WAVE 3 News Undercover: Trooper appears to collect OT for patrols he doesn't do

WAVE 3 News Undercover: Trooper appears to collect OT for patrols he doesn't do
Published: Sep. 22, 2014 at 10:05 PM EDT|Updated: Jan. 13, 2015 at 4:05 AM EST
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Sgt. Michael Webb (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Sgt. Michael Webb (Source: WAVE 3 News)

WADDY, KY (WAVE) - A Kentucky State Police trooper is now under investigation as a result of what WAVE 3 News Troubleshooter Eric Flack caught on his undercover camera.

It was 8:24 in the morning and Trooper Mitch Harris, a 12-year-veteran of the force, was getting a late start to his work day, about two and a half hours late.

The logs show it was just before 6 a.m. when Harris, whose badge number is 371, clocked in by radioing in "10-98," a police code for ready for assignment.

[VIEW: Trooper Mitch Harris' workzone shifts]

His assignment that day was supposed to be paroling the Interstate 64 work zone near the new Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass in Shelby County. It was an overtime shift, paid for primarily by tax dollars and typically requested by troopers who want extra cash.

After a tip to the WAVE 3 News Troubleshooter department, we followed Trooper Harris for three consecutive shifts and it appears Harris didn't actually patrol the work zone on any of them, then collected the OT money anyway.

KSP spokesman Sgt. Michael Webb said that was not standard operating procedure.

"People get paid for what they work," Sgt. Webb said.

On Aug. 4, 5 and 8 KSP logs show Harris clocked in a few minutes before 6 am. Yet undercover video shows him coming out of his house after 8 a.m. then hitting the road, but not hitting the interstate work zone he was collecting overtime to patrol.

[VIEW: 2014 activity report for Trooper Harris]

How do we know for sure? On all three days of those days, WAVE 3 News drove the work zone for hours and never saw Harris or his cruiser once.

However where he was is unclear.

One day he parked his cruiser in a nearby neighborhood then hopped in a fellow trooper's car. Not normal practice, but also, not against regulation. Although that cruiser was not spotted in the work zone either.

On the two other days Harris might have been working regular duty. His pay stub shows he was charging the department for normal hours in addition to the work zone OT.

In all three instances KSP said there are no records Harris wrote any citations. As it turns out, that's not all that uncommon for him.

Work zone activity logs sheets required to receive the overtime pay reveal Harris had 253 work zone shifts dating back to 2012. On 14 of those days he did not write a single ticket. There are six, eight and even a 10 hour shift where Harris didn't issue as much as a warning.

[VIEW: Workzone activity logs from Trooper Harris]

There were days where Harris wrote citations, but there were many more shifts, some 14 hours long, where he only issued a warning or two.

When asked if he had ever patrolled the work zone for an entire shift and not written a single ticket, Sgt. Webb said, "I personally have not."

Harris's Lieutenants sign each and every one of his work zone activity logs approving the overtime pay. In all, $61,629 of work zone OT -- more than a year's salary.

KSP did not want Harris to speak with us about all this. It was an assignment he did follow, walking away from Flack without commenting on the undercover video or his work zone overtime.

[VIEW: Trooper Mitch Harris disciplinary action] 

Ignoring questions he will soon have to answer to internal affairs. KSP has now launched its own investigation.

"Kentucky State troopers have a reputation of serving the citizens of the commonwealth of Kentucky in a very proud and efficient manner," Sgt. Webb said, "and we will not allow that reputation to be infringed upon."

Sgt. Webb said KSP is not assuming guilt in this case and will let the investigation run its course. In the meantime, Harris' status as a Senior Trooper with Kentucky State Police remains unchanged.

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