Police command officers accused of inaccurately reporting work hours

By: Cortney Casey | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published March 9, 2012


In what they classified as “a personnel matter,” city officials confirmed March 9 that 21 command officers from the Sterling Heights Police Department committed “timecard misconduct” over a three-month period.

In a prepared statement, Police Chief Michael Reese said the individuals involved, who were confined to a single division of the department, “did not accurately report leave time on their timecards.”

Last July, Sgt. Ken Solak, president of the police command officers’ union, reported that the union comprised 35 sergeants, lieutenants and captains — which would suggest that more than half of the command staff was implicated in the misconduct.

“I want to assure residents that at no time during this period were street-level police services or investigative services compromised,” Reese said in the statement. “Delivery of police services to the public remains steadfast, professional and responsive as ever. Furthermore, additional internal controls have been enacted to ensure similar types of incidents do not occur in the future.”

The department’s Special Investigations Bureau launched an investigation into the matter after an unidentified party supplied information to Reese’s office, according to the statement.

Community Relations Director Steve Guitar said, via the written statement, that the “course of the investigation affirmed that this was a personnel matter that did not arise to a level that would merit criminal investigation by an outside police agency.”

A “high-level police command officer” overseeing the division in question has resigned in light of the controversy, though the statement did not identify the individual nor the division involved, and Guitar, reached by phone, declined to do so.

Reese, the release indicated, is “considering imposing discipline on the officers involved based on the results of the investigation,” a process expected to take seven to 10 days.

“Upon the imposition of discipline, the city will consider this personnel matter closed, and therefore will not comment further,” the statement concluded.

Guitar said it would be premature to elaborate on the consequences for the officers involved.

“We will be able to release that at a later date, but we have to let the disciplinary process play out,” he said, explaining that the officers, in essence, have a chance to contest the penalty following formal notification. “The officers have due process due to them, and we need to play that out before we can speculate or suggest anything.”

Reese and Solak could not be immediately reached for comment on the situation.

The command officers’ union currently is embroiled in litigation with the city over a workweek reduction that was enacted last summer — after the unit declined to accept midcontract concessions — and was subsequently upheld by a binding arbitration ruling.

The case is still winding its way through Macomb County Circuit Court, with the next status conference on the docket for April.