In Massachusetts, where public employee unions own the legislature, guaranteed overtime is one of the perks of being a police officer. City police spend paid details standing around watching other people work. State Police make their money running speed traps.
Once again a system of structural overtime breeds corruption.
Troop E is the revenue collecting arm of the Massachusetts State Police. It patrols the Massachusetts Turnpike and doesn’t have to worry about real crime.
Twenty years ago it was explicitly the revenue collecting arm. Officers were ranked based on the dollar amount of the tickets they wrote. Unfavorable publicity forced management to be less overt about the revenue motive and a court decision in an unrelated case prohibited direct orders to meet ticket quotas.
There is still a ticket quota. State police started an investigation after RMV records said no speeding tickets were written during shifts when officers were paid to write speeding tickets. The expectation is officers will continue the historic rate of over 100 tickets per day. Those tickets bring over $5 million per year in revenue, a good return on investment for the $1 million per year overtime officers get.
An officer who was suspended as a result of the investigation made $300,000 in 2016 thanks to the number of shifts he took and didn’t work.
If we buy the fiction that speed traps are for safety, shouldn’t they be part of an officer’s regular duty?
There may be another term for it but I’ll call it structural overtime. I wrote about it in the context of snow removal fraud a few years back. I mean a system that can’t work with people mostly getting paid their regular pay. Snow removal is usually not part of a DPW’s job. DPW workers are paid extra or a contractor with connections is hired.
Showing up to testify in traffic court is not usually part of a police officer’s job. It’s an overtime assignment. Four hours pay for a half hour’s work. That also leads to corruption. A former magistrate in Hingham traffic court had a deal where he would arrange overtime pay for officers who brought him bail bond business. Innocent drivers had to be found guilty of speeding to make the scam work.
If you want to open a nightclub, be prepared to pay off the police department.
If you want to work in or near the road, be prepared to pay off the police department. That’s why Massachusetts rarely uses STOP/SLOW signs in work zones like the rest of America. You have to pay a police officer a minimum four hour shift to stand around and watch. In the rare cases where you are allowed to use a flagger she has to make as much as a police officer would.
And so on.
The current Turnpike revenue collection program goes by the acronym AIRE. It doesn’t matter what the letters mean. You know what they really mean. Might as well call it LERC — Laser Enhanced Revenue Collection. (Got a better one? Post it in the comments.)
Of all the traffic patrol programs I’ve heard of, only the long-gone DDD ever seemed remotely useful. DDD stood for “drugged, drunk, and dangerous.” A couple decades ago a group of police put video cameras in their cars, didn’t pay much attention to speeders, and recorded people who were driving dangerously.
If they saw somebody driving dangerously, as opposed to merely illegally, they would ask the RMV to suspend the driver’s license without a hearing.
Why not write a reckless driving ticket and let nature take its course?
Even police don’t believe traffic court is good for anything but revenue collection.
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