Police comp time still piling up

George Town Police Station

Royal Cayman Islands Police officers took a total of more than 24,000 hours of owed time off during the seven months between June 2017 and January 2018, according to records obtained by the Cayman Compass.

However, as of January, the department still owed its police officers more than 41,000 hours in compensation time for holiday time and extra work shifts. Based on a nine-hour average work day, that is more than 4,500 work days left to be taken in total.

The police service has been trying to reduce the number of compensatory hours being accumulated by officers since late 2016, when it was reported that 56 RCIPS officers amassed more than 51,000 hours in added time they had worked, but for which they did not receive extra pay.

The compensatory time was valued at nearly $1.2 million. Portfolio of the Civil Service Chief Officer Gloria McField-Nixon told the Legislative Assembly last summer that some officers with large amounts of owed time had been offered a buyout equaling 50 percent of the value of their comp time, but she said many officers had refused that.

Since then, dozens of RCIPS officers were forced to take a certain amount of the compensatory time off, leaving some police shifts short-staffed.

However, even with the additional forced off hours taken, the owed time has only been reduced by a total of 10,000 hours, because police officers continue to accumulate compensatory time off, according to RCIPS Chief Inspector Raymond Christian, who responded to a Cayman Compass open records request on the issue.

Mr. Christian said shift-based officers, including most patrol constables and duty sergeants – the bulk of the RCIPS force – accumulate comp time during the holidays as well, if they are required to work, in lieu of being paid double time.

In the seven month period reviewed by the Cayman Compass, June 1, 2017 to Jan. 8, 2018, Mr. Christian estimated it was possible more than 13,000 hours could have been accumulated by officers during the six holidays occurring over that time.

“Hypothetically speaking, if there were 250 shift-based officers, the total amount of compensatory hours accrued would be … 13,500 compensatory hours,” the chief inspector said.

The total amount of owed time, 41,060.75 hours as of Jan. 8, also includes hours worked in excess of officers’ normal working hours.

Since the start of the year, Mr. Christian said the RCIPS senior command staff is monitoring officers’ extra time worked on a monthly basis, requiring them to take additional time off if any particular officer’s comp time total gets too high. The force’s policy typically would not allow an officer to accumulate more than 75 hours in paid time off.

When the issue was reviewed in late 2016, there were some officers who had accumulated more than 1,000 comp time hours.

Ms. McField-Nixon told Legislative Assembly members last summer that the accrued leave hours were becoming a financial liability for the RCIPS and that there was apparently no provision in the department’s budget to pay officers overtime.

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