Houston Police Officers Used Ticket Scheme to Earn Overtime Pay

The Houston Chronicle shared the following.

Four veteran Houston police officers who collected nearly $1 million in overtime pay combined since 2008 were recently suspended for listing one another as witnesses on traffic tickets to help themselves get overtime for testifying in court, according to records obtained Wednesday.

From 2008 to the present, the four officers who specialize in writing tickets together were paid $943,000 in overtime, city payroll records show.

The punishments handed down Sept. 4 by Police Chief Charles McClelland range from 20 to 45 days off without pay, concluding a lengthy investigation by HPD internal affairs triggered by tickets issued in April 2011.

An audit of traffic tickets written by the four officers showed they “unnecessarily listed other officers on tickets issued to citizens, or (were) unnecessarily listed on tickets issued to citizens by other officers, after writing multiple citations,” according to disciplinary records.

As a result of the investigation, each officer admitted to breaking various rules, including failure to use sound judgment. They also acknowledged violating HPD rules against assigning themselves or other officers on citations “for the sole purpose of obtaining or accruing court overtime compensation,” the records state.

The documents do not detail the number of tickets the four wrote or how many times they listed each other as witnesses.

HPD public information officer John Cannon declined to discuss the facts of the ticket case and results of the audits.

$347,000 for 1 officer

The lengthiest punishment was given to Sgt. Paul S. Terry, 44, an officer since February 1994, who agreed to 45 days off without pay. Terry has four previous punishments, including a reprimand in 2000 for an extra job violation, a two-day suspension in 2002 for not completing a report on a call, and a three-day suspension in 2006 for falsifying records to show he checked city jail cellblocks during his shift.

Terry, reached at home, declined to comment.

Senior police officer Matthew L. Davis, 40, who became an officer in February 1997, agreed to a 30-day suspension. Last year, Davis was suspended for a day for improperly voiding traffic citations for a woman at the request of a Houston city official. He was reprimanded for causing many cases to be dismissed in municipal court.

Davis has earned $347,000 in overtime alone since 2008. He did not return calls for comment.

Police officer Steven L. Running, 41, sworn in as an officer in August 1998, also received a 30-day suspension. Running has four previous disciplinary actions, including a two-day suspension in 2003 for releasing a burglary suspect who falsely claimed he had permission to be in a burglarized residence, two minor auto accidents and skipping a municipal court appearance. Running could not be reached by phone for comment.

Senior police officer Kenneth L. Bigger, 39, who became an officer in March 1999, agreed to a 20-day suspension. In 2002, Bigger was suspended for two days for not filing charges against a suspect arrested for credit card abuse after he transported him to jail. Calls left at his residence were not returned.

Internal affairs began investigating the officers after there were apparent inconsistencies in two traffic stops that all four officers were involved in. In one stop, an officer drove himself to the city jail where a suspect had already been taken, but listed himself as a witness to one traffic violation he did not observe, his disciplinary record noted.

Last-chance agreement

The four officers agreed to the suspensions under a “last chance agreement,” which means McClelland agreed not to fire them in hopes of salvaging their careers.

In exchange, the officers give up their right to appeal the suspensions and signed documents acknowledging any another offense could result in termination.

Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officer’s Union, said defense attorneys often challenge citations if not all officers involved in the offense are not listed on the citation. “I’m confident none of those officers put (themselves) on it for the sole purpose of getting overtime,” Hunt said.

Anita Hassan contributed to this report.


It wouldn’t be much of stretch to assume that these officers also gave out a lot of unwarranted citations too, would it? -Kate



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    1. I’m glad these cops got caught!!! Shouldn’t have taken this long to figure this out, nor should an audit have been needed. The magistrate should’ve called the PD along time ago.

    2. Many times on this site, and other news articles, people like to point out pass punishments as if there was a “sign”.. Even though we seldomly know what they are. Or they’ll say that X cop has had X complaints filed against them. I’d like everyone to look closely at the discipline history. Suspended for missing a court date, minor accidents, letting a suspect go because he was a good liar. Hardly severe incidents.

  • rick

    fraud does pay

  • Mr. Bawkbagawk

    no mention of restitution i notice. welfare fraudsters have to pay back what they stole, why not cops. oh right, they are cops.

  • Tim

    The penalty is slap on the wrist compared to the money they made from taxpyers. Dishonest cops should have been fired

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  • Hey

    Great example of how Police wastes drains the city which city politicians usually do not audit anything from Police costs but they will be quick to raise taxes.

  • jtr

    I look at this a little differently than the abuse of power argument. This is theft. No one died, no one went to jail etc…
    The cops should pay restitution, and the leadership in the department and city should attempt to get their sh*t together. This is a failure of oversight. You can’t be paying people on the honor system. Espcially bad cops (and yes I do believe there are good cops).

  • Rusty Shackleford

    Where are the faggot cops who make comments here? Got nothing to say?

  • Steve H.

    Why is this such a big deal. Taxpayers don’t care how much leos get paid. Plus all the lawsuits get paid by insurance companies, so how cares if leos lie, cheat and steal.

  • 2minutes

    I would gladly ‘trade’ 45 days off without pay for $347,000; at that rate, I could be a millionaire (without actually working) in less than a year. So what if I have to steal the money? After all, there’s no downside, nothing’s going to happen if I get caught. Oh, wait, that’s only if I’m a cop. Must be nice to have such complete protection when committing crimes…

  • John Doe

    imagine how many people these 4 have framed for possesion of drugs.

  • Kaz

    What a BS punishment, those cops embezzle over $300,000.00 each. Then they send all three on vacation (oops I mean suspension.) Does everyone really think that 30 to 45 days without pay is gonna affect someone who made over $300,000.00
    Cops should have been fired and forced to pay back the money they stole.

  • shawn


    Often it is hard to know what an officer’s previous punishements and offenses where, as cops try to treat that as a private internal matter, even though the person in question has authority over the public.
    Many, like officer Harless of Canton OH do have significant red flag offenses in their past. He had years earlier been punished for taking a suspect out of view of the camera and beat him. He had numerous complaintsfor aggressive actions.
    Even minor offenses like falsifying a report, not really all that ‘minor’, can easily add up to show a lack of character in one trusted wih authority.

    These guys commited serious crimes to gain money. If this had been treated criminally instead of as an internal issue, then they conspired to defraud their local government for a huge amount of money. Anyone else, anywhere else, would be looking at prison.

  • Common Sense

    They found a loophole and used it to their advantange. Some cops routinely didn’t show for traffic court, these did. They wrote 1000-2000 citations per month each. They were all traffic cops, not complaint takers. What they did wasn’t criminal in the slightest. Its an internal mat

    ter and appears to be well worth the politically-motivated suspension(s). It didn’t break the bank either, Houston’s buget is over 4 billion per year and a cop making $30-70,000/yr in OT is not unheard of.

    Work smarter, not harder.

  • shawn


    Even their own bosses didn’t see it as a simple loophole. They were forced to agree their next offense would result in terminations without appeal.

    But it is interesting to see you think like these cops did. Even PSOSGT said they went too far.

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  • John Q Public

    They should have to pay back the overtime money in addition to the suspensions. $347,000 in 4 years is a helluva lot of overtime!

  • 86,750 per year in overtime?

    I bet a few thousand calls to the mayor or board could change that outcome….

  • KAZ

    Look up the deffiniton of embezzlement and then post something a little more educated than they found a loophole. My brother was charged with embezzlement once for getting a keg of beer and not paying the $30 deposit because he knew the cashier. He had done this several times in the past always returning the keg without getting the deposit back because he never paid it in the first place. However the owner of the store saw that a keg was sold without the deposit being charged which launched a police investigation. (Remember no actual money was stolen) He was questioned by police in the matter and released, and was told if they needed anything else they would contact him again. (no further contact was made) 2 years later when applying for a job that conducted a background check did he find out there was a felony warrant out for his arrest. He immediately got a lawyer and all charges were dismissed a week later. Cost to my brother was $1500.00 for the lawyer, and he didn’t steal a thing.

    The cops run a business racket that cost the taxpayers over a million dollars and no charges are filed, just goes to show the double standard the justice system has for the thin blue line.

  • certain

    Common is a stupid-ass troll who doesn’t have the comprehension skills most do, so give him a break. You have to explain it simply: The bad policeman lied and said he was a witness to something when he wasn’t actually even there, in order to collect overtime pay. So see, it actually was a criminal act, only it doesn’t get handled that way because the criminal who did it is also a cop.

  • underoath

    Wow. I don’t agree with how that was handled at all.

  • Steve in Iowa

    What’s the chance the cops will appeal the “un-paid vacation time” and get back-pay through arbitration?

  • WOLF


  • zon

    common nonsense, is there any level of corruption that you and your fellow cop groupies and the cops they toady to will justify as long as it is done by a cop.