An investigative report revealed that one Seattle police officer was the city's highest-paid employee one year, and now he's being disciplined for it.
A review by Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA) found that Officer Don Willis worked over 90 hours a week on 15 separate occasions in 2019, according to The Seattle Times. In response to the review, Willis was suspended for one day without pay for working more than the maximum hours allowed by SPD rules, journalists said.
"Willis made $414,543.06 in 2019, based on 4,149 hours of work — an average of more than 11 hours a day for the entire year — including several occasions where he was compensated for more than 24 hours in a day," the newspaper reported. "The department couldn’t effectively track overtime as it is still kept on paper forms."
The report also highlighted the longstanding issue of the police department's struggles to keep up with employee timekeeping and overtime controls.
The police department said they've been working on an automated timekeeping system while the incident was happening. The program, which has reportedly been in the works for four years, “is still a work in progress with no set timetable for its implementation," SPD spokesperson Randall Huserik said.
He added that there's no criminal investigation into the time theft "as all of the time he was paid has been accounted for."
In an interview with OPA, Willis didn't dispute working over 90 hours a week, but he denied being paid for the time he didn't work.
"The officer told OPA that he felt his hours were all allowable under the 'public safety' exemption that allows SPD officers to work beyond the maximum, but acknowledged he didn’t seek the required waiver," according to the Times.
City payroll records show that Willis was compensated for working 3,039 hours in 2020, over 1,000 hours fewer than the year before. This put his gross pay at $268,410 -- roughly equal parts regular and overtime wages, reporters said.