The head of the city’s police union appears to have spent just four days in uniform last year, taking off 225 days to file grievances, argue over disciplinary measures and negotiate a new contract for his officers.
The number of days off surprised even Police Benevolent Association President Robert Hamilton, who said he believed he’d worked as a department lieutenant for about 12 days last year.
“It’s probably around 12, but what’s the difference?” he said. “It’s not a big difference, but I know offhand four is not correct.”
He drew a full year’s pay from the city despite working for the union all year. He also cashed in on accrued overtime from previous years, bringing his $65,000 base salary to $91,600.
City workers are paid for 260 days of work each year, but police can take an unlimited number of days off for union business. Hamilton took 225 union days last year, according to city records. He also gets 28 vacation days and three personal days, and took no sick days, leaving him with four regular working days.
The attendance figures were provided to The Daily Gazette in response to a Freedom of Information request.
Hamilton acknowledged that the public might view his union days as excessive, but said residents don’t understand how much work he does as union president.
“I don’t get days off, that’s what nobody gets,” he said. “I work 365 days a year. It never stops. 2007 was busier than any year yet.”
Hamilton does not hold the record for the most union days taken in one year by one officer. That record appears to be held by former Police Benevolent Association President Anthony Brown, who claimed 245 days for union business in 2003. He not only took off every day that he was scheduled to work, but also said he had to complete union business on at least 10 vacation days.
In 2004, Brown reported for police duty far more often, taking just 75 days for union business. At the end of that year, Hamilton took over as president.
Hamilton started by taking off 190 days for union business, working as a police officer for 39 days in 2005. Last year, he reported for duty on just 10 occasions.
The department had about 17 vacancies during the year, and Mayor Brian U. Stratton has criticized Hamilton for taking so much time off when the department is understaffed. All but one of those vacancies have now been filled.
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