The Lieutenant has sued the city and has been sued for misconduct, costing taxpayers more than his salary.
By Molly Keller and Will Meyer
NORTHAMPTON — As budget season comes to a close, with the City Council’s final budget vote set to take place tonight, Thursday, June 17, city data reveals that four out of five of the city’s top paid employees during fiscal year 2020 work within the police department.
The highest paid employee in Northampton in FY 2020 was Lieutenant Alan Borowski, whose gross salary, which includes overtime pay and off-duty detail work, was a whopping $184,372.78. In addition, Borowski has an active lawsuit against the city in which he is suing his superiors for damages to his career. The city paid $54,836.52 in legal fees after his union filed a grievance to have disciplinary infractions wiped from his record. Borowski received back pay and his previous suspensions were reversed.
According to court records reviewed by The Shoestring, Borowski is the only city employee who is actively suing the city of Northampton.
Further, Borowski has a history of misconduct that has cost the city tens of thousands of dollars. His use of force against Jonas Correia in 2013 cost the city’s insurer $52,500, and he is currently being sued by Benjamin Maddison for violation of Maddison’s first amendment rights, defamation of character, and emotional distress. Borowski was mentioned but not named as a defendant in Maddison’s original complaint, which we describe here, but since then, Maddison filed a motion to include additional officers in his amended complaint. The judge presiding over the case granted the motion in April 2021, so the defendants now consist of Lt. Alan Borowski, Captain Robert Powers, and Officer David Netto. Maddison is requesting $283,333 in damages from each of the three officers.
Other high earners include Lt. Grzegorz Korepta who grossed $150,694.08, Chief Jody Kasper at $149,692.73, and Detective Sergeant Corey Robinson at $149,299.93. To provide some contrast, the highest and second-highest paid employees of the Health Department made $126,383.89 and $77,020.64, respectively, even in the midst of the global public health crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
When addressing the role of overtime pay in their final report, the Northampton Policing Review Commission (NPRC) stated,
“Through salary, overtime, and detail pay, police officers represent the majority of the highest paid city employees, including many routinely making more than the Mayor. In addition to base salaries, the NPD has routinely paid approximately $250,000 or more in overtime pay per year, and officers have received thousands of dollars, sometimes upwards of tens of thousands of dollars in pay per year from police detail work. This represents, in the most extreme, an individual working 5,277 hours a year, or over 100 hours per week. Put another way: The average salary is $59,000 and ranged from $49,317 to $151,278. The range of overtime is from about $50 to almost $13,000 a year. Police details range from a low of about $50 to as much as almost $75,000. While we believe in a person’s right to earn a decent living, we see trends which seem to show a significant difference between base salary and actual pay. We are concerned about officers overworking, which represents potential danger to the community in that they are driving at high speeds and carrying weapons.”
This concern is not unfounded—in 2018, for example, a police car struck a pedestrian when responding to a request for backup for an altercation occurring in Pulaski Park. Email correspondence with Police Chief Jody Kasper has revealed that this car was driven by officer Andrew Kohl.
The NPRC report also states that other police departments have used overtime caps as a way to make significant cuts to police budgets, and recommends that Northampton implements the same types of policies while investing in a new Department of Community Care, which would take over many of the police’s responsibilities, thus reducing the size, scope, and necessary budget of the NPD.
Nonetheless, Mayor Narkewicz’s proposed FY 2022 budget addresses only a portion of the NPRC’s recommendations, despite telling city council on June 10th, 2020, that he intends to fully fund Commission’s recommendations. He in fact is proposing to raise the Police Department’s budget by 3%, and fund the Department of Community Care with just over $400,000, half of what the Policing Review Commission recommended as a bare minimum for funding.
According to Ya-Ping Douglass of Northampton Abolition Now, “The city is able to find $184,372.78 to pay officer Borowski, an officer with two lawsuits out against the city and a known history of violence, and yet they claim they cannot find another $450,000 to fund the Community Care Department. Where there is a will, there’s a way. Thus far, it seems the city leaders have not been willing to enact city policies and budget priorities that put Black Lives Matter beyond a lawn sign and into action.”
When requested to comment on officers’ high yearly earnings and the potential for a cap on hours worked by police, neither Chief Kasper nor Mayor Narkewicz responded to a request for comment.
The City Council voted 7:1 to approve increases to the police budget in first reading, despite objections from the public. Their final budget vote is set for tonight, Thursday, June 17, with time for public comment beginning at 5:30 pm.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to indicate that Borowski has sued the city once, not twice. The 54k figure was money they city spent on legal fees in an arbitration, not a lawsuit that he won. Borowski is currently suing the city, as the piece indicates.
Molly Keller is a new contributor to The Shoestring. She is a senior at Smith College and lives in Amherst. Will Meyer is co-editor of The Shoestring. Photo used with permission from Alden Bourne, NEPR.
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