CHP Scandal Could Spread State-Wide

The California Highway Patrol’s overtime scandal – in which more than 100 officers from its East Los Angeles branch may have inflated their overtime while helping Caltrans workers stay safe while doing freeway maintenance work – could explode into a statewide scandal. That’s contrary to claims made when the scandal first emerged in February, when CHP officials said a survey of other commands turned up no similar false claims.

Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and a team of attorneys are representing more than 30 of the accused CHP officers. According to a Los Angeles Times report, 14 accused officers are facing termination while 90 more are still being investigated. Cooley says about 40 in total are at risk of being fired.

The main allegation facing officers: That they would seek eight hours of overtime pay after only being needed by Caltrans to work half that many hours or less on protection details.

Overtime spiking called common across state

But in court documents and in comments to the Times, Cooley says he can establish several points countering the CHP’s claims about the case. The most serious: The practice of padding such overtime is common in many of the 103 CHP commands around the state, according to former CHP officers. This would mean that Caltrans was overcharged by far more than the $360,000 that CHP has already documented.

Cooley also alleged that several middle- and upper-level CHP officials, including one who helped launch the East L.A. probe, engaged in the same questionable overtime billing practice when they were lower-ranking officers from 2007 to 2009.

The CHP is so far resisting releasing related documents requested by Cooley’s team and the media, saying the information is related to the ongoing investigation of the scandal.

But the involvement of another state agency with its own reputation to protect makes it seem unlikely that CHP can keep the lid on the scandal, as it tried to do on other internal problems earlier this century.

In February, Caltrans Director Laurie Berman announced that the agency’s inspector general would do a thorough audit of the CHP-Caltrans relationship.

“Caltrans takes violations of the law very seriously and illegal activity of any kind is not tolerated within the department,” Berman said in a statement to the Times. “If it is determined there was Caltrans employee misconduct, disciplinary action will be taken.”

Caltrans has not disclosed a timetable for when the inspector general’s audit will be released.

Scandal echoes those seen in Schwarzenegger years

The scandal marks the end to a decade of relative quiet for California’s largest law-enforcement agency. Among the allegations against the CHP during the Schwarzenegger administration:

  • In 2009, the Ventura County Star reported that there was strong evidence that CHP officials impeded a hate-crimes investigation of a local CHP officer involved in a racially charged incident after officers held a party at an Oxnard hotel.
  • In 2006, the Sacramento Bee reported that the CHP spent nearly $50 million on helicopters and motorcycles that were not open to competitive bidding. The companies given the contracts – Eurocopters and BMW, respectively – had courted top CHP officials with gifts and meals.
  • In 2004, the Bee reported on the “Chiefs’ Disease” phenomenon in which 80 percent of top CHP officials filed for medical disabilities in late career, enabling them to get much more generous pensions. Because police discipline records were then confidential, Bee reporters confirmed the scandal through worker’s compensation claims filed by the CHP executives.

A CHP attorney threatened the Bee with a lawsuit if the records were used in the Bee’s reporting, saying the records were confidential. The Bee went ahead with the story, prompting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to eventually force out then-CHP Commissioner D.O. “Spike” Helmick.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Comments

  1. Government and for the public good type jobs should never be career jobs nor should they be allowed to unionize. Think of the tax reduction in that scenario. An alternative would be public volunteers and/or a paid and trained 5 year public rotation (ex. After 5th year find job in public sector – 4th year worker starts 5th year – 3rd year worker starts 4th year – … – new batch starts 1st year.)
    Anyway, just my 2 cents.

    • You have no idea how hard it is to find qualified applicants to fill these jobs. Not only Law Enforcement but technical jobs such as Communications Technicians, engineers, other highly skilled jobs. What some focus on are the wages. But doing what you suggest would only make the process harder and the qualification skill set lower, when the first incident of impropriety shows up then it’s “Their” fault. In any career there will be “Bad Apples” and because in our current climate “Cops” are the enemy bad people suggestions like yours show up until you or your family become the victim..

  2. Just another example of the “entitlement mentality” the controlling government in Democrat controlled States foster. Thank the voters for not taking charge!

  3. Michael Leipski says

    Seems like the offices are taking cues from our dumbshits under the dome!! The fish rots from the top down!! This state is like a third world country. Just one big shit hole. Cant wait to move to Tennessee and give Cali the middle finger. Let the illegals have it. Build the wall across Az.NV. And OR

  4. Another example of why LEO’s shouod never be idolized. They go into the profession for the power and the money. It isn’t a tiny fraction that is corrupt,it’s a sizeable amount.

    • Not true, just like any profession, Doctors,Lawyers, plumbers etc there will always be some bad apples that screw it up for the rest of us

  5. Yep and the Firefighters do the very same thing. They justify this by telling us what heroes that they are , so they are entitled to lie cheat and steal from the citizens of California because we owe it to them.
    From the sword of———–

  6. I knew a man who’s son was a capitain with the Fire Department . I an not going to say where. One day he told me about how smart his son was . He said that his son , a captain with the Fire Department was going to retire in less than 2 years and was padding his hours so that he could retire at TWICE the salary that was his base Pay and went on to brag about how the Fire Department Employees had figured out this method of criminal retirement practices . I did not say anything but I immediately felt BETRAYED BY THE FIRE DEPARTMENT.
    There has been stories and lawsuits over this practice for years and it looks like NOTHING was ever done to stop it. Not exactly the act of Hero’s in my way of thinking.
    From the sword of ———–

    • It’s not just the fire dept. The police and teachers do it also. They control the local elections which, although against the law, they do. Sorry but I have been so anti-union for civil servants for so long my skin crawls when I think about the abuse. I believe it is imperative that everyone do what they can to make their elected reps realize we have to quit giving tax benefits to allegedly disabled civil servants if they are actually working taking home a considerable pay check. I’ve been dealing with this nonsense for years and just cannot believe the abuse.

  7. And the blue rot continues. Disappointing but, not surprising.

  8. The 2 things that will ultimately destroy Kommiefronistan are the change to a full time legislature under governor daddy Brown (Edmund G Brown) in 1966 and the laws passed under his son Moonbeam Brown in the mid/late 1970’s allowing public employees to unionize.

  9. Chris Menainger says

    This is nothing more than a group of officers who got caugjt doing something illegal and immoral. They have employed attorneys in an attempt to avoid termination, and or jail. So the end result, they spread a blanket statement “the entire Department is corrupt” in an attempt to distract focus from their fraud. This amounts to nothing more than the mirser suspect saying his friend did the deed, but cannot provide any further information to prove his initial claims.

  10. This would just be another transgression against the taxpayer that is already packing the burden of an overflowing cauldron of corruption that is the state of California. EVERYONE IN THE SYSTEM IS GAMING THE SYSTEM FOR ALL IT’S WORTH. You bet your sweet ass the CHP is resisting releasing related documents. This is some made to order, down home, everybody’s favorite type of corruption that has made California famous as Amos. When you take a state department and put them in charge of themselves, what do you get? Wrong answer, guess again.

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