Sheriff's Office Overtime Report Suggests Possibility of Nepotism, Favoritism; Hendershott's Son Got Lots of OT Pay


A report by Maricopa County budgeters critical of the use of overtime at the Sheriff's Office says nepotism and favoritism appears to play a role in who gets extra cash for extra work.

News of the report made a splash on the front page of Sunday's Arizona Republic and seems to have foreshadowed today's news of an $8 million lawsuit by county jail guards. The Repub posted the report online, prompting a request for an investigation by the county attorney's office into who leaked it.

New Times has now obtained a draft copy of the report that adds a new wrinkle to the story. The draft conclusion warns that "further review is needed in order to rule out preferential treatment and/or nepotism in regard to overtime pay."

The draft report says auditors noticed "numerous familial ties" between higher-up types at the sheriff's office and lower-level folks who were getting a big share of OT dollars.

One deputy is singled out as a possible example: the son of Chief Deputy Dave Hendershott.

Scroll down for the relevant excerpt:


The "period reviewed" was from February to November of 2007, the months with the highest reported overtime pay by the sheriff's office.

The footnote to the above passage adds that "nine of the existing 19 detention captains, five of 19 law enforcement captains and six of 14 high-level administrators share last names with lower-level staff." However, it does not detail whether all of those possible family members are getting more overtime -- that's why officials want more review.

Examination of the detention officers' overtime (which was in the Repub's later draft of the report) in the same period seems to show evidence of favoritism. About 23 percent of detention officers received no overtime, while the bulk received OT pay for anywhere from 11 hours to 400 hours, with most on the lower end, naturally.

Then there were the lucky 36 of 2,028 detention officers (1.8 percent) who managed to pull in pay for more than 500 overtime hours each for that period. The pattern is even more pronounced when you're looking just at sergeant overtime. Let's hope these hard workers are actually good at what they do and not lounging around as their paychecks swell.

Also exclusively in the draft report we looked at is an interesting chart that shows the "more egregious examples" of non-law-enforcement and non-detention-staff overtime:



The report notes that some of these overtime hours represent management problems, while others suggest "legitimate safety concerns," such as the 86 hours of OT for a pilot in a single pay period. We also wonder what the media specialist was doing to earn those 50 hours of OT pay -- was it to give info at a legit law enforcement operation? Or was it for a silly "Joe Show" event?

With the county on the hook for millions of dollars in claimed back pay by detention officers who feel they got rooked, the issue of who did get the overtime cash will be cast with even more sunlight.

With this organization, scrutiny probably equals trouble.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.