Elmwood Park Police Chief Donald Ingrasselino has collected nearly $30,000 in overtime since 2010 for work on drunken-driving enforcement operations, a review of payroll records shows.
Between Jan. 1, 2010, and Oct. 6 of this year Ingrasselino was paid $29,436 for his role in DWI operations in addition to his annual salary, which was $205,000 in 2010.
Borough officials are investigating whether the chief was entitled to that pay, and whether other department heads have improperly received overtime pay. The mayor and council have asked Borough Attorney Brian Giblin to provide a legal opinion.
"We're waiting to have the attorney clarify it," Mayor Richard Mola said Thursday. "I don't believe the contract indicates he can collect overtime, but that's what we want to determine."
Ingrasselino could not be reached Thursday or Friday.
Ingrasselino's contract, which was obtained by The Record, has no provision for overtime pay. By comparison, the contract that covers all other police officers clearly outlines when overtime compensation should be paid and at what rate.
Giblin will report his findings at a City Council meeting Thursday in closed executive session, Mola said. Giblin declined to comment Thursday, saying it was a personnel matter that he was looking into.
Overtime for police chiefs and other high-ranking police officers is typically a contractual matter subject to local control, according to local and state officials.
Overtime pay for department heads fell under intense scrutiny last month in neighboring Paterson when records revealed that Mayor Jeffery Jones and several salaried members of his administration received overtime checks for work in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. All were salaried employees who normally are ineligible for overtime.
The state Department of Community Affairs, which weighed in on the Paterson overtime issue, was asked for an opinion about the borough police chief's pay.
"As we understand it, labor laws do not entitle elected officials and managers to overtime compensation," said spokeswoman Lisa Ryan. "This includes police chiefs. A police chief would only be able to receive overtime pay if such pay is stipulated in his/her work contract or in an ordinance approved by the municipality's governing body."
Records show that Ingrasselino's overtime pay was for DWI enforcement, which was reimbursed with federal, county and state funding. His exact role was not specified, but Ingrasselino told the council at a meeting last week that he supervised DWI posts, making sure roadblocks were in the proper place and that procedures were followed.
Grants cover pay
The 37-member Elmwood Park Police Department was recently ranked by the New Jersey Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund as the fourth best police department in the state for making DWI arrests and has received numerous grants for DWI operations.
Like Elmwood Park, many police departments use these grants to pay police overtime for DWI operations, but Councilman Richard Trawinski said that's a matter of concern.
"If it's costing us overtime on DWI, is it worth it?" he asked. "If it is coming from the state -- grant money or any kind of money are still our tax dollars."
Trawinski said he was surprised when the borough's chief financial officer informed the council about the overtime pay last week. "As far as we knew, most of the other department heads don't get overtime," Trawinski said, adding that the public works director put in many extra hours without pay.
Borough records show there were some exceptions, though. Municipal Judge Anthony Gallina was entitled to overtime for extra court sessions, and the head of the Health Department, Debbie Ricci, was paid $1,387 for extra hours last year with a state and federal grant for the H1N1 vaccine.
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Here's a look at overtime pay Elmwood Park Police Chief Donald Ingrasselino received for 2010 and this year to date:
Elmwood Park has a population of 19,403, according to the 2010 census. Its Police Department is staffed by 37 employees.
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