I mean, good for them, right?
Being a cop is also one of the few jobs for people who aren't automatically college-bound. (Many end up taking classes just the same.) If you're willing to put in the hours, you can often do pretty well. Your wage might not be that high, but the over-time can really pay off.
Still, I'd rather see state police paid a higher wage or paid over-time for actual police work than for directing traffic. There is now a pretty unseemly conflict in the ranks of the state police over who should get more over-time. A sort of embarrassment of riches.
The State Police, already flush with overtime pay from construction details, are engaged in an intradepartmental battle over which officers are entitled to lucrative overtime shifts for public safety campaigns and special events.
The union that represents the department's troopers and sergeants has challenged the State Police colonel's right to assign lieutenants to overtime shifts, arguing that the higher-ranked and higher-paid officers should not be engaging in union work. Tomorrow, the State Police Department will appear in Suffolk Superior Court to appeal an arbiter's ruling that the union had the right to challenge the assignments.
The average trooper makes $53 an hour in overtime, compared to $80 for the average lieutenant, a State Police spokeswoman said. She pointed out, however, that rank-and-file officers received 91.1 percent of overtime hours during the last six months of 2006.
"The colonel's position is, if you're a member of the department and you're a police officer, the colonel has the right to assign you to do specific work," said Lieutenant Sharon Costine.
But Senator Jarrett T. Barrios, chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, said that the department's motivation in bringing the lawsuit appeared to be less about public safety than about supervisors wanting to make more money. He said union officials have advised him that lieutenants can cost the state almost three times as much as troopers.
"In effect, we are spending taxpayer dollars to litigate the right of State Police management to spend more taxpayer dollars for the very same service," he said in a phone interview yesterday. "This doesn't make sense."
According to Costine, a first-year trooper earns $37 an hour in overtime, compared with $92 for a top-paid lieutenant. But that large differential would be rare, since most first-year troopers make more than the minimum because of their educational qualifications, she said .