Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

January 28, 2012

KRS broken by GPD?

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — In claiming overtime to work at Irving Materials Inc. during a labor dispute with Teamsters, Glasgow police chief Guy Turcotte violated a Kentucky Revised Statute, according to local attorneys, police organizations and the Attorney General’s Office.

Turcotte volunteered to do the scheduling when Frederick Asset Protection (FAP), subcontracted by IMI, called for police presence when picketers turned up in September at the company plant on Reynolds Road.

“They were there just in case any fights broke out,” FAP owner Brian Frederick said in a previous Daily Times story.

Turcotte specified 47 hours of overtime on his time sheet as “IMI detail,” partly paid at the city rate of time-and-a-half for overtime, partly paid privately through FAP, according to Frederick.

The job paid a flat rate of $30 per hour for off-duty work from FAP. According to invoices dated Sept. 30 and Oct. 31 provided to the Daily Times by the city, police officers including the chief were paid a total of $11,800 in wages, retirement, Federal Insurance Contributions Act, Medicare, worker’s compensation and vehicle and gas compensation.

But a Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS 61.310 subsection 4) states the work paid for by Frederick was a violation punishable by removal from office.

The statute states that a peace officer “may not participate directly or indirectly, in any labor dispute during his off-duty hours. Any peace officer who violates this subsection may be removed from office...”

Another subsection of the KRS notes that a “principal peace officer” can not “appoint or continue the appointment” of any officer in violation of the KRS. Several other officers, including administrators, reported the IMI detail on their time sheets.

In an e-mail to Commonwealth’s Attorney Karen Davis, Assistant Attorney General Thom A. Marshall said a case will “turn on its own facts,” but “it would seem that if the chief is employed as a guard by an employer involved in a ‘labor dispute’ he, the chief, could, arguably, be acting in violation of [the KRS].”

Shelley Catharine Johnson, deputy communications director at the Attorney General’s office, said in an e-mail there is also a two-year “look back” that prevents a person from being hired as an officer in the commonwealth if he receives “compensation from a private party for participating as a guard, detective, etc., in a labor dispute.”

A representative from the Fraternal Order of Police spoke in general terms that the situation with IMI and receiving payment privately is considered a violation by them.

“We would not want our officers to be involved in a labor dispute in any way,” said Shawn Helbig, FOP public information officer. “Police officers cannot be bought.”

According to the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police, there has not been an example of police officers working for a company during a labor dispute in years.

“Most [chiefs] know that the law is there,” said Michael Bischoff, executive director of the KACP and a retired chief from the Fort Thomas Police Department.

Laura Ross, legal counsel for the Kentucky League of Cities said there has not been a chief removed or disciplined under the law in at least the last three years, but she had no knowledge of previous examples.

Turcotte and Mayor Rhonda Trautman did not respond to repeated phone calls and were not available at their offices when the Daily Times attempted to contact them.

City Attorney Ben Rogers said because a member of the union present during the September protest said the local IMI plant was not “technically on strike, but they are being affected by our strike,” he did not agree that Turcotte had violated the statute.

He denied a previous conversation with the Daily Times in which he said he had alerted the city about the KRS when the protest was going on. He had no further comment on the topic, but said that he “would not want to say anything that would interfere” with the commonwealth attorney and the attorney general’s opinion.

“Guy Turcotte is the first ‘working chief’ we’ve had and it is disingenuous of other chiefs to say otherwise. He comes out from behind his desk and is out on the streets every day,” Rogers said, in reference to a Jan. 21 story in which past police chiefs explained their overtime policies as chiefs.