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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -
A Baton Rouge Police sergeant is suspended from the force without pay after an Internal Affairs probe.
At issue is why he called in sick to his police job, but still showed up at his many off-duty jobs.
With every pinned badge, every man and woman is officially deemed police officers. With the uniform, comes the responsibility to uphold every law and department policy.
"What we have is an officer that we found in violation of policy and procedure," said Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White.
Chief White said his Internal Affairs division investigated Sergeant Dave Mays, a 23-year veteran of the department.
The I-team examined their findings. Internal Affairs said they uncovered more than 70 different times where Sgt. Mays was paid by the city to appear in court for various court cases. At the same time, he was also being paid for off-duty detail assignments.
"When he left that employer, and if he did go to court, he's supposed to deduct that time and the money due him," said Rafael Goyeneche, president of Metropolitan Crime Commission, a non-profit group based in New Orleans that has conducted scores of investigations into allegations of police misconduct.
We asked him to take a look at the case, including another major part of the investigation into Sgt. Mays.
"He works nights, so he would call in sick at night and work his extra duty in the day," said Chief White.
Internal Affairs said it found mays "violated department policy" by calling in sick for his job at the police department, but turning around and showing up for work at extra duty jobs he had scheduled after his police shifts were over.
They outlined four consecutive 10-hour shifts, or Mays' entire workweek, where that allegedly happened last fall.
Saturday, September 17th for example: records show Mays clocked in at the Housing Authority at the same time he should have been working his overnight shift at the police department.
Other days, investigators said he put in for sick time at the department, but still showed up and got paid by other employers, for nearly 35 hours of extra-duty jobs..
Those places being Advance Baton Rouge's Lanier Elementary school, Ardenwood Apartments, the Housing Authority, Oasis Christian Church, Baton Rouge General and more.
He told investigators he was not personally sick, but took sick time to help care for his son who had a broken wrist.
"When you have a police officer that is being untruthful, that is milking the system, in this particular instance, is violating internal rules and potentially also violating some of the criminal laws that he took an oath of office to uphold, then that undermines the public's confidence in a police department," said Goyeneche.
"You can work 10 years to build a reputation of an agency and an errant officer can bring that reputation crumbling down in 10 minutes," said Chief White.
Chief White reviewed the case, and records show, he wanted Mays to resign or face possible termination.
In January, Mays lawyer wrote a letter to the chief saying Mays denies intentionally violating any departmental policies or state law and "declines your offer to resign."
The next month, both sides agreed to a punishment. Mays received 90 days without pay from the police department and was banned from doing any extra-duty jobs for a full year.
As for the department's extra duty policy, Chief White said it has since been revisited and revamped.
"The changes are oversight. We're building additional oversight. We're building a software program so we can interface with payroll and extra-duty to determine if there are any other cases like this," said Chief White.
"Working a detail is a privilege, not a right, and your primary purpose is as a police officer," said Goyeneche.
In a statement through his attorney Thursday afternoon, Sgt. Mays said he had permission from all his private employers to stay on the clock with them while also appearing in court.
Also in a statement to the I-team, one of those private employers, Advance Baton Rouge, said that is not true.
Chief White said there could be possible criminal wrongdoing here based on payroll fraud, but he said, so far, none of the private employers have asked criminal charges be pursued.