September 19, 2016

NYPD Gives Top Chief Call on OT for ‘Modified’

Spurred by Garner Cop’s Pay


PATRICK J. LYNCH: No reason Pantaleo can't earn OT

The Police Department has given the Chief of Department sole authority to approve overtime for officers assigned to desk duty because of confrontations while on patrol, following published reports showing that Daniel Pantaleo—the cop whose force in subduing Eric Garner was a contributing factor in the Staten Island man’s 2014 death—has had his income steadily rise since being stripped of his badge and gun.

Even before he succeeded William J. Bratton as Police Commissioner late last week, James P. O’Neill—who at the time was the NYPD’s top uniformed official—ordered the review in the wake of a report in Politico that triggered a front-page Daily News story Sept. 13 that featured criticism from Mr. Garner’s family members and their supporters of the surprising bump in income for the veteran officer.

Gomez Must Sign Off

By the end of last week, it was announced that Mr. O’Neill’s successor as Chief of Department, Carlos Gomez, would have to authorize all overtime work for cops on modified duty.

Officer Pantaleo, whom tabloids began calling the “choke­hold cop” after a bystander’s video showed him manhandling Mr. Garner in July 2014, earned $119,996 in fiscal 2016, which ended June 30.

Mr. Pantaleo earned $105,061 in fiscal 2015, and in fiscal 2014, his last year on full duty, he made $99,915. His base pay was $76,488 in 2014 and 2015 and $78,026 in 2016.

Includes ‘Night’ Bonus

Politico New York, the first outlet to report the story, said that in fiscal 2016 Mr. Pantaleo received $23,200 in overtime and $12,853 in unspecified pay, which includes night-differential pay and retroactive pay from an arbitrator’s contract award last year.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association more than a decade ago negotiated an “equalization” provision so that the city’s night-differential allocation—previously 10 percent for night hours—was equally divided among all members of its bargaining unit, including those working strictly day tours, for all shifts they actually worked.

For fiscal 2015, he was paid $17,109 in overtime and $11,673 in additional earnings, Politico reported. In fiscal 2014, when he worked in plainclothes in Staten Island’s 120th Precinct, he earned $17,189 in overtime.

Mr. Pantaleo is currently assigned to clerical duties at Patrol Borough Staten Island.

NYPD spokesman John Grimpel told Politico in an e-mail before Mr. O’Neill weighed in, “At times, officers are required to work beyond their scheduled tour of duty. This includes officers on modified assignment.”

‘Has Right to Do OT’

Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said, “Police officers can be placed on modified duty at the beginning of an investigation during which time evidence is gathered and analyzed and which may or may not result in disciplinary charges. Modified duty is not a punitive action nor is it a finding of any type. It is a holding action that allows due process to go forward.

“There is absolutely no justification to prevent police officers on modified duty from working overtime when the department requires. Overtime is not a reward and police officers do not control it; the department does. If the department needs to extend an officer’s tour, then they can be asked to or ordered to do so. These officers have every right to continue to support their families until there is some determination regarding their actions.”

Mr. Pantaleo was among a group of officers who confronted Mr. Garner, who had more than 30 arrests, when they suspected him of selling untaxed cigarettes. Mr. Garner denied any wrongdoing and said he would not be arrested.

Died Shortly After Scuffle

Mr. Pantaleo grabbed him around the neck in the process of bringing him to the ground, leaving many who saw the video with the impression that he had used a chokehold, which is banned by the NYPD. Mr. Garner died of a heart attack about an hour after the takedown.

Mr. Pantaleo denied to a grand jury that he had employed a chokehold, saying he had used another hold he had learned in the Police Academy. The grand jury declined to indict him.

The U.S. Department of Justice is now investigating whether he violated Mr. Garner’s civil rights. Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said this summer that the NYPD investigation was complete, but that any action that would be taken against Mr. Pantaleo was on hold pending the end of the Federal probe.

Politico said it looked into Mr. Pantaleo’s compensation after a recent debate about whether state civil-rights law would prohibit an announcement of any disciplinary action taken against him.

The story was quickly picked up by other news outlets. “Choke Slay Makes Cop a Killing,” the Daily News said in a page 1 headline.

The News reported Sept. 13 that a handful of other officers on modified duty had received significant overtime payments.