Boston police officers collected more than 400 hours of overtime pay over two years for court appearances that were not officially requested by the prosecutors overseeing the cases, found a Boston Globe analysis of a costly system that police acknowledge has been ripe for abuse. The 32 officers, from the department's drug unit, received pay for 91 instances in which they said they were called to testify in court for trials, case conferences, or motions hearings — claims that were not backed up by copies of court notices kept by the Suffolk district attorney's office.
The Globe discovered the pattern as part of a review of 40 cases between 2008 and 2010 that appeared to draw an excessive number of officers to court on the taxpayers' dime. Boston police disputed the findings, saying that in each of the cases a sergeant who supervises squads in the Police Department's drug unit had ordered the officer to court, or the prosecutor had verbally asked the officer to appear. Court overtime has long been a costly burden on the department's budget. Last year, the department spent $8.6 million, with the drug control unit charging $1.8 million.