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Police dominate Schenectady's top-10 earners list

Police dominate Schenectady's top-10 earners list

Overtime boosted salaries for city's top earners
Police dominate Schenectady's top-10 earners list
Sgt. Jeff McCutcheon, the city's highest earner in 2017, at a crime scene in Schenectady on Nov. 2, 2016.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

SCHENECTADY — Seven police officers made the city government's top-10 earners list in 2017, with the majority of their compensation fueled by overtime.

Sgt. Jeff McCutcheon topped the list for the third year in a row, earning a total of $186,873.81. That includes $82,417 for his base salary and $93,736.81 in overtime.

The total was slightly less than McCutcheon's 2016 earnings, which came out to $198,217.94. That year, he made $101,346.49 in overtime.

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Joining McCutcheon in the top five was city Fire Chief Raymond Senecal, who earned a total of $163,260.99, with a mere $106.46 in overtime pay. 

The estate of Wayne Bennett, who served as the city’s commissioner of Public Safety until he died from cancer in August, earned a total of $162,055.59. That includes $83,329.43 in overtime and a lump-sum payout of $61,497.35.

Police Chief Eric Clifford also made the top 10, earning $151,194 in 2017, which was less than the $183,202.45 he made in 2016. This is due to the fact he was promoted to police chief, which made him ineligible for overtime. In 2016, he earned $43,245.83 in overtime pay.

Clifford said he has been working to rein in voluntary overtime. He did this by asking lieutenants to analyze why they needed certain officers to work overtime.

“We have a little more structure in place at the discretionary level,” Clifford said.

With the new scrutiny, Clifford said his department was able to come in “just a little under” what was budgeted for overtime pay in 2017.

However, there are some factors driving overtime that remain a challenge.

For one, Clifford said the department is short-staffed, with 147 officers and 14 vacancies. The department will swear in 14 new recruits Friday, but they need to go through the police academy before joining the force.

He also said that, while there were only two homicides in the city in 2017, there was one that occurred in 2016 that carried over into 2017: the murder of 49-year-old Charles Dembrosky happened in November 2016, but the arrest of a suspect in that case didn’t occur until mid-2017.

“It [the murder investigation] accounted for most of the overtime spending,” Clifford said.

There was some overtime spending related to the new Rivers Casino & Resort, but only for the grand opening in February and for a fireworks display on the Fourth of July.

Clifford said Rivers reimbursed the department for other overtime spending related to calls at the casino.

He admitted some officers made a lot of money through overtime, but added that those who were in the top 10 worked when no one else wanted to.

“Some officers live within their means and are happy to not work overtime,” Clifford said.


Top 10 earners among city employees in 2017

Name Total Pay Amount from overtime
Sgt. Jeffrey McCutcheon $186.873.81 $93,736.81
Lt. Mark McCracken $183,137.01 $75,965.44
Officer Peter Mullen $172,713.08 $88,500
Fire Chief Ray Senecal $163,260.99 $106.46
Estate of Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett $162,055.59 $83,329.43
Deputy Fire Chief Kurt Gerfin $156.195.35 $45,846.10
Police Officer Robert Young $154,006.31 $68,165.31
Police Officer Sean Clifford $151,853.14 $63,220.84
Police Chief Eric Clifford $151,194.00 $0
Investigator Edward Ritz $148,351.95 $59,124.08
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