City police officer flagged for excess road details
NORTHAMPTON — A Northampton special police officer has been barred from taking outside road details for 30 days after an internal investigation found he was skirting the Police Department’s policies for assigning such work.
Northampton Police Chief Russell P. Sienkiewicz declined to name the officer involved, but said he had been contacted directly by the Williamsburg Police Department for what the chief described as a “handful” of road details in that town during the past few months.
The Northampton Police Department has an elaborate shift rotation policy for outside road details that is designed to provide the city’s police officers with the opportunity for an equitable share of road detail work, which can boost their pay by thousands of dollars annually.
“We can’t let that happen,” Sienkiewicz said about the officer’s taking assignments directly from another town. “It’s not how we run the program. It’s not making available those jobs to fellow officers.”
The Northampton Police Department has seven special officers.
Northampton Mayor David J. Narkewicz said he was aware of what he described as a “minor policy infraction” involving outside road construction details and that it was handled internally by the police chief. “It’s been resolved,” the mayor said.
Sienkiewicz and Narkewicz responded when contacted by the Gazette on Tuesday.
Sienkiewicz said the Police Department’s supervisors learned of the special officer’s road details in Williamsburg by word of mouth and began an inquiry earlier this month. He said the situation was isolated to a single officer, whose pay was still being processed through the Northampton Police Department for the road detail work, despite not following the department’s scheduling policies.
“He went and directly worked for them, and he can’t do that,” Sienkiewicz said. “There was never any questions of financial fraud.”
Asked if Williamsburg was aware that it needed to contact the Northampton Police Department directly when requesting officers for road details, Sienkiewicz said, “They know now.” He added about the communication gap, “They (Williamsburg) don’t call us very often.”
Williamsburg Police Chief Denise Wickland could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Sienkiewicz said the infraction was not malicious and that the policy had to be clarified for the special officer. “He was, I guess, helping out Williamsburg,” he said. “Should he have known better? Absolutely.”
Dan Crowley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.