David Meyer

The MTA is withholding wage and overtime information about some of its police officers from a watchdog group, a new lawsuit alleges.

Transit officials failed to provide names, titles and wages for “certain MTA police officers” for 2019 to the Empire Center’s SeeThroughNY database of government employee salaries, according to papers filed by the  group in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday.

“This is yet another example of a government agency trying to hide behind the Freedom of Information Law instead of following it,” said Tim Hoefer, president and CEO of the Empire Center.

“The idea that the public shouldn’t be allowed to know how many police officers there are or how much they are paid is outrageous.”

The Empire Center added 2019 wage data for the rest of the MTA’s employees to SeeThroughNY last month.

The MTA said it withheld “fewer than 20” names out of its 70,000-person workforce.

“They are MTA Police officers involved in sensitive missions and disclosing details about them would pose a threat to the security of the MTA system,” MTA Chief Safety Officer Pat Warren said in a statement.

“We will not apologize for responding with maximum transparency while also protecting the safety and security of employees and customers.”

An MTA source said the officers whose names were withheld “serve in plainclothes and counter-terrorism capacities.”

Among the MTA’s highest earners last year, Assistant Police Chief Kathleen Finnerman was the top-paid agency employee. Two other cops cracked the top 10.

In 2019, the average MTA police officer raked in $127,540. Agency cops make more per year on average than the employees of any other MTA division, according to Empire Center stats.

The cash-strapped MTA has put plans to hire 500 new police officers on pause as it faces a $10 billion two-year shortfall due to the coronavirus crisis.

© 2020 New York Post

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The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.