Federal Fraud? JCPD billed OT for George Floyd protests as COVID-19

Some JCPD officials are concerned about a potential federal inquiry into police OT related to Jersey City’s George Floyd protests, per documentation and information obtained by Real Garden State.

COVID-19 - George Floyd - Jersey City protests - Chief Mike Kelly - Deputy Chief Edgar Martinez - Capt. James Crecco

On right, from top to bottom: Chief Mike Kelly, Deputy Chief Edgar Martinez, and Capt. James Crecco. (PHOTOS: City of Jersey City)

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, as political organizers planned protests throughout Jersey City, police leadership was focused on a more practical matter – making sure officers stated COVID-19 Manpower Backfill on their overtime sheets so the city would receive federal reimbursement.

According to a May 30, 2020, email obtained by Real Garden State, Capt. James Crecco wrote “per Chief Kelly, all overtime sheets submitted for supplemental patrols should state “COVID-19 Manpower Backfill” the explanation as to why overtime was necessary.” The first major protest in Jersey City didn’t occur until two days later, on June 1, 2020.

Multiple Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) sources tell Real Garden State that many officers refused to comply and wrote protest, or some variation, on their OT sheets. However, that apparently didn’t stop the clerks in all of the city’s districts from billing COVID-19 on OT spreadsheets.

For example, records leaked to Real Garden State show that the JCPD’s North District had an astounding 3,146% jump in COVID-19 OT during the protests. An Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request has been filed with the City of Jersey City for JCPD OT records, though, it’s unlikely the Fulop administration will be turning them over anytime soon.

The following is a breakdown of JCPD North District OT hours by officer and supervisor, plus totals; the first two pay periods are prior to the protests, the third covers the major protests in Jersey City:

  • From 5/2/20 to 5/15/20
    COVID-19: officers (131), supervisors (49);
    Non-COVID: officers (183), supervisors (1);
    Total: 364.
  • From 5/16/20 to 5/29/20
    COVID-19: officers (32.5), supervisors (106.5);
    Non-COVID: officers (173.5), supervisors (0);
    Total: 312.5.
  • From 5/30/20 to 6/12/20
    COVID-19: officers (1,055), supervisors (272.5);
    Non-COVID: officers (187), supervisors (2.5);
    Total: 1,517.

One source estimated that the increase in COVID-19 OT, for the entire JCPD during the pay period covering the George Floyd protests, cost about $1,000,000. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not respond to an email asking whether or not billing police OT for protests as COVID-19 was condoned.

Amongst the JCPD’s brass, the situation has supposedly became a source of contention – with some concerned about a potential federal inquiry ruining their retirements.

Furthermore, despite the email featured in this article stating the order was “per Chief Kelly,” sources indicate that the decision was actually made by Deputy Chief Edgar Martinez. Crecco, the featured email’s author, is Martinez’s executive officer in the JCPD Chief of Patrol’s office. He’s also linked to anti-LGBT tweets directed at Chief Kelly that were detailed in a recent Real Garden State report.

A spokesperson for the Fulop administration did not respond to an email asking who exactly ordered JCPD officers to state “COVID-19 Manpower Backfill” on their OT sheets.

Of note, this isn’t the first time Martinez has been associated with OT corruption amidst chaos. Then-Lt. Martinez racked up 147 hours of OT from 9-11-01 to 9-30-01, including a three-day span that he claimed to work 62 hours without a break, according to a 2007 Jersey Journal article.

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