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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

City attorney report posted in its entirety

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What follows is the cover memo delivered by Lewisburg City Attorney Bill Haywood to the City Council with regard to his investigation into allegations about the hours worked, reported and paid for by the Police Department to Douglas Alexander while working as a city police sergeant assigned to patrol Lewisburg Middle School as the school resource officer. References are made to attachments that are not included here.

Dec. 3, 2009

MEMORANDUM

TO: Lewisburg City Council

FROM: City Attorney William M. Haywood

FACTS: I initiated an investigation into allegations involving Sgt. Douglas Alexander of the Lewisburg City Police Department as a result of a discussion brought out in the November City Council meeting. The allegations revolved around Alexander having made false submissions of hours claiming overtime and receiving unwarranted and unearned pay. I am empowered by the Lewisburg City Charter, and obligated separately from this Council by the State of Tennessee to initiate investigations where reasonable suspicion exists involving public officials, employees of the City and citizens of Lewisburg. I began this investigation under no pretenses, assumptions, or for no personal bias on my part. I interrogated more than 10 potential witnesses, including all city council members, the Mayor, Chief of Police, City Manager and Sgt. Alexander to determine the facts surrounding this situation. This investigation was over a four-week period and involved approximately 36 hours of work.

Prior to April 2008 Capt. David Ray was the payroll officer for the Lewisburg Police Department, and hours are tabulated for regular hours and overtime for a two-week pay period. There is no time clock and officers submit their regular hours and overtime hours on a summary time sheet (attached hereto as exhibit 1) and a bi-weekly time sheet (attached hereto as exhibit 2). Both reflect the same number of hours, with the bi-weekly sheet having a box for explanation for overtime hours and summary sheet breaking down hours worked each day for the two-week pay period. I have included a copy of Sgt. Alexander's summary time sheet and copies of his bi-weekly time sheets from January 8, 2009 to present and Sgt. Alexander's personal time calendar. In April, 2008 Capt. Ray took medical leave and Lt. Rebekah Mitchell was appointed as temporary payroll officer. From April of 2008 until December of 2008, no discrepancies in any officer's timesheets were found. However, when the Dec. 24, 2008 through Jan. 7, 2009 timesheets were filed with Lt. Mitchell, a discrepancy in Sgt. Alexander's sheet was noticed, wherein he claimed a full days work was done, while in fact Sgt. Alexander had taken an hour off early for a doctor's appointment. On January 8, 2009 Chief Forbis called Sgt. Alexander and Lt. Mitchell into his office to explain the discrepancy. Sgt. Alexander stated that he should have had comp time sufficient to account for his one hour off due to the fact he never takes a 30 minute lunch break and hadn't, by choice, to maintain security at the school, while other officers took as much as an hour for lunch breaks. Chief Forbis explained that the City has no comp time policy, only sick leave, and officers are paid from the time they 10-8 (radio to dispatch they are on duty) until they 10-7 (radio to dispatch they are off duty). Officers are not guaranteed a meal break and if they have calls from dispatch, they are to respond immediately, and skip or cut short their meal break. However, they are not paid comp time if they miss their meal breaks. The next pay period Sgt. Alexander began to write in his overtime to the minute in order to receive no more or less pay than he was entitled to. Chief Forbis, however, noticed a discrepancy with times Alexander filed and the actual time he checked 10-8 when they park their patrol cars at the end of their shift and got in their personal vehicles to go home. Sgt. Alexander admitted at times he would forget to 10-8 and do it on the way home, but it was not intentional. Chief Forbis stated that he made a phone call to Sgt. Alexander and told him these discrepancies were unacceptable and the time was amended to reflect the proper shift times. Sgt. Alexander stated that he did not receive this call. These discrepancies continued, with Sgt. Alexander checking 10-8 approximately 30 minutes after he parked his patrol car for the 1/22/09 and 2/5/09 pay periods, although no further action was taken by Chief Forbis.

On 2/16/09 Lt. Mitchell went out for 6 weeks on maternity leave, and with Capt. Ray still on medical leave, Chief Forbis assumed the duties of payroll officer.

On the 2/19/09, 3/5/09, 3/19/09, 4/2/09 and 4/16/09 bi-weekly pay periods Sgt. Alexander continued to check 10-8 until approximately 30 minutes late on most days. Lt. Mitchell reported back to duty on April 4, 2009 and resumed the payroll duties. Subsequently, Chief Forbis prepared memos to Sgt. Alexander (attached as exhibit 4) and City Manager Eddie Fuller (attached as exhibit 5), outlining the General Order violations, with possible consequences to Sgt. Alexander in Mr. Fuller's memo, and recounting the chronological order of meetings, viewing Sgt. Alexander parking his patrol car and checking 10-8 later, and reiterating the city comp time and meal time policies in Sgt. Alexander's memo.

On 5/4/09 Sgt. Alexander was called into a meeting with Forbis, and Fuller. Prior to the meeting Sgt. Alexander phones Councilman Odie Whitehead to accompany him to the meeting, since he was also a member of the Police Board. During the meeting Councilman Whitehead was brought up to date on the occurrences involving Alexander. Sgt. Alexander's explanation was that it was honest mistakes and he only filed his hours as he had always done. Chief Forbis recounts that Mr. Fuller made a decision to let the situation go and not pay the unwarranted funds back to the City. Mr. Fuller stated that Sgt. Alexander did offer to pay back the funds, but that he decided not to as it was not a significant amount and he felt that Sgt. Alexander did file these extra hours innocently. The total amount of unwarranted pay is between $800 and $1000.

From the subsequent pay period (5/14/09) until 10/1/09 (when my investigation concluded) Sgt. Alexander made no more mistakes in filing his regular and overtime hours on his time sheets.

ISSUE: What is the Council's desire in handing this matter?

POSSIBLE ACTION:

1. Drop the matter and the Council take no further action.

2. Dismiss Sgt. Alexander and request reimbursement of $900 to the City for overpayment by mistake.

3. Retain Sgt. Alexander and request reimbursement of $900 to the City for overpayment by mistake.

4. Pursue criminal prosecution for felony theft.

5. Any other suggestion the council may decree.

All possibilities are within the Council's powers of decision-making and will be defended or pursued by the city attorney. However, I will refrain from giving my opinion and allow the council to discipline or renounce any wrong doing, as it deems appropriate.

Sincerely,

William M. Haywood

City Attorney