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Wednesday, January 26, 2000

Glitches snag pay for cops Union sues Detroit; state levies fines in records foul-up

By Wayne Woolley / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Payroll glitches have put the city of Detroit at odds with its 5,500 police employees and with regulators from the state Department of Consumer and Industry Services. As a result of ongoing problems with the bi-weekly paychecks for both officers and police civilians, a police union is suing the city; the state has fined the city $1,200 for failing to turn over time records. The pay problems range from the city's failure to promptly pay overtime and sick leave to incorrect payroll deductions. In one case, 152 police officers didn't get their regular paychecks following a November power outage that affected the payroll computers. "At any other (police) department in the country, people would have walked off the job with a payroll system like ours," said Marty Bandemer, president of the Detroit Police Officers' Association, which represents 3,000 officers. "Our officers put their lives on the line every day and shouldn't have to worry about their checks being shorted." Maura Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Department of Consumer and Industry Services, said her agency is investigating the complaints of four police employees. The state fines were imposed after the city ignored several of its requests for records. Police union officials said the problems began a little more than a year ago, when police payroll responsibilities were transferred to the Human Resources Department. In October, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Paul S. Teranes assigned Thomas Zdrodowski, a former city finance department official, to monitor the payroll system. A month later, Zdrodowski issued a report calling the payroll unit "a section in complete disarray" and warning of more widespread payroll glitches to come. He recommended additional training for payroll employees; more office space for the payroll section; and more experienced employees and supervisors to handle police payroll. City attorney Bruce A. Campbell said a settlement conference is scheduled for next month, and a settlement could include making some of the changes Zdrodowski recommended. Greg Bowens, spokesman for Mayor Dennis Archer, said the city wants to correct all of the glitches. "We want our police officers to be paid on time and in the correct amount," Bowens said.

-- Martin Thompson (, January 27, 2000

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