Columbus officer racks up $8,000 in overtime in 4 months
COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi newspaper finds that a police investigator has been paid for 338 hours of overtime this year, including some as the mayor’s driver.
The Commercial Dispatch reports that a public records request disclosed that Investigator Reginald Adams was paid almost $8,000 for overtime between Jan. 1 and May 1. That’s in addition to Adams’s regular pay of more than $13,000.
The newspaper’s review shows the time included a February trip in which he drove Columbus Mayor Robert Smith and a City Planner George Irby to a Federal Home Loan Bank conference on affordable housing in New Orleans.
Receipts show the city paid $183.57 for Adams to stay in a hotel room and that he, Smith and the planner partook of a meal at Morton’s Steakhouse that cost the three of them more than $250 combined. Smith signed the restaurant receipt.
Smith wrote in an email that City Council members approved travel for himself and Irby and he then added Adams without council approval after asking Police Chief Fred Shelton if an officer could drive them.
“As the chief executive officer of the city, I have the authority to decide who goes on official city trips and this trip falls under that authority,” Smith wrote.
The newspaper’s review shows Adams’ overtime outpaces other investigators. The next highest investigator recorded 194 hours of overtime during the same four-month period. Adams shifted from patrol officer to investigator shortly after Shelton became police chief in January.
Adams has been asked to perform other special tasks as well.
Shelton previously confirmed that he asked Adams in the early morning hours of March 9 to go to Starkville in an unmarked police unit and pick up part-time patrol officer Louis Alexander, who Starkville police had stopped for driving drunk.
Starkville police did not ticket Alexander, although Columbus council members later suspended him for 16 working days.
City Councilman Joseph Mickens questioned the trip.
“I have some concerns about that,” he said. “I mean, Robert and George can both drive. Why did they need (Adams)?”
Councilman Bill Gavin, though, expressed little concern.
“We’ve always had a lot of overtime in (criminal investigation), so this is not the first time,” Gavin said. “And I know the mayor has taken other employees as drivers on trips in the past, especially when it’s in a bigger city.”