BEECH GROVE, Ind. (Feb. 23, 2016) – The Beech Grove Police Department is under scrutiny after two employees have been using hundreds sick days towards their retirement– a use of benefit time that goes against the city’s employee benefit policy.
Some City Council members say taxpayers are paying for something they shouldn’t have to. Howeer, they’re quick to add that the issue is less about the two men that may have inappropriately used their sick days, and more about the management of the police department.
“The problem here is that when you are going to retire, you can’t mix your sick days with retirement, that is in the policy,” said Buddy Templin, Beech Grove City Council president pro tem. He says he knows the policy well after working for the City for more than 30 years.
“Before this council took office, the previous council received a letter from an anonymous person indicating that someone could be taking advantage of the policies at the Beech Grove Police Department,” Templin says. The letter originally showed up in July during the previous City Council’s term.
Two Beech Grove police officers are retiring soon, but they haven’t worked a single day since last fall. They’ve been using a mix of sick and vacation days to fill the time, which is against City policy.
“They were taking two sick days then a vacation day, then a few more sick days and then a couple days off,” said Chris Duffer, a Beech Grove Councilman. “They were doing it in this fashion so as to get paid for all of their sick days.”
“In July they had sick days that were for November, well how do you know in July what days you’re going to be sick?” said Dan McMillan, Beech Grove clerk-treasurer.
The current policy requires retiring City employees to be paid the full rate for unused vacation days, and at the half rate for earned sick time. This is paid in all in one lump sum as to not delay retirement with fully paid vacation and sick time. Council members are however quick to add that they’re not upset with the police department, but rather the Chief, or whoever signed off on the retiring employees’ sick day plans.
“According to the whistleblower, they were encouraged, there were other police officers in the room when they were encouraged to do this by their boss,” said McMillan.
When asked for comment, the Beech Grove Police Department did not respond.
The City attorney said in a letter to City officials that only one of the men was found to be misused his sick days.
Either way, these City Council member say they want the current policy enforced and the loophole closed.
“The issue is you’ve got to correct it appropriately,” said Templin. “And, you’ve got to go by the procedures that are laid out by the city council.”
Beech Grove City Council members say this will be discussed their next meeting, March 7, which is open to the public, and that further investigations are likely.