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Point Beach Police Chief Defends Lt.'s O.T. Pay

Chief Kevin O'Hara said there are many duties done by Lt. Robert Dikun that cannot be done by lower-ranking police officers

A lack of police promotions has actually increased work demands and overtime pay for Lt. Robert Dikun, Chief Kevin O'Hara told the Point Beach Mayor and Council on Tuesday night.

Lt. Robert Dikun earned $70,000 in overtime last year, bringing his total salary to more than $195,000.

Dikun and O'Hara are the only two administrative officers in the 21-member department, due to police retirements and no promotions to fill those positions, O'Hara said.

Consequently, Dikun has had a heavy workload since there are numerous tasks that have to be done by an administrative officer, which means a lieutenant or higher, O'Hara said at the meeting.

"Lt. Dikun has been doing a phenomenal job, an excellent job, for 23 years, he's done what he was asked to do," O'Hara said.

The discussion was prompted by Marilyn Burke, a resident on Central Avenue, who asked who authorizes police overtime and was told O'Hara does.

"Why did the chief give Lt. Dikun so much overtime?" Burke asked.

O'Hara said part of the reason is that Dikun's administrative duties involve many that Ocean County, civil service regulations or the state mandate be done by an administrative officer.

"We used to have four administrative officers," O'Hara said.

He said Chief Daniel DePaola retired on April 1, 2010 and Lt. Harry DiCorcia retired on Aug. 1, 2010 and were not replaced.

O'Hara had served as a captain before being promoted. When he became chief, the position of captain was not filled.

"I've been asking council for the past 18 months for promotions, but it never happened and the work still had to be done," O'Hara said.

More recently, Sgt. Richard Otto retired this past December and it has not yet been determined whether he will be replaced.

"The three vacancies cut $400,000 from the police payroll, so paying $70,000 in overtime has us ahead of the game," O'Hara said.

O'Hara has also said council has been receiving police payroll reports regularly and that he had advised them about increasing overtime costs in a number of emails.

O'Hara broadened the discussion to address the overall issue of police overtime, which was $252,575 last year.

He said that has been increased partly because the former Point Beach Council cut a full-time dispatcher position in January 2010, which cost the department $20,000 in overtime.

The position has sometimes been filled with police officers who would have been better used out on patrol, O'Hara said. O'Hara said he can use specials as dispatchers during the summer, but has to use regular officers during the off-season.

There are currently three full-time dispatchers.

Another source of overtime, noted Mayor Vincent Barrella, is the $20,000 spent on police overtime last year because officers had to work long days in Municipal Court in Point Borough's Borough Hall on Bridge Avenue during municipal court sessions.

A shared services agreement entered into by a majority of the previous council and Point Borough moved the Point Beach municipal court location to the Borough.

"That was done without consulting our police department," Barrella noted. And it required that the Point Beach department send officers to the Borough because the Point Beach special police officers do not have jurisdiction in the Borough, Barrella said.

The Point Beach Council passed a measure Tuesday night to attempt to get the Borough to agree to let the Beach have its court location back in the Borough Hall in Point Beach.

Another source of overtime was Hurricane Irene, which cost the department about $25,000 in overtime, which will ultimately be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), O'Hara said.

Another overtime expenditure was $95,000 for overtime for police officers during the past summer to deal with a sharp spike in criminal behavior on the boardwalk and beachfront areas.

"I didn't have enough specials on staff when the community wanted more patrols, so I had to  use regular cops on overtime because specials were maxed out on hours," O'Hara said.

If you subtract the overtime prompted by the hurricane, the busier summer, the loss of a dispatcher and the court staffing, the overtime for the department would be less than $100,000, which is comparable to the past four years, said O'Hara, showing copies of his records, after the meeting.

In response to another question from Burke, O'Hara said Dikun is an instructor at the Ocean County Police Academy, which is time paid by Point Beach as part of his regular duties and not through overtime pay.

"Rght now, 40 of the 50 trainees at the academy are training to work as specials in Point Beach," O'Hara said.

He said it's beneficial for Point Beach to have Dikun teaching at the academy because of his dual background as a lawyer and as a police official.

"There are no lawsuits against officers in Point Beach," O'Hara said after the meeting. "You get what you pay for. We're very heavy into training because that's how you make sure mistakes don't happen."

Council members did not make any critical comments about police overtime at the meeting. To the contrary, Councilman Bret Gordon complimented the chief on how he has explained the reasons for overtime to the public and on the job the department has been doing.

Councilman Stephen Reid complimented the chief and the department a few times on filing speeding violations against speeding drivers on River Avenue. Reid said the residents greatly appreciate the stepped-up enforcement in what many of them describe as a road where cars constantly speed.

Reid is also working on a plan to have a sign posting speeds of cars driving on River Avenue to help supplement police enforcement.

After the meeting, O'Hara said he is optimistic that this year's council will ultimately authorize one or two promotions for the police department, so that administrative and supervisory duties can be spread out among several officials and overtime can be reduced.

"This council has made some good, positive moves in the right direction and I'm optimistic," he said.

CORRUPTIONATITSBEST February 17, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Uncle Ed, No one believes you. Get over the fact that less is following you and stopped drinking the poison laced kool aid a while ago that have been giving out. for Just admit everyone of you have been caught. Your games have been obvious to most.
CORRUPTIONATITSBEST February 17, 2012 at 03:21 PM
@Uncle Ed, As I am reading these post, You referred to and stated the "Obama"attitude, yet above you are saying next I will here it was President Bush's fault. What does either of them have to do with our town? That is how out of touch you are. I know plenty of individuals that did not agree or believe in either one of their policies. I think you are the one who is missing the points. These are local issues.
CORRUPTIONATITSBEST February 17, 2012 at 03:26 PM
@Beacon Beach, It sounds like you are jealous. If you were in his position you would have been asked to do the same thing. You would have done it too. He worked the hours. He should get paid. Do you know how or anything about the PD and how it should run? There were guys on PD their at the council meeting and they all were backing up the Lt.
CORRUPTIONATITSBEST February 17, 2012 at 03:56 PM
@Really??, That is the reason why there is so much overtime. We should have 4. The police department has been working on 2 way to long. A DCA report and study was done by the State of New Jersey. We have been short police for a while. I know everyone thinks we have to many police in a small one mile town... But according to them we do not. I have to believe them because they are the ones with all the experience on how to figure out what is needed in a town. We have a Boardwalk, a lot of rentals in the summer, 23 or 24 liquor license wether it is in bars, restaurants or clubs., Who allowed all these liquor license? How can we change this or at least control what is going on in our town. We have all kinds of benefit walks, and major events displayed by the boardwalk. All their followers are coming to this small town. All the other towns have to approve every event and they charge accordingly for what is needed, Security, clean up and insurance in case of law suits. It does not come cheap. Residents need to see the entire picture before they complain. Can't have it both ways. Either pay for the police or stop the events, walks and put stipulation on the bars that is creating the most problems. All of a sudden so many have become experts on how and what it takes to run the police dept and the town. The individuals that do not live here can't even imagine. I am sure they would change their mind if they did. We need to start charging more to all that want to use our town.
Andy February 18, 2012 at 08:39 PM
@Darlene, I thought I said it clear in my first post. Justification and pre-approval of all overtime should go without saying. Budgeting/forecasting should also play a key role in the amount of overtime needed. It comes down to the man hours needed to preform the administrative duties. With year-over-year data of the man hours worked for admin tasks, the budget should have been broken out to the regular hours and overtime hours needed to do the work. That way the budget could reflect the total dollars needed, regular and OT. If it makes fiscal sense to promote someone to handle some of the admin tasks which will cut the OT dollars, then I'm all for a promotion. You shoot to come in under budget and if you see the trend that could put you over budget, you let someone know asap, with justification, so appropriations and adjustments can be made. Basically, I want the town to get the best bang for the buck.

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