Southampton Town Police Logged Long Hours Following Sandy

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Southampton Town Police officers worked more than 850 hours of overtime during the 10-day state of emergency declared by town officials following Superstorm Sandy last October.

The bill for the overtime, which has been included in town requests for reimbursement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, totaled $74,319 for the state of emergency.

Police officers accounted for about two-thirds of the total overtime hours, with supervisors accounting for the other third. But supervisor pay amounted to about 60 percent of the total expenses—about $44,000.

More than half of the overtime hours logged by supervisors was racked up by the department’s commanding officer at the time, Captain Robert Pearce, who is now the department’s chief, and by Lieutenant Lawrence Schurek, who was the town’s emergency operations coordinator and liaison to the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management. The two worked 214 hours of overtime in just over two weeks, in addition to their usual 40-hour work weeks during that period.

Captain Pearce, who was made chief of the department just one month after the storm hit, was the acting commanding officer of the department when the storm hit because Chief William Wilson Jr. was out of town on vacation and had told some town officials that he would not be returning to his post before his official retirement on December 1.

Captain Pearce logged 92 hours of overtime during the storm. He was paid $138 per hour.

Lt. Schurek, however, logged the most hours, during the storm: approximately 122 hours during the emergency period, at a pay rate of $125.72 per hour.

Chief Pearce said this week that the senior lieutenant spent much of that time, including two full weekends, at Suffolk County command, helping coordinate town, county and other agencies response in the town.

Town logs show that Lt. Schurek worked 16 consecutive days, several of them 15-hour days, during the state of emergency and the recovery period.

Due to a clerical error, Lt. Schurek was initially paid for an additional 27 hours of overtime after a clerk entered 30 hours of overtime for a period when he in fact only worked three hours overtime. According to Town Comptroller Len Marchese, the error was reported to his office by the police department three days after the incorrect paycheck was issued, on November 30, and Lt. Schurek’s pay was adjusted in the next pay period to account for the overpayment, which totaled about $3,400.

The town has submitted about $5.3 million in vouchers to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement as part of the federal emergency recovery effort, much of that in overtime salary costs for town employees.

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