Four captains headquartered in the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office have collectively earned tens of thousands of dollars annually in overtime pay since Sheriff T.J. McDermott was sworn in in 2015.
One captain earned $66,000 in overtime since January 2015, when McDermott took over as sheriff.
In 2014, the last year under former Sheriff Carl Ibsen, his three captains earned combined overtime pay of approximately $33,000, with roughly half of that paid to then-captain Mike Dominick, then the head of detectives.
The next year, under McDermott, overtime compensation for captains more than doubled, according to records obtained by the Missoulian.
In the note sent to the Missoulian with the results of its records request, Undersheriff Rich Maricelli said captains were historically able to work overtime for on-call coroner activities and special traffic law enforcement activities.
Until 2012, sheriff's office captains did not qualify for overtime under the county's policy. That year, Ibsen secured permission from the Missoula County Commissioners to pay overtime to captains and the undersheriff at their normal hourly pay rate.
Last year, McDermott expanded that exception, asking for and receiving the commissioners' consent to pay overtime to captains and the undersheriff at one-and-a-half times their normal pay rate, the same rate paid to the rank and file.
In 2016, the four sheriff’s captains earned more than $80,000 in overtime, more than the combined $75,000 in overtime compensation paid to all 19 of the detectives in the Missoula Police Department, according to the records requested by the Missoulian.
Capt. William Burt earned roughly $33,300 that year in overtime; Capt. Anthony Rio, $23,800; Capt. David Conway, $14,500; and Capt. Rob Taylor, just under $9,000.
Overtime pay for sheriff’s captains has gone down in 2017, with each of the captains earning between $3,000 and $6,700 over the first five months of the year.
Maricelli said that in 2015, "we were down 11 positions and it was out of necessity that administrators were utilized to meet the Patrol Division shift minimum.''
He also referenced a 12 percent increase over five years in the number of calls for service to the sheriff’s office, and a 25 percent increase in the number of coroner calls they have taken during that time.
Captains in the police department cannot receive overtime pay, and only receive compensatory time at a one-to-one rate for hours worked over 40 per week.
In early June, the Missoulian requested overtime pay figures for both departments, receiving the city’s data within 24 hours and the county’s at the end of June.
Wednesday afternoon, the sheriff’s office posted its figures on Facebook, saying, “Recently, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) received a media request for overtime (OT) compensation, specific to our captains, for the last several years. After compiling the numbers, we wanted to share this information with the public on our Facebook page to remain transparent with the community we proudly serve.”
In its Facebook post Wednesday, the sheriff’s office reiterated that without the time-and-a-half overtime pay, it was difficult to recruit senior officers to take captain positions.
“When Sheriff McDermott took office he recognized that not only were captains working well beyond a 40-hour work week, but they also were not being adequately compensated for their efforts and for the advanced skill set required to perform their required duties,” the post said.
McDermott did not respond to multiple interview requests made through public information officer Brenda Bassett.
The sheriff's office wants "transparency just as much as anyone else and the opportunity to be sure all the facts are included,” Bassett said after receiving another request to interview the sheriff about the issue.
Bassett told the Missoulian she believed this story would be “based on a biased set of facts that will be unfair to the readers in terms of completeness of information they are receiving.”
All information and figures used in this story came from data provided by the sheriff’s office, the police department, and the agendas and meeting minutes of the Missoula County Commissioners.
According to the data from the sheriff’s office, from the start of January 2015 until the beginning of June of this year, Burt, who heads the sheriff’s office’s patrol division, claimed more than 1,195 hours of overtime pay and was paid $66,150 in overtime on top of his normal pay during that time.
In the 2016 fiscal year alone, Burt claimed 597 hours of overtime — the equivalent of nearly four months of 40-hour work weeks — and was paid more than $33,300 in overtime.
According to county human resources director Patricia Baumgart, Burt had a pay rate of just over $35.25 per hour that year, for an annual salary of more than $73,000 — before overtime.
Rio, who has had the rank of captain since McDermott took office and now serves as the captain of professional standards, has been paid $48,035 in overtime since 2015.
Conway, who became a captain in late 2015 and now heads the detective division, was paid nearly $20,000 in overtime between then and the start of June when the Missoulian made its records request.
Taylor was paid $7,320 in overtime as a captain under Ibsen in 2014. He remained a captain under McDermott until December 2015, when he briefly left the agency. He returned to a captain position in October 2016. In all of his time as a captain under McDermott, he's earned $45,515 in overtime.
In addition to their primary captain duties, Taylor, Burt, and Conway are also coroners who can be called out for death investigations. Taylor and Conway take part in certain training programs in the community, including one dealing with armed intruder response. Taylor heads the department’s special response team, colloquially referred to as SWAT, and Conway is the leader for its negotiation team.
Burt and Rio have oversight roles with the reserve deputies and take part in special traffic law enforcement events. Rio is also responsible for oversight of the department’s evidence records and evidence warehouse, as well as ensuring officer training and qualifications.
The overtime figures provided by the sheriff’s office and the police department included local tax dollars and "offsetting revenue'' dollars that come from private organizations, the state or the federal government.
That offset funding includes money from private organizations such as the Osprey, which hires law enforcement for security for its games, and money from federal, state or other grants that pay for officers to perform services such as increased DUI patrols or to work with special task forces.
The sheriff’s office said in a note sent along with the overtime compensation figures that approximately 35 percent to 40 percent of its office’s overtime pay is reimbursed by another source. The Missoulian asked the sheriff's office to break down overtime pay to the captains by what is reimbursed, but did not receive an answer.
In an April 2016 request to commissioners to increase the captains' overtime amount to one-and-a-half times regular pay, McDermott cited recent pay increases for lower rank officers.
Those pay increases, which fall under the department's collective bargaining agreement, brought the pay rate of unionized lieutenants within a percentage point of non-union captains.
The situation created “a significant disincentive for an officer to take on an administrative role since the increase in pay is only 1% and they lose the opportunity to earn overtime pay,” the sheriff’s office said in its request.
The request did not include the fact that captains already were receiving overtime pay at that point, albeit at their standard rate of pay.
The commissioners unanimously approved allowing captains and the undersheriff to be compensated at one-and-a-half times their rate of pay for overtime hours.