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DeKalb chief’s comp time: Dinner … and a movie!
One Sunday last April, then-DeKalb County Police Chief Terrell Bolton suited up for a three-hour Buckhead dinner honoring two slain officers.
On a Saturday night several weeks earlier, the chief spent three hours at the Atlanta premiere of the new movie by Tyler Perry, “Meet the Browns.”
And, for the 2007 holiday season, Bolton took three hours to shop for donations to the Tupac Shakur Foundation’s canned food drive.
DeKalb County taxpayers paid for it all — and much more.
Time sheets obtained under the Georgia Open Records Act, many written in Bolton’s own hand, show the chief regularly claimed comp time for routine tasks on evenings and weekends: attending public meetings, speaking to homeowners’ groups and making phone calls from home. Lots and lots of phone calls. The records show most of the time — 448 hours in late 2007 and 2008 – was never approved, costing DeKalb taxpayers more than $35,000, based on Bolton’s pay grade.
DeKalb County’s newly elected CEO, Burrell Ellis, fired Bolton in February for comp time abuses and other infractions. DeKalb prohibits police supervisors from collecting comp time or overtime pay.
Despite the policy, Bolton insists all the time was approved. Ann Kimbrough, who was then-CEO Vernon Jones’ chief of staff, signed off on weekly comp time request for the chief’s first seven months on the job. None of the requests explained what the extra work was for.
But in October 2007, Kimbrough stopped signing the time sheets. Bolton began recording his extra hours meticulously – often hour by hour, with an explanation for each occasion – and gave the paperwork to an aide to keep track of.
Investigators for the DeKalb Sheriff’s Department secured the records and turned them over to the county attorney’s office earlier this year while Bolton was on sick leave, shortly before his dismissal.
Bolton worked late over two days in January 2008 after Officers Eric Barker and Ricky Bryant were shot and killed in a parking lot. He took 18 hours’ comp time.
He stopped by two churches one weekend in March 2008. Five and a half hours’ comp time.
He was irate last November when Ellis released a critical “transition report” regarding issues in his department. He stayed up almost all night – until 5 a.m.! – working on a rebuttal. Twelve hours’ comp time.
Bolton seemed to plan some comp time in advance. On one time sheet from February 2008, he jotted down two hours for a radio interview and 2.5 hours for “staff calls.” Then the notes were crossed out with a note to an aide: “Pls omit … didn’t do.”