Southington chief's unusual arrangement allows for extra work

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SOUTHINGTON — The police chief’s unusual employment arrangement allows him to earn tens of thousands in road job work annually but his bosses on the police commission have no complaints.

John “Jack” Daly is two months away from celebrating his 20th anniversary as Southington’s police chief. He has 38 years in the department.

Since taking the department’s top spot in 2002, Daly hasn’t had a contract. He and the Board of Police Commissioners agree to the employment details, which include the flexibility to work private duty jobs during vacation or off hours.

The chief’s base salary this year is $162,000. For the past several years he’s made more than $200,000 with the difference coming from the utility and construction companies which hire police for construction projects.

“He’s on a road job on his own time,” said Michael Riccio, a police commission Republican and former Town Council chairman. “Whether it’s his day off or his vacation time.

“There’s so much work out there and there’s not enough manpower to handle it all,” Riccio added.

Private duty

Utility or construction companies working on main roads have to hire police officers to direct traffic. Those companies can hire flaggers or officers for jobs on smaller roads. The rate is determined by the time and a half pay for a police sergeant plus charges for town and police administration.

Officers and Daly are paid $281.68 for each four-hour shift, the minimum for which police can be hired.

According to town invoices to a variety of utility and construction companies, Daly took 27 private duty shifts in May, earning nearly $8,000 that month. In June, he worked 12 shifts, taking in about $3,500.

Daly said he’s not afraid of hard work and grew up watching his father work three jobs. When he first started working road jobs, other police chiefs were surprised and amused. 

“You don’t make this kind of money having a 40-hour work week,” he said. “You have to be willing to hustle.”

Over the past few years Daly said his total pay has ranged from just over $200,000 to $211,000. About a quarter of that is private duty.

Flex time and vacation days

Daly and the commission agreed that he’ll work a 40 hour week. When he chooses to work those hours is up to him. He’s not eligible for overtime.

During May when Daly was taking several daytime road job shifts, he came in early and worked late, he said. If he reaches the end of the week and is still short hours, Daly said he’ll use vacation time. He’s got five weeks of vacation per year but rarely uses it for recreation.

While there’s no requirement that Daly work his 40 hours from the police station on Lazy Lane, he comes in anyway. Cameras at the department show him coming and going, proving he was there for the hours he claims on his time card Daly said.

“I want to cover my butt so nobody can say I’m doing anything wrong,” he said.

Police commission members said Daly is always available 

“The chief’s position is a 24/7 position,” said Stephen Kalkowski, a police commission Republican. “We can get him at any time, anybody can get him at any time… There’s never been a situation where I’ve been unable to reach him.”

James Verderame, a commission Democrat, said he talks with Daly “every other day.” 

“If anything happens, he’s there. From the smallest to the biggest thing, he’s there,” Verderame said.

Anonymous critic

Earlier this summer police commissioners as well as the Record-Journal received anonymous letters questioning the chief’s private duty work. The writer claimed the chief wasn’t at the station enough and picked the easiest road jobs.

In a July executive session meeting, the police commission discussed the letter with Daly behind closed doors. The chief said he had no problem explaining the situation to police commissioners and was willing to show them his hours log of time worked as well as vacation time used. 

Commission members suggested a requirement that Daly never take road duty work when deputy chief William Palmieri is not working. Daly said he had no problem with that requirement.

Daly said he’s never had a problem with requests or requirements from the commission.

“I don’t want any fights. I just want to do my job and be left to do my job,” he said.

He’s got nearly double the years necessary for retirement and could leave the job and receive a pension of 76 percent of his pay. Pensions are calculated as a percentage of a worker’s three highest-earning years. While Daly said the pension would cover his family’s expenses, he doesn’t want to leave the department.

“I love this job,” he said.

Commission members also hope he remains.

“The chief has been an outstanding job leading the department. The department has gone through a tremendous amount of change over those 20 years,” Kalkowski said. “To me, the chief is a big reason why the department continues to be a high performing department.”

Verderame said Southington is a model for other police departments in areas such as the stolen car task force. It’s a sign of a healthy department that other towns are emulating.

“We had a ton of places asking us about what we’re doing,” Verderame said.

No contract?

Daly hasn’t had a contract for his entire tenure as chief. There’s more protection under state statutes for police chiefs without a contract than with one, he said.

At the end of a contract, town’s have the option to not renew. Without one, Daly said they have to terminate only for just cause, which is a higher bar to clear.

Daly sees no reason for a contract at this point. Commission members felt similarly.

“I have no concerns about him not having a contract,” Kalkowski said. “I can’t see us trying to put him under a contract at this point in time. I just don’t feel it’s necessary.”

Kalkowski and Verderame said contracts have now become standard and Daly’s eventual successor will likely have one.

According to Town Manager Mark Sciota, Daly’s raises and medical benefits are the same as those for police union members. Daly is not a part of the police union or the town’s supervisors union.

Union rules on road jobs

Detective John Marenholz, the Southington police union president, said his bargaining group’s contract requires union members get a chance to take road jobs before anyone else. Any jobs the chief or the department’s supernumerary officers take are those unclaimed by union members.

“It’s been going on for a while without issue,” Marenholz said. “That’s how it’s been playing out… As long as that’s adhered to, it’s status quo.”

Daly said when road work jobs go unclaimed, projects have to be delayed or the work goes to officers from other towns. He and other officers are able to leave private duty jobs in an emergency.

‘Busy enough’

Last summer Wallingford Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. appointed John Ventura to replace William Wright as police chief. Ventura doesn’t have a contact. Dickinson said state law is clear about when a chief can be removed and a town’s contract can’t contradict state statutes.

“It’s riskier for an individual to take on the job with a contract because they can be removed at the end of a contract for no cause,” Dickinson said. Wallingford’s long-serving mayor couldn’t recall a time when a police chief had taken private duty jobs.

“I think the job they have is busy enough. I don’t know where they’d find time to be able to do extra duty,” he said. “It’s a consuming job.”

John DeCarlo, director of the University of New Haven’s criminal justice program and a former Branford police chief, said there’s a lot that’s uncommon about Southington’s arrangement with its police chief. With the average chief’s tenure just three years, DeCarlo said Daly is remarkably long-serving. Many towns and cities have the police chief reporting to a manager or mayor rather than a police board, some of which are advisory bodies. Daly’s lack of a contract was also out of the ordinary, he felt. 

“I have not seen any chiefs who don’t have contracts,” DeCarlo said. “It guarantees them their benefits.”

Unusual too, at least for Connecticut, was Daly’s road duty work. DeCarlo said chiefs in smaller departments across the country do this type of work but it’s uncommon in the state.

“What may seem odd here, because it’s not normally done, is done in other states. It’s definitely done in other states,” DeCarlo said. “He’s maybe taking advantage of a situation that’s lucrative and certainly not illegal or immoral or unethical.”

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ


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