. It was disbanded in 2018.

Image credits:  Matt Naughton
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