Overtime pay allowed an East St. Louis police sergeant to earn almost $200,000 last year, and 10 other officers each earned more than $100,000 thanks to overtime.
City officials say large amounts of overtime were dished out during the tenure of a previous chief of police, but the practice has now been reined in.
City manager Daffney Moore said a new policy has been enacted to prevent future problems.
"Most of the overtime preceded me and Chief (Jerry) Simon. The first thing I did when I was hired was send out a memo regarding the overtime policy to all police officers, to let them know police were abusing overtime pay," Moore said.
Two of the officers who earned tens of thousands of dollars in overtime — Sgt. Mario Fennoy and Patrolman Danielle Moore-Hudson — have "credibility issues" with the St. Clair County State's Attorney's Office. St. Clair County prosecutors have, over the years, stated they will not prosecute cases involving certain police officers who have credibility problems.
With overtime, Fennoy was paid $199,716 in 2017. Much of Fennoy's overtime was earned while he worked as an assistant to the former chief, Michael Hubbard. Hubbard left in September and could not be reached for comment. Fennoy's base pay in 2017 was $69,381.
In her memo to all police personnel dated Sept. 22, Moore informed officers that it is against city policy for employees to abuse overtime.
"The agreement between the city of East St. Louis and the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council governs the employer/employee relationship between the city and the police department," the memo stated. "A basic work day consists of eight consecutive hours of duty. No officer shall work more than 16 consecutive hours in any given 24-hour period. There are no exceptions to this rule."
The memo went on to say that "continued violations of this policy will be subject to immediate disciplinary action up to and including termination."
Simon took over as chief in October and sent out a similar memo regarding overtime in the department. He said the staff is currently working 12-hour shifts, and when they finish or before they start their shifts, they can pick up a maximum of four hours of overtime.
"Officers are allowed to work, if available, four hours of overtime before or after the start of their shifts," Simon said.
Moore said, "We're trying to make sure everyone has the opportunity to work overtime if it's necessary."
Simon acknowledged the department will still have to pay out some overtime because manpower is short. But, he said overtime has decreased by 40 percent since he took office, even though there are three fewer officers.
"We're continuing to attempt to reduce overtime by restructuring the police department. Some people are being moved from a department, like specialized units, back into patrol," he said. "There will continue to be some overtime because the union contract requires a minimum manning per shift. We don't currently have enough men to man each shift, so there's overtime available."
He added, "We are currently working with the union in reference to a contract. The hiring of additional officers will cut the overtime pay down even more. We are currently accepting applications for certified officers now."
Moore said the city's population has dropped and the budget is stressed, and the city needs to renegotiate the contracts for police officers and firefighters. Moore said negotiations between all parties is continuing.
"We're negotiating with the police first and the firemen after that," she said. Moore would not say if the two sides are close to an agreement.
City Councilman Roy Mosley said it's ridiculous and that the police department has abused overtime. But Mosley said he agrees the department does need more manpower.
"The citizens deserve the best from all of us. They elected us to represent them and to watch out over their money. The police work for the people, and they ought to do the right thing," he said.
The East St. Louis Police Department now has 40 officers on staff with the recent hire of Officer Jason Boyd, who was already a certified police officer. Boyd was the first officer to be hired in more than five years. Moore said the city hopes to hire four or five new officers.
"It takes two to three months to get new hires through the process, so I am hoping by July we will have four or five officers hired," Moore said.
According to the city's contract with the police union, the most that a sergeant could earn, without overtime, was about $76,500 per year, as of 2015. That level of pay would be for a sergeant with 30-plus years of service.
Also according to the contract, the most that a patrolman could earn, without overtime, was about $73,600 per year, as of 2015. That level of pay would be for a patrolman with 30-plus years of service.
Simon said that since he's been chief, overtime has decreased.
"My job here is to make the department run more efficient while making the city as safe as I possibly can," Simon said. "I can't help what was allowed in the past. I can observe what the problems were and correct them."
Department members' pay in 2017 included:
- Mario Fennoy, sergeant: base $69,381; with overtime $199,716.
- Felix Arnold, officer: base $59,510.64; with overtime $103,026.
- Darlene Bonds, sergeant: base $63,837; with overtime $108,599.
- Leland Cherry Jr., patrolman: base $57,050; with overtime $97,738.
- Jay Cobb, sergeant: base $66,852; with overtime $140,932.
- Danielle Moore-Hudson, patrolman: base $65,106; with overtime $133,417.
- Luther Woods, patrolman: base salary $61,848; with overtime $133,604.
- Rukavina McIntosh, patrolman: base salary $66,732; with overtime $103,785.
- Ontourio Eiland, sergeant: base $69,382; with overtime $100,451.
- Andre Henson, patrolman: base salary $66,732; with overtime $97,050.
- John Leslie, sergeant: base $67,430; with overtime $90,484.
- Cantrell Patterson, officer: base salary $65,106; with overtime $111,750.
- Jerry C. Simon, sergeant for most of 2017, now chief: base salary $70,455; with overtime $100,123.
- Andre Williams, sergeant: base salary $67,791; with overtime $124,172.
Simon said the U.S. Marshal Service reimbursed the city for overtime for himself and Eiland, because they were working on a task force in conjunction with the Marshal Service.
Since mid-2013, there have been 18 officers who resigned, were terminated, retired or left to work at other departments. The vacancies created by those officers were never filled.