Policing the MTA’s overtime police

by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has assigned its own police force to monitor attendance and overtime use by Long Island Railroad employees, the Daily News reports.

The move is part of an MTA management “crackdown” on overtime abuses following the revelations in new payroll records posted by the Empire Center at its SeeThroughNY.net transparency website.

But a review of SeeThroughNY’s searchable payroll database indicates the MTA Police agency hasn’t exactly been skimping on its own employees’ overtime and other extra pay, such as shift differentials and holiday pay. According to records obtained by the Empire Center:

  • MTA police officers collected an average of $34,932 in overtime and other extra pay above base salaries last year—slightly higher than the LIRR average of $34,000, and up from $30,192 in 2017.
  • Including overtime and extras, MTA police earned average total pay of $131,959, also the highest of any MTA unit.
  • The $27 million in total overtime and other extras paid by MTA police in 2018 was up 21 percent from the prior year’s total of just over $22 million, accounting for nearly two-thirds of the total payroll increase for MTA Police.
  • Boosted by overtime and extras, more than 117 MTA police officers, sergeants and lieutenants collected more than $200,000 in total pay, including 21 who made more than $250,000 and four who made more than $300,000.
  • Thirty-seven MTA police officers collected more than $100,000 in overtime and other extras; by comparison, according to payroll records previously posted on SeeThroughNY, only seven MTA police earned six-figure in overtime and extra pay in 2017.
  • The highest-paid MTA Police member in 2018 was Lt. Francis P. Zaino, whose $329,398 in total earnings included $170,820 in overtime and other extra pay (which, to be sure, was less than the overtime-and-extra pay collected by no less than 35 LIRR workers). Detective Sgt. Robert Rau scored the highest overtime and extra pay of $173,743, bringing his total pay to $309,442, third highest in the department.

Given the rise in overtime and extra pay among MTA Police, perhaps management ought to assign LIRR workers to monitor the attendance and work hours of the cops who have now been assigned to monitor them.

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- E.J. McMahon is the Research Director at the Empire Center for Public Policy.