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ABC-7 I-Team: Police Lieutenant’s $76,000 In Overtime Raise Questions

The ABC-7 I-team has obtained city records that show how much overtime pay the El Paso Police officers who are under investigation received in the last three fiscal years.

According to the document, 31-year veteran of the force and administrator of one of the grants in question, Lt. Alfred Lowe, made $44,875.38 in fiscal year 2009; $19,564.11 in fiscal year 2010; and $76,006.73 in fiscal year 2011. The last figure is what caught the attention of the City’s Internal Auditor, city officials said.

“For a cop, he should know better. They’re supposed to be catching people that do this, not doing this themselves,” said Elisa Carrillo, a taxpayer.

City Manager Joyce Wilson said the Internal Auditor’s office and the Police’s Internal Affairs Department are investigating overtime issues and the administration of federal grant money.

“If there’s sufficient documentation to show that he was actually working, and doing that work during that period, then there may not have been anything technically wrong, or illegal or inappropriate,” Wilson said. When asked if the $76,006.73 in overtime pay was appropriate, even if it was legal, Wilson said, “That’s why he’s on administrative leave now pending an investigation and there could be serious consequences for that.”

Wilson said she hopes the investigation will wrap up and a report will be ready in about four weeks. “They’re going back and looking at every pay record that was tied to this grant so it’s very tedious, it’s very deliberate,” she said.

The records also show the officers and detectives made anywhere from $3,052.17 to $27,215.07 a year in overtime pay.

Officer Scott McFarland made $18,028.26 in overtime pay from the STEP grant alone in fiscal year 2009. In total that year, he made $24,519.54 in overtime pay.

The next fiscal year, McFarland made $12,889.39 in overtime pay from the STEP grant. Wilson said that up to $20,000 in annual overtime pay is not uncommon, especially if the money comes from grants. That’s because grants call for special duties, such as gang control, thus more hours for police officers, Wilson said. When asked why that was more cost-effective than hiring new officers, Wilson said it’s a matter of which funds are secured and which are not.

“Those (grants) come and go so you don’t staff up with permanent staff to man those because if the funds go away then you don’t have any resources to pay them,” she said.

Carrillo said $20,000 in overtime pay doesn’t seem prudent.

“It’s not their money, it’s public money. That’s a slap in the face. They’re these outstanding figures. They’re supposed to represent the best of our society. … Other people reading about this. How are they going to think El Paso is?” she said.

Wilson said the Internal Auditor checks on the Police Department’s issuance of grant money and overtime pay on a quarterly basis. She said she really didn’t know why eyebrows were not raised in 2009 when Lowe made $44,875.38 in overtime pay.

El Paso Police and the U.S. Department of Justice are investigating the officers for claims of falsifying overtime.

Five of the former El Paso Police officers have filed an injunction against the city. Defendants named in the case include El Paso’s Police Chief Greg Allen, Wilson and Mayor John Cook. The officers accuse the city of forcing ticket quotas in order to keep grant money. The Police Department maintains they do not enforce quotas, only performance standards.

ABC-7 left messages for the officers’ attorneys. They did not return calls. A Police spokesman said he was working on finding someone to comment but was unable to do so Monday.

See All Overtime Pay Here.

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