Troop F detective collected more than $300,000 in each of the last three years
State Police Detective Lieutenant Thomas Coffey took home $351,774 last year, making him the highest-paid employee in Troop F, which patrols Logan Airport. But last year wasn’t the first time Coffey’s pay raised eyebrows.
He has collected more than $300,000 in each of the last three years, according to payroll records released Friday that were previously hidden from public view. In 2014, he took home $286,584. This year, as of Feb. 23, Coffey had already earned $54,661.
Coffey was the highest-paid member of Troop F in each of the past four years and the top earner in the entire State Police department from 2014 through 2016. Last year, he was only outdone by the department’s former superintendent, Richard McKeon, whose haul included a $161,688 buyout.
Landing an assignment in Troop F has long been considered a lucrative gig, but in recent years overtime payouts in the division have soared to new extremes, helping to boost the number of troopers earning eye-popping sums.
The number of troopers earning more than $200,000 a year has crept up steadily over a four-year period. Overtime pay has driven the compensation.
In total, Troop F employees collected a total of $9.5 million in overtime pay last year, or 73 percent more than they did just four years earlier in 2014, when they received $5.5 million, the data show.
A Globe report Monday detailed how neither the State Police nor the Massachusetts Port Authority, which pays for Troop F, had publicly filed information on payouts for the troop with the state comptroller since 2010. This week, amid public pressure, Massport provided records to the comptroller’s office, which posted them on its website Friday.
“Once troopers start pulling in these kinds of wages, it becomes very difficult to reverse because their standards of living become more and more dependent on overtime,” said Mary Z. Connaughton, of the Pioneer Institute, a conservative think tank in Boston.
She said the dramatic rise in overtime spending across Troop F hints at a systemic problem. “It would seem someone is not watching the shop anywhere near close enough,” she said.
Jennifer Mehigan, spokeswoman for Massport, said overtime costs have been driven up in part because of a heightened level of security since terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015.
State Police recently uncovered alleged overtime abuse in a different division — Troop E, which patrols the Massachusetts Turnpike — and is investigating the matter.
“That audit is ongoing, but to date we have found no discrepancies in Troop F or any other troop other than E,” department spokesman David Procopio said in an e-mail.
The 140-person Troop F division has long been on the payroll of Massport, an independent public agency that owns and operates Logan, some of the Seaport, and two other airports outside Boston. But the troopers are State Police employees, and the troop’s operations are overseen by State Police commanders.
State Police officials had said the records were Massport’s to disclose. Meanwhile, Massport officials considered work done by Troop F to be akin to services provided by a vendor.
Following the Globe report, officials announced Tuesday that in the future, Troop F will be paid directly by State Police, and Massport will reimburse the law enforcement agency in an effort to ensure records are properly disclosed.
The most recent disclosure of payroll data only accounts for several of the most recent years of the missing records. The remainder of the data will be released later, according to the comptroller’s office. Officials said that Massport switched payroll systems in 2014 so data for earlier years will take longer to extract.
The newly released records don’t provide a complete picture of how much individual troopers made each year.
Some troopers who appear in the newly released Troop F records also received additional amounts of pay for work they did in other divisions of State Police during a given year.
State Police have weathered a series of controversies in recent months.
Governor Charlie Baker on Friday said State Police plan to announce changes soon.
“I spent a bunch of time talking to the Colonel [Kerry A. Gilpin] and she’s working on a whole series of reforms that I think are exactly what the doctor ordered with respect to some of the issues with the State Police,” Baker said. “We’ll have more on that shortly.”