HPD Kingwood Under Investigation for Alleged Overtime Abuses

An anonymous source has chronicled to Hair Balls a recent history of overtime funding abuses by the Houston Police Department Kingwood Division.

The first, according to the source, occurred on May 22 during a private benefit for Sergeant Billy Ray Wilburn, otherwise known as the "Elvis Cop" due to his uncanny resemblance to The King. At the event, which occurred at Lake Houston Marina in Huffman, friends, family and colleagues gathered in support of Wilburn, who had been recently diagnosed with throat cancer.

The source explains that officers of the Kingwood Divisional Tactical Unit were ordered by an immediate supervisor to attend the benefit, where they chowed down on barbecue for hours. For this duty, they received full overtime compensation from Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) funding, says the source. (According to the City of Houston Web site, Houston City Council created this finance initiative in order to "attract new investment to an area.")

"Their presence was not required and they spent their entire shift eating barbecue...they all received overtime pay for the entire shift that was paid directly from TIRZ funding," says the source. "Their immediate supervisor, who had ordered them to attend the benefit, was also in attendance and he received overtime compensation for the entire shift as well."

The source also states that there has been an apparent misuse of TIRZ funds by HPD Kingwood Captain Bryan Bennett, a claim that seems to be supported following a Hair Balls public records analysis. According to an HPD overtime ledger (dated April through June 2011), Sergeant Jason Calley received, in some cases, as much as five times the amount of overtime pay compared to his colleagues.

The source says, "For the month of June 2011, Captain Bennett allowed Sergeant Calley to work bicycle overtime at his own discretion. These overtime shifts were never posted, never offered to other officers or supervisors, and were conducted secretly at the sole discretion of Sergeant Calley."

Bennett, who became Kingwood's captain in September 2009, and Calley could not be reached for comment. The Houston Police Department's internal affairs department is currently investigating these alleged incidents.

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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen