3 On Your Side Investigates: Overworked or Overpaid?

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 6:53 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Timesheets and records show a Jackson police officer claimed to work thousands of hours of overtime last year, bringing in six figures on a patrolman’s salary and triggering a personnel investigation in the process.

The records, obtained exclusively by 3 On Your Side, indicate Officer Torrence Mayfield commonly worked anywhere from nineteen to twenty-one hours on a daily basis, adding up to 363 days on the clock for 2021, which added up to more than 4,500 hours of overtime.

On August 29 and November 1, Mayfield’s timesheets indicate he took vacation days and did not clock in at all.

On two days in particular, Mayfield’s records show he worked 24 hours straight.

On average, 3 On Your Side determined Mayfield worked 18.5 hours each day.

“Once you get past that 14, [it gets] very dangerous for the officer in the community and a liability for the agency,” said criminal justice professor Kevin Lavine, who teaches at Jackson State University. “I was at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and we worked 12-hour shifts four days in a row. And I could say, by that fourth day, I can tell the difference between my energy level, my alertness, my responsiveness, and that last, especially the last few hours of that 12-hour shift.”

That’s after four days in a row.

How much did Mayfield make in all?

A 3 On Your Side analysis of city overtime reports and those aforementioned timesheets estimates his patrolman’s salary of $31,659 ballooned to $140,943 -- $107,000 of which was overtime.

For comparison, Jackson Police Chief James Davis makes $115,259 annually, according to city records.

Davis may have even known about Mayfield’s marathon shifts.

Section 300-4 of JPD’s general orders state an employee can earn a maximum of 20 hours of overtime in a two-week period.

Anything over that requires prior approval from Davis or Assistant Chief Joseph Wade.

Every one of Mayfield’s pay periods last year had more than 20 hours of overtime, averaging 8 times that.

It’s unclear who on the command staff was aware of Mayfield’s work ethic.

The timesheets also show his scheduled hours alongside his actual times clocked in and out.

That schedule – which had to be approved by a JPD supervisor – already had him working 17-hour days, 85 hours a week.

A supervisor would have also had to approve the time he worked over that amount, too, with eyes in human resources and payroll seeing how much money ended up being doled out.

It’s unclear how high knowledge of Mayfield’s overtime frenzy went.

3 On Your Side reached out multiple times to every member of JPD’s command staff, including Davis, Wade, and deputy chiefs Tyrone Buckley, Tiny Harris, Vincent Grizzell and Deric Hearn, asking questions about the approval process for overtime and the unbelievable amount of time this one officer claims to have worked.

While a few of those leaders did read our requests for comment, only Grizzell responded, referring us to City Attorney Catoria Martin.

Martin said our request for comment “concerns personnel matters currently under investigation,” and reiterated the city does not comment on personnel matters under investigation.

“That in-line supervisor being the sergeant at that level, he should say, ‘wait a minute, I’m seeing you in this precinct. You’re not leaving.’ At some point, I’m going to have to say, ‘Hey, guy, you need to shut it down, relax,’” Lavine said.

Lavine said he’s seen officers work those kinds of hours before, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

“There was a guy named Ricky Joe Simmons. He went on a domestic call, and a struggle ensued,” Lavine said. “And Ricky lost his life on a domestic violence call. The family assaulted him, the individual managed to get his weapon away from him. But when they look back at the hours he was working, I think [it was] somewhere in the area of 80 hours a week overtime.”

Essentially, Lavine said Simmons could not have been at his best when he responded to that call.

Mayfield’s timesheets by comparison show an average of 86 hours a week.

“We have a thing when we call it a military and law enforcement, situational awareness. That’s our lifesaver, we have to be alert, using your five senses at a key point where you’re sensitive to everything around you,” Lavine said. “But as you get sleepy, your situational awareness starts to shrink. And that’s where the danger comes in for the officer and for the community.”

Mayfield, who ran for sheriff of Hinds County last year and was once the police chief of Edwards, has talked to WLBT on several occasions,

For this story, 3 On Your Side reached out to Mayfield half a dozen times, starting three weeks ago, but he never responded.

Texts to his cell phone went unanswered, too.

Lavine says those kinds of hours worked – while surprising – are also indicative of a larger problem police departments all over the country are facing: low pay and inadequate staffing.

“The salary is a big reason for that. $31,000? When I was at JPD back in 91, the starting salary was $27,995,” Lavine said. “That needle only moved a few thousand dollars since 91? We’re making them make a dangerous choice.”

3 On Your Side also requested Mayfield’s timesheets for 2022 to see if JPD has since reduced his hours and paid an estimate drafted by the city of Jackson for those records.

On Thursday, the city clerk’s office declared our requests for those timesheets were exempt from disclosure, citing Miss. Code § 25-61-5, which doesn’t actually refer to timesheets at all.

That statute instead describes the process a public body must follow when records cannot be produced, not the specific reason why these records have been kept from public disclosure.

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