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No-Show Reserves Still Paid Salaries: Widespread Abuse Uncovered Which Cost Force Thousands

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

COMMANDERS or supervisors who signed time sheets for police reservists who failed to work may face disciplinary action if the recommendations of a recent branch audit are followed.

Due to improper management of timesheets, the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s Reserves audit found it was possible for the police force to disburse more than $800,000 monthly and just over $9.8m annually on reservist salaries. 

The phenomenon resulted in the RBPF’s payroll office having to use contingency funds on a monthly basis to meet reservist salary requirements because budget allocations were based on observed trends.

The reservist audit - tabled in Parliament yesterday - was conducted to determine if management of the branch was aligned with its established guidelines in the Police Act and Force Consolidated Orders, and to identify policies, procedures and practical deficiencies with a view to proposing recommendations.

It follows a manpower audit of the RBPF last year, which recommended an independent report was done on the reservist branch.

It uncovered “disturbing” management failures and overall neglect of the programme as well as “unexplained anomalies” surrounding time sheets that festered due to the “longstanding neglect of duty”.

Those anomalies concerned observations in submitted hours and persons appearing on the payroll, and translated into officers’ salaries “ballooning into full-time employment”.

Discrepancies were most prevalent in New Providence, the report noted.

The audit investigation sparked a crackdown, according to the report, which noted the commissioner of police has requested only commanders sign off on timesheets. 

However, the audit said the crackdown unearthed “many dishonest practices”.

The report stated: “Several reserves were submitting timesheets to commanders who had never supervised or met them. When questioned who they were, where and when they worked, many were left speechless. A few senior officers could not be accounted for [on] any divisional duty rota yet they requested pay via timesheets for more than 200 hours.”

The report found some officers were not considered active in their assigned divisions/stations but were still compensated by the payroll office; however due to poor personnel management - and the police force’s lack of economic analysis - there was no proper documentation to determine the actual working hours and active status of reservists. 

“Throughout the assessment period it was also determined that the police force had turned a blind eye to the established systemic approach of managing the time sheets for police reserves,” the report said.

“As it was discovered, there were commanders at the respective divisions who never assessed, monitored or evaluated any reserves’ timesheets under their purview.

“Unfortunately, it was also noted some officers were falsifying their actual duty hours when deployed on assignments such as cook-outs or band practice. Many had been allowed to document their own hours on the time sheets then proceeded to have them signed by a desk officer or, in some instances, the reserve’s supervisor.” 

In other instances, the report stated it was indicated that some officers serving in ranks of inspector or higher were abusing their positions by not reporting for duty but still received a full allowance for 150 hours per month.

 In one example, an officer claimed to have worked 331.5 hours in one month, and 403.5 hours in another month.

“This practice could only be described as exploitation based on an abuse of entrusted power for personal gain,” the report read.

In addition to the implementation of a clocking terminal at various divisions/departments, and an established policy to strengthen the verification process, the report also calls for the matter to be forwarded to the Office of the Auditor General for further investigation. 

This phenomenon was acknowledged by Cabinet in 2013, according to the report.

As such, the budget allocation for reserve officers bloomed from $5.73m for the 2014/2015 fiscal year to $6.82m for the 2017/2018 cycle. 

The allocation peaked in 2017/2018 at $7.54m.

Reservists are required to work an average of four hours per week with four weeks of entitled vacation, and are not permitted to work more than eight hours per day except for operational contingencies. This schedule amounted to 192 hours per year; however, the report identified the existence of a decade-long culture that saw reservists allowed to work up to 150 hours per month.

Of the 768 officers who turned up for active duty in 2018, the report found 510 officers averaged less than 150 hours; 235 averaged between 150 and 200 hours; while 23 officers worked 200 hours or more.

“A culture in which reserve officers devised their own schedule and failed to report for assigned duties seemed to become entrenched, once again, due to poor management practices of this branch,” the report read.

Among the litany of recommendations put forward by researchers, the report calls for the establishment of a formal database to be monitored by the payroll office to accurately account for all reservists, and that the payroll office conduct a mandatory verification process each year.

Comments

Sickened 1 month ago

Wow! So many PLP's in the police reserves.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month ago

Minnis and his cabinet don't have a grip on anything....it's just plain 'ole thievery as usual, happening right under the noses of Minnis and Dames. And to think the police (law enforcement) have been doing all of this stealing for well over a decade. One can only begin to imagine how much unearned overtime was wrongfully authorized by senior officers wearing brown uniforms in exchange for a portion of the ill-gotten payments being kicked back to them by the recipients. The theft that's been going on here for many years has totaled millions and millions of dollars each and every year. Meanwhile, all Minnis and Turnquest have been doing is increasing our taxes to the point where the backs of most of us have been broken. Our tax dollars are being stolen everywhere throughout government and the more taxes we pay, the more money there is to be stolen. And if the police have been getting away with stealing mega millions of dollars each and every year, one can only begin to imagine the mega millions more being stolen each and every year as a result of culturally ingrained corruption in all other government departments and agencies, not to mention government corporations. And the more corruption that's exposed, all the more corruption that sprouts up anew. The Minnis-led FNM government would have us believe they are making headway in stamping out corruption throughout the civil service, but nothing could be further from the truth. The new fellas in parliament, and their cronies, are much too busy doing 'their own thing', and we all know what that means for the governance of our country! You can bet your last dollar that not a single brown uniformed officer is going to face charges for this massive fraud and, even if they did, the powers that be will make sure they don't spend a single day in Fox Hill prison. The pervasive lawlessness within our civil work force, even within the police force, is now totally beyond comprehension. We are well along in becoming a failed state, and with no pay down of our national debt, the next U.S. economic downturn will not be one that we ever recover from.

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DDK 1 month ago

Absolutely incredible. Seems the majority of civil service officers and staff are nothing but a slack den of thieves that the tax payers have to support. It would appear the thievery and constant cover-up goes from top to bottom. I suspect the decent hard-working government employees are rather few and far between. SMT

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month ago

I hope you have been able to geographically diversify yourself like so many of us with another passport have done over the past decade or so. Successive corrupt PLP and FNM governments have failed to pay down our national debt and significantly reduce recurring expenses during the last decade of much prosperity in the U.S. And the smart money knows that the meteoric rise in the U.S. economy, fueled by quantitative easy (the printing of money), low interest rates and low oil prices, is not going to last for much longer, with a very hard landing to follow.

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DDK 1 month ago

Definitely the smart thing to do. Many economists have predicted the crash for this year or next at the latest, but they keep printing money. The Ponzi scheme has to topple sooner or later. I believe you are right that we will not be able to withstand it this time round. Unlike Japan, we have no reserves. Like so many countries that have succumbed to the rule of corruption, The Bahamas will not be a pretty place to be.....

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licks2 1 month ago

Cool ya jets there mouth without a brain. . .go back and read what ya writing. . .you all over the place making an accusation. . .then contradicting it. . . doing it all over again. . .hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. . .yoon had no breakfast this morning aye? Intellectually you "eating off ya face". . .putting it back on again. . .eating it off. . .so to speak. The term used in philosophy for your malady is Oxymoron. Now here it comes for the "plenty times". . .YOON MAKING MUCH SENSE THERE FELLA!!

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bogart 1 month ago

DA NURSES ....mostly females.....STAFFING IS CRITICALLY ....SHORT STAFFED......AN WORKING OVERTIME.......AN STRUGGLIN...PLEADIN.....TO... GOVT. MINISTER HEALTH DUANE SANDS TO GET BACK PAY...........VVERSUS....VERSUS............DA POLICE FORCE....HAS STAFFED RESERVIST..POLICE..AUGMENTING REGULAR POLICE ...mostly males.... AINT WORKING HOURS.....BUT GETTING PAID NOW REVEALED UNDER....... GOVT. MINISTER SECURITY DAMES.........!!!!!!!!!......looks like Minister Duane Sands...switch portfolio...with Minister Dames.....

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yeahyasee 1 month ago

Every week there's another ministry or agency involved in some corruption...this is really pathetic. Nobody will be charged or held responsible and next week will be another story and it keeps on going on

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banker 1 month ago

All you have to do is listen to KB's song "Civil Servant". It tells it all.

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Clamshell 1 month ago

Wow. In some instances, reservist cops whom they’re not sure even exist were claiming to work 100 hours a week, and getting paid for it, even if they didn’t show up — or even exist.

Key phrase: “... longstanding neglect of duty” by the leadership. We’re just SHOCKED! Uh ... actually, no, we aren’t.

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joeblow 1 month ago

Major question is how do we get the money back from these crooks?

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Sickened 1 month ago

Lol! They won't even ask. That proceeds of crime act was a complete joke. The AG's office doesn't even remember it exists. Money back? LMFAO!

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

Police Reservists are not full time employees ........... they are generally volunteer civilians with basic 10-week police training or part-time retired officers ................. they get paid based on the restricted amount of hours (80-100) that they work per month ........ Their maximum monthly hours are to be supervised by the assigned O/C ..... It is not for them to (not) work and get paid randomly .......... Check the pay sheets and who signed off on these "hologram reservist officers" ............ and see who collected the pay checks at HQ.

This sounds like an inside racket going on here.

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TalRussell 1 month ago

Yes, yes kinda unfair want single out to punish comrade individuals for 'no show' for policeman work, when not single 'dead individual' were ever disciplined for 'no shows' attend not even a single meeting at the various government board meetings of which none other than the prime minster he self signed their appointments to serve on, yes no - just can't make such 'No Shows Meetings Dead Appoints' up, yes, no?

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SP 1 month ago

WRONG! “This practice could only be described as THEFT based on an abuse of entrusted power for personal gain,”

Nobody surprised. The police have always been the biggest gangsters in the country!

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