An Oregon Army veteran was fired from the police academy after he blew the whistle about police departments not paying recruits for all hours worked while at the state academy.
Daniel Ensley made it through all be three weeks of the Oregon Public Safety Academy before his sponsors at the Ashland Police Department pulled the plug on him. It was his dream and he would have been a 4th generation law enforcement officer in his family – like his father, grandfather and great grandfather before him, he told KGW8.
His offense? Alerting the state that cadets working over 40 hours a week in the academy were being underpaid by their respective agencies, particularly when it came to working overtime.
Initially contacting his supervisor at Ashland PD, he was told that “there is no expectation that you are to be compensated with overtime pay.”
Still feeling as if something was amiss, Ensley called BOLI, better known as the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. Initiating an audit, BOLI found that agencies were violating record-keeping laws, underpaying their cadets and that the trainees were working more than 40 hours a week.
“BOLI received a complaint from a trainee at the DPSST [Department of Public Safety Standards and Training] alleging that he was not being paid by his home agency for all hours worked,” BOLI said in a statement. “He stated that he was paid for a flat 40 hours per week. He stated that the DPSST required activities performed in addition to the 40 hours of instruction per week, including daily flag raising ceremonies and homework assignments (primarily report writing). We visited the DPSST and met with many high-ranking individuals there, as well as a handful of class coordinators and trainees. The Bureau concluded that 1) activities mandated by DPSST do tend to exceed 40 hours per week; 2) overwhelmingly, trainees are only paid for 40 hours per week. Therefore, we are advising 185 of the effected home agencies that trainees very likely are not being paid for all hours worked while at DPSST in violation of state and federal law. Additionally, because trainees have not been accurately reporting all hours worked, the agencies may also be in violation of recordkeeping statutes and rules.”
When Ashland PD found out, they cut Ensley loose.
“I was told I was released from law enforcement with Ashland PD for being a risk,” said Ensley.
However, the agency cited an incident where Ensley -a veteran of the 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy- cleared his firearm before storing, claiming it was grounds for his termination.
“They had mentioned an incident that happened a few months prior to that where I cleared my firearm and put it away. But that is exactly how I did it in the military and I was trained to do that in the military. There was nothing in the policy manual that addressed it,” said Ensley.
According to KGW, Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said he could not comment on Ensley’s firing.
Ensley still believes that APD fired him for exposing the agencies.
“I believe that that’s the risk. I was reporting something that was going on there in the Ashland Police Department,” said Ensley.
APD has agreed to comply with whatever guidelines they are given by the state regarding paying trainees while at the academy.
Ensley now plans on becoming an overseas contractor to make ends meet, despite an unwillingness to leave his wife and two toddlers for long periods of time.
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