9-Year-Old Boy Dies After Being Shot in Head in Croixville Housing Community; Police Detain 15-Year-Old

Concerned Residents Clean Christiansted Town Using Their Own Tools, Money, and Some Help from the VI Fire Service

Territory May See Veterans Cemetery Through DeGazon-Sponsored Bill

Credit and Debit Cards of WAPA Customers Were Compromised Since August 30th, WAPA Says, Authority to Finally Start Issuing Notification Via Mail and Email

Sports Tourism in VI Gains Momentum as DC United Team is set to Play Exhibition Soccer Game on St. Croix

Carnival Breeze Brings 3,700 Tourists to St. Croix During Maiden Call; Senators, Tourism Officials Want to See More

Limetree Bay Willing To Provide $10 Million To Help Add Life to a Dying G.E.R.S.

American Airlines to Serve St. Croix With New Flights Next Summer

The Sudden Death of Influential Roots Reggae Visionary, Vaughn Benjamin of Midnite Band and Akae Beka, Has Rocked the Virgin Islands and Reggae Community Around the World

Arthur A. Richards K-8 School Hosts Anti-Bullying Campaign

Come Out. Hang Out. Have Fun at The Meat Up, One of St. Thomas’ Latest Hot-Spot for Good Food with Friends and Family.

UVI Board of Trustees Approves $47.1 Million Fiscal Year 2020 Budget; Sets $3 Million Fundraising Goal

Man Dies During Early Morning Car Accident on St. Croix; Driver of Car Arrested (Updated)

'You Did Everything You Could to Prevent this from Happening': An Emotional Goodbye to Young Aaron Benjamin

Back in Business: Cost U Less on St. Thomas Opened its Doors Friday to Thousands of Customers 2 Years after Irma and Maria

Bill Aimed at Regulating Credit Use by Gov't Departments and Agencies Among Others Held in Committee

Juan Luis Hospital Announces Completion and Availability of Mobile Dialysis Facilities

Tractor Trailer With Tank Carrying Thousands Of Gallons of Liquified Gas Flips Near Cool Out Bar; Driver Injured But Alive

Credit and Debit Card Hack Through WAPA Appears to be Widespread in Virgin Islands; WAPA Says Support Services Will be Made Available to Affected Customers

Facing Life in Prison Without Parole, Mother and Boyfriend Plead Not Guilty in Murder of 4-Year-Old Boy

V.I.P.D. Overtime Costs Topped $30 Million In 2018. Bryan Administration Wants To Stop The Excessive Spending.

Breaking News / Business / Featured / News / Top Stories / Virgin Islands / April 25, 2019

The Bryan administration is looking into ways of curbing excessive overtime spending by government departments and agencies, chief among them the Virgin Islands Police Department.

That’s according to Office of Management and Budget Director Nominee Jenifer C. O’Neal, speaking to senators during a Rules and Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, where her nomination was forwarded favorably to the full Senate.

The government’s recently launched transparency website revealed that many police officers, because of overtime, made on average between $150,000 to $250,000 — a gargantuan increase over their base salaries — in 2018. Police officer salaries start at roughly $44,000, with others earning $65,000 and most not more than $100,000. See the 2018 salaries here.

“I will say senator, the overtime as we know it is a major, major problem. The biggest culprit as we all know is V.I.P.D. I have no qualms in saying that the biggest culprit is V.I.P.D.,” Ms. O’Neal told lawmakers.

She said O.M.B. has had conversations with Acting V.I.P.D. Commissioner Jason Marsh about the problem. Ms. O’Neal also said an effort is afoot to lower shift work from 12 to 10 hours, along with getting an additional 50 officers in the police force.

Senator Donna Frett-Gregory, along with the other senators at Wednesday’s hearing, expressed concern with the excessive V.I.P.D. overtime. “This is a serious matter. We know about our economic situation here in the territory,” Mrs. Frett-Gregory said.

To solve the problem, Ms. O’Neal made known that the administration is looking into putting in place mechanisms that would trigger the government’s ERP system, which, among other functions, manages payroll. The trigger, she explained, would essentially stop payment when red flags are detected.

“Currently the process is payroll is processed regardless. However, that is being changed. We’re working with the ERP to put the same trigger that is there for all the other categories, to put that on personnel,” Ms. O’Neal explained.

She acknowledged that such a move would be controversial, but nonetheless necessary: “Now, we will have people who will say we didn’t get paid. But it will stop them the first time it happens [and] they will know you can’t continue. So that’s how we’re going to start the process of controlling it.”

Mrs. Frett-Gregory, recognizing the potential dangers of such an approach, discouraged it. “You see what that can create, right? I don’t think that’s the right approach,” she said. “I’m on the other side of the table and my concern here is you cannot ask officers, employees to work overtime because the government needs them, and then we don’t pay them. And in the case of the Virgin Islands Police Department, I am certain that [overtime] is caused for several reasons, but I’m also aware that we are very short staffed. So please be mindful of that, because we don’t need any unnecessary riots here in the Virgin Islands, or union issues because of those types of decisions.”

Ms. O’Neal said officers would get their overtime pay with the new setup, but the process would become more thorough.

“Putting that trigger on is the first step. We will have those conversations with those departments that are traditionally overspending on overtime, but we’re not saying that the employees will not get paid; they will get paid, it just won’t be as easy for them to get paid as it is now,” she said.

Senator Kenneth Gittens did not mince words on what he described as brazen abuse. “Fifty additional officers would not stop the waste, fraud and abuse that I’m seeing. It’s a matter of management. I have repeatedly stated I do not see a money problem in the Virgin Islands, our major problem is the management of these funds,” the lawmaker said. “And until we get people to start doing what they’re supposed to do, we’re going to have a problem.” Ms. O’Neal agreed with the senator.

And Mr. Gittens, a former law enforcement officer himself, said that even with the more than $30 million in overtime the V.I.P.D. expended last year, he had not seen positive results of such spending: “What irate me a bit more is I don’t see the productivity of it all. If somebody wants to sit in this community and play dumb, death and blind, that’s on them, but I don’t see the productivity.”

Tags: ,

Ernice Gilbert
I wear many hats, I suppose, but the one which fits me best would be journalism, second to that would be radio personality, thirdly singer/songwriter and down the line. I've been the Editor-In-Chief at my videogames website, Gamesthirst, for over 5 years, writing over 7,000 articles and more than 2 million words. I'm also very passionate about where I live, the United States Virgin Islands, and I'm intent on making it a better place by being resourceful and keeping our leaders honest. VI Consortium was birthed out of said desire, hopefully my efforts bear fruit. Reach me at [email protected].

Previous Post

Judges Brady, Mackay Advance At Reappointment Hearing; Brady Comes Under Fire For Handling Of Union Case, Long Court Docket

Next Post

CFVI Awards $190,000 Grant To Juan Luis Hospital For Life-Saving Equipment At Neonatal Unit

You might also like

Leave a Reply

More Story

Judges Brady, Mackay Advance At Reappointment Hearing; Brady Comes Under Fire For Handling Of Union Case, Long Court Docket

Governor Albert Bryan's reappointment of Judges Kathleen Mackay and Douglas Brady to continue their service in the territory's...

April 25, 2019