While BPD investigates, employees collect $2.5m

Some workers have been out for 1½ years

THE BOSTON POLICE Department has paid out $2.5 million in salary and benefits to the 18 employees who are currently on administrative leave while the agency investigates alleged wrongdoing by them.

The investigations by the department’s internal affairs and anti-corruption divisions tend to take a long time – three of the cases have been ongoing for more than 1½ years. The $2.5 million cost — $1.9 million in salaries and $600,000 in benefits – represents less than 1 percent of the department’s payroll.

In response to a public records request and after several followup inquiries, the BPD released a list of employees on administrative leave and how much they have been paid.

The department declined to provide any details on why the 18 employees – 10 patrolmen, three superior officers, one cadet, and four civilian workers – were on paid administrative leave. But press accounts provide some information for a few of the benched officers.

The highest payout to date was $272,235 to Captain Haseeb Hosein, who was put on leave in May 2019.  At the time, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross told WBUR that the department is looking into alleged corruption by Hosein, who is the first ever Muslim to hold a top commander rank in the BPD.  The Dorchester resident is a 30-year veteran of the force, and since 2014 was in charge of the Mattapan police station.

 Hosein was the subject of four prior internal affairs investigations that were sustained, meaning the evidence supported the allegations. In 2007, for example, he was suspended for 240 days for paid detail violations, being untruthful, and unbecoming conduct.

Hosein was among the highest paid of all city employees in 2018, pulling down a salary of $399,000, over 40 percent coming from overtime and detail work.

Another officer, Joseph Lynch, a patrolman who was placed on paid administrative leave last September, has been paid $92,690. The 16-year BPD veteran was put on leave for reportedly calling some allegedly disruptive ninth- and tenth-graders racial slurs at a McDonald’s, the Boston Globe reported last year. Lynch worked out of the station in Hyde Park.

Three other Boston patrolmen — Curtis Carroll, Louis Vasquez, and David Stewart — were all placed on paid administrative leave in February 2019 — the longest any of the 18 have been on paid leave — allegedly for payroll abuse perpetrated while working the front desk at Boston Police headquarters in Roxbury, according to a Globe story last year. The three officers to date are the respective recipients of $195,535, $187,060, and $175,530 in paid leave while they are being investigated on charges of corruption.

Other police personnel currently on paid administrative leave who have also received payments north of $100,000 are Officers Michael Paillant ($104,750) and Gladys Frias ($104,820), as well as Lt. Timothy Torigian ($269,555). Torigian was also recently charged by the local US Attorney, Andrew Lelling, with submitting paperwork for nearly $45,000 in overtime hours he did not work.

Paid administrative leave during investigations is common through most levels of government, but there have been attempts to limit how long it can last. The BPD has no cap on the length of time employees can remain on paid administrative leave, and while on leave they are entitled to any salary bumps negotiated as a result of collective bargaining agreements that are in place.

Gross, the police commissioner, did not respond to requests for an interview. The Boston Patrolmen’s Association, the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation, and the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society also did not respond to requests for comment.

Dennis Kenney, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and a former Florida police officer, points to several reasons why internal affairs investigations can take so long, leading to costly payouts.

“It can be a complex case, for example, or the procedures in place may be inadequate,” he says. “Or often, the department may lack focus on resolving the investigation in a timely manner — they just aren’t getting around to it because of inertia.  Meanwhile, the payments to the sidelined officers for no work continue mounting up.”

Kenney says that some investigations such as payroll abuse should be wrapped up relatively quickly.  “It’s quite straightforward,” he says. “It either happened or it didn’t happen.  It’s a matter of simply following the money. It doesn’t require a complex investigation. If officials have sufficient grounds to be able to put the person on administrative leave, that means they’ve already gathered a good deal of evidence.”