MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile County Sheriff’s Office paid more than $6 million in overtime-pay last year, with the top 18 overtime employees earning almost $1.3 million in extra pay.
Working the most overtime in 2022 of the Sheriff’s Office’s 541 employees, was Sgt. Daniel Holifield, head of the MCSO vehicle fleet. He was fired and arrested last month for theft, but Sheriff Paul Burch says that had nothing to do with his overtime pay of $148,000.
According to MCSO payroll documents, Holifield worked 2,613 hours of overtime. If Holifield took a 2-week vacation, he would have averaged 92 hours a week on the job in the other 50 weeks of 2022. If he never took a day off, he would have worked, on average, 12.6 hours a day, all 365 days of the year.
“I’d say he’d be tired but then again you have those people who live and breathe working,” said Burch.
Holifield wasn’t the only employee to amass more than 2,000 hours of overtime in 2022.
Another sergeant worked almost 2,392 hours of OT. He made $142,700 in overtime pay, slightly less than Holifield’s $148,900.
There were 18 MCSO workers last year who logged more than 1,000 overtime hours, meaning they averaged a minimum of 20 hours of overtime a week. The 18 earned a combined $1.3 million in overtime pay.
“You’re always going to have a number of people who like working and making money,” said Burch. “But anytime you have an excess number of overtime hours you want to take a look at it.”
Burch, who took office in January, says no one has cheated the system, but he has already made changes to the overtime system.
“It was, for lack of a better term, just kind of willy nilly how it made it to payroll,” said Burch.
Burch says changes have been made to how, when, and most importantly, to whom workers report their overtime.
“There’s more oversight to the system,” he said.
Burch says it’s highly unlikely we will ever see another MCSO employee working more than 2,000 of overtime in a year.
“I would safely say that won’t happen,” Burch said.
The Sheriff says, however, that it is the nature of law enforcement to have employees putting in long hours. He says the problem has been made worse by a shortage of workers, the demands of Mardi Gras, and COVID related issues.
The Mobile County Commission provides the bulk of the Sheriff’s Department budget and cuts the checks for all Sheriff’s Office employees. None of the three County Commissioners wished to be interviewed for this story.