Overtime pay for MWRD officers skyrocketing

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News / BGA) - A water reclamation officer was caught on tape talking about sleeping and drinking on the job.

And now, FOX 32 and the Better Government Association has learned that that officer made tens of thousands of dollars in overtime, and he's not alone.

"I'm gonna trust that you're not a f______ plant from some clout heavy mother______ who's here to front us out," said Officer Denis Lawlor.

Lawlor inadvertently broadcast himself on his police radio last January as he was showing a new cop the ropes at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District's Stickney plant, which is the world's largest wastewater treatment facility.

As part of the tour, Lawlor showed the rookie a secret drinking room used by district employees, equipped with fridge, television and couch, which also doubled as a crash pad for those looking to catch some winks at work.

"I'll be honest with you, I got  f_____, I got a duffel bag with a f______ pillow and a blanket in it, and I throw that in my f______ car and brother (whistles) on that couch with my f______ vest sitting right there with the radio laying on the f_____ arm, you know. 251 plan. Right to f______ sleep. Nobody here really gives a f___. Everybody here is sleeping," Lawlor said.

Those comments made even more shocking now that FOX 32 has learned Lawlor made nearly $27,000 dollars in overtime last year, pushing his overall salary to more than $100,000 dollars.

"When you have an officer who talks about how little work he's doing and yet he's one of the biggest overtime earners at the agency, I think it raises a lot of questions," said Katie Drews of the BGA.

A freedom of information request by FOX 32 and the Better Government Association found Lawlor is one of seven district officers who made six figure salaries last year thanks to overtime, which is skyrocketing.

In 2011, the district spent $533,000 dollars in OT for 57 officers.

Last year, overtime cost more than $700,000 bucks for 51 cops out of the agency's 62-person police force, and is on pace to go even higher this year.

Executive Director David St. Pierre says they're hiring more cops to cut down on the OT, but-

"I have vacant positions. If I had filled those positions, I would actually pay more than what I'm paying in overtime," he said.

The officers are staffed 24-7 at the district's main facilities, yet in 2014 they filed a total of just ten police reports, which raises another question.

"Is this necessary? Do we need this police force? Can they consolidate with another governmental agency? Or can they contract out the work to a private company?" Drews said.

FOX 32 saw a number of squad cars from other law enforcement agencies pass the Stickney plant's gate. But St. Pierre says they need a standalone police force.

"Seven plants, one point two billion gallons. Is it worth securing that and is it worth providing a safety net for the city to make sure that infrastructure is protected? Absolutely," St. Pierre said.

As for Lawlor, FOX 32 wasn’t able to reach him to ask about all the overtime. But during his rant, Lawlor bragged about his OT and used a racial slur when talking about efforts to knock it down.

"I was third highest in the whole f_____ department in salary on what we worked in overtime.That stupid Alabama field n_____ thinks i'm the one that's gonna f_____ bring in relief people to cut down my overtime?" Lawlor said.

Lawlor remains on unpaid suspension pending termination, which he is appealing.

FOX 32 has also learned the officer he was showing around has since been fired, which is an action that was easier for the district to take because he was still on probation.

Altogether, the district has paid out $3.4 million in OT to its police since 2010.