ST. PETERSBURG — Three lieutenants responsible for supervising the police officers who patrol the city were found to have been faking their work hours instead of showing up for duty on time.
In some cases, the watch commanders submitted time sheets stating they were working overtime while their police cruisers were still parked at home.
That’s according to an internal St. Petersburg Police Department investigation. A command review board examined their cases this week and on Wednesday demoted two of the lieutenants back to patrol officer. The third lieutenant retired early.
"It’s a disappointment," police Chief Anthony Holloway said. "It’s frustrating to know that with all of the experience that they had, they would get that lazy or that complacent to not show up to work on time."
Lt. Dennis Bolender, 52, had planned to retire in the fall but chose to retire this week before his case was heard, officials said. Lts. Cynthia Davis, 54, and Cleven Wyatt, 51, were both demoted.
Bolender had been with the agency since November 1986 and became a lieutenant in 2005. He made $110,614 annually.
His personnel file contained a few minor reprimands. One from three decades ago was similar to his most recent offense. In May 1988, a sergeant chastised Bolender for leaving his shift early at 6:51 p.m. instead of waiting until 7 p.m.
"I apologize and will see that it does not happen again," Bolender wrote in a response to the complaint.
Davis made $105,768 a year. She joined the department in June 1996 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2016. There were no disciplinary letters in her personnel file.
Wyatt was earning $110,614. He was hired in October 1987 and had been a lieutenant since 2006. His file shows he has been disciplined for a few minor incidents such as failing to turn in an arrest report, pointing a gun at a subject who was deemed not to be a threat and failing to appear in court for a case.
Both former commanders will now make $79,518 a year, and the pay cuts will affect their pensions.
As watch commanders, the lieutenants were responsible for leading a team of about 10 officers who patrol sectors of the city. The internal investigation found that when the three lieutenants were supposed to be on duty from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., they were instead still en route, driving to and from their houses. Two live in Tarpon Springs and another lives in Lithia.
The internal investigation started after a tipster reported in January that the three lieutenants were not correctly checking in for work.
Investigators then examined nearly six months worth of data collected from Aug. 1, 2017, to Jan. 28. They looked at payroll systems, as well as laptop and vehicle trackers. They also analyzed paper check-in and check-off sheets, and the entry swipe card system at the department.
Then the command review board met this week and sustained complaints of falsification and improper procedures against Davis and Wyatt.
"They did not deny it," Holloway said. "They just said they were sorry."
To prevent future incidents, the chief said he created a new policy in which watch commanders must meet the incoming shift’s commander before leaving work.
Times staff writer Zachary T. Sampson contributed to this report. Contact Jimena Tavel at [email protected] Follow @taveljimena.