David James Bruce

Multimedia Journalist

Reporting is prepared by the City of Boston Office of Human Resources. To contact the office to establish sourcing, inquiries can be sent through a generic contact form that requests name, email, and comment. As City of Boston is public employment all earnings reports must be published In their 2022 report, HR Drive public employee pay reporting is mandated by law. I believe the information is public because it involves tax money, and is of public interest. It also serves as a token of transparency to interested parties. This particular data set covers the calendar year of 2017.

This data is also published to track which departments within the city are using public funds for pay purposes. This helps to identify outliers and also to put parameters in place for the next spending year. For example, some police officers earned in excess of 70,000 in overtime pay. Overtime pay is typically charged at a time and a half rate. Managers can use this information to book staffing in the most fiscally responsible way possible. For example, A Lieutenant has a higher overtime pay rate than a sergeant or a patrolman. Does it make more sense to schedule patrolman for overtime on a road detail to save money?  Or better yet, schedule the detail as a regular tour of duty for a patrolman and pay them straight time. This obviously is more advantageous for the tax payer and the city acting on their behalf can make decision based on valuable data like this.

To conduct interviews, I would identify individuals that I would expect to have different opinions on this topic. First, I would speak to a citizen, but not just any citizen, a hardworking person that truly feels every dollar that comes out of their check in taxes. Next, I wound interview someone from the police union. Certainly, they would like the practice of paying as much overtime as possible to continue. Their opinion would be in direct conflict likely with the hard-working resident. Lastly, I would interview the mayor or another senior ranking official that has direct oversight on pay. My question would be: is this the most cost-effective way to accomplish this task? Is this in keeping with the best interest of the tax payer. My question would be simple, a request to see the policies about scheduling overtime for city officials.

In many states, civilian flaggers are used to guide traffic during road details with great success and cost savings. In their 2022 reporting, baystatebanner captured the tension between the Boston Police and labor activists at a meeting on the issue, with activists reminding the police that, they already have a salary that they get from the Boston Police Department. Others expressed an interest in bringing that money back into the community.

While the datasets in the reporting were broken down into several categories, I would have like a deeper explanation into the overtime stats to fully appreciate the cost. Further categorical breakdowns I would like to see is how much of the overtime was of a law enforcement nature versus how much of the money went to working road details.