- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2002

BALTIMORE (AP) Police Commissioner Edward Norris' driver logged nearly a year of overtime in an 18-month period, raising more questions about the commissioner's management.
The driver, Thomas Tobin, is a central figure in a controversy surrounding Commissioner Norris' use of an off-the-books account to finance $178,000 in expenses, including meals and trips to New York. Mayor Martin O'Malley said last week that an independent auditor will investigate the use of the long-secret account.
Mr. Tobin was one of a five-member security and investigative detail that filed for $250,000 in overtime during an 18-month period, including $67,000 for Mr. Tobin, the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday.
The overtime payments were detailed in police records requested by the newspaper.
Some City Council members said the payments were excessive and called for a probe. Commissioner Norris said his detail of detectives protects him and his family in response to dozens of threats.
The police chief said he often works 12- to 14-hour days and goes into unsafe neighborhoods.
His detail also performs other important tasks, including rushing to shooting scenes and other incidents to give reports to headquarters. They also handle sensitive investigations, reporting directly to him, Commissioner Norris said.
Mr. Tobin, whose annual salary is $53,000, logged 1,228 hours, or 30.7 40-hour weeks, of overtime last year and 596 hours, or 14.9 weeks, in the first six months of this year. Most others in the detail, whose membership sometimes changes, earn more than $50,000 a year and thousands more in overtime.
Council members expressed surprise at the amount of overtime earned by Commissioner Norris' detectives.
"It's very troubling. Very, very troubling," said council member Kwame Osayaba Abayomi, chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee.
The overtime costs raise questions about Commissioner Norris' management style, Mr. Abayomi said, adding that the audit of the off-the-books account "might need to be expanded to include" the commissioner's office.
Commissioner Norris' five-member detail is one of the most extensive used by a Baltimore police commissioner, the Sun reported.
Overtime for Commissioner Norris' detachment is a small part of the department's overtime budget. The department exceeded its $11 million overtime allotment by $5.8 million during the last fiscal year.

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