Tuesday, October 31, 2000

FOP sues city over officers' military pay

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Cincinnati police union sued the city Monday, accusing the administration of cheating pay from officers who serve in the military reserves.

        The lawsuit says the city owes 32 officers a total of about $70,000 in improperly calculated pay, dating back to 1995. The city pays the officers' regular salaries while they are serving their country, but the officers then pay the city back some of the money they are paid by the military so they are not paid twice.

        The problem comes in with the way the city calculates what the officers should pay back. The Fraternal Order of Police says repayment has been demanded for money earned during what would be their off and vacation hours on the police force.

        That would be like the city asking for money from part-time jobs officers worked on the days they were off, said FOP President Keith Fangman.

        Two officers who returned in May from six months of duty in Kuwait have been ordered to repay the city almost $13,000 each. The men say they owe less than half that.

        The total might not sound like much when divided among 32 officers, Mr. Fangman said. “But I can assure you, to those individuals, it is quite a heavy hit.”

        Deputy City Solicitor Bob Johnstone said the difference of opinion is a matter of how each side interprets state law. It may be best, he said, to let a court decide.

        Council members Charlie Winburn, Paul Booth and Todd Portune disagreed. They all voted to tell the city administration to fix the problem. And Mr. Winburn asked for a full report by Wednesday on all the other city employees affected.

        If council orders the reimbursement fixed, the FOP will drop the suit, Mr. Fangman said.


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