“Ramapo’s ex-police chief, who had been the highest paid local public employee in the state, collected more than $128,000 in overtime in his last 21 months on the job, payroll records show.
Peter Brower pulled in roughly $369,000 a year in total pay, according to data reported to the New York State and Local Retirement System. It’s unclear what factored into that number. He picked up more than a third of his overtime at community events, including a pumpkin patch, church meetings and weddings in New Square.
Under his contract approved by four of the five town board members, Brower was automatically paid overtime in four-hour increments for any portion worked. Overtime was added into his contract in 2014, having not been in his prior contract. Brower had been chief since 2007, retiring in September 2015 after 45 years with the department.
“You’re talking about someone who is in senior management in the local government collecting overtime,” said Kenneth Girardin, an analyst and spokesman for the Empire Center for Public Policy, a government watchdog group. “That on its own should have people wondering whether the town was being as cautious with public money as they could be.”
Brower previously came under scrutiny after The Journal News reported that he ran a private security firm on the side, using town resources.
Town Councilman Pat Withers, who voted in favor of the contract, said Brower served 45 years with the department and everything was done “through contractual negotiations.”
Brower’s contract said he could earn overtime for attending town board meetings, fire department meetings, parades, honorific events and other events.
Along with community events, about a third of his overtime was spent attending fire department, ambulance and emergency services meetings. About 27 percent of his claimed overtime went to town and village board meetings. The rest went to police business, including eight hours for cases and four hours for a snowstorm.
In May, the newspaper reported that Brower also ran security for Pierson Lakes, an exclusive, gated community of more than 1,000 acres in Sloatsburg with multimillion-dollar homes.
He testified during a deposition in 2014 that he used his Police Department secretary to prepare payroll and possibly used police department telephones for the job.
An overtime slip from Sept. 16, 2014 shows Brower was paid for four hours of overtime for attending a meeting of the Ramapo Valley Ambulance Corps. The meetings are typically held at 8 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month.
That same night, he stopped by a Ringwood (New Jersey) Borough Council meeting as part of his job at the security firm, to ask council members for help spreading the word about keeping all-terrain vehicles off the Pierson Lakes property, just over the state border.
His overtime arrangement would allow him to spend any portion of four hours at the ambulance corps meeting.
Councilman Yitzy Ullman had asked town lawyer Michael Klein to investigate Brower’s side job, but the town declined to take action.
Several other police chiefs in the area don’t receive overtime. Orangetown Police Chief Kevin Nulty, Clarkstown Police Chief Michael Sullivan, Rockland Sheriff’s Office Chief William Barbera and current Ramapo Police Chief Brad Weidel don’t earn overtime.
Barbera recalls working 110 hours total in a two-week period in 2012 during a sports competition at Rockland Community College and being paid as a salaried employee for 80.
He’s expected as chief to attend parades, legislative meetings and other events, he said.
“You need to adjust your schedule to accommodate it or you do it on your own time,” Barbera said.
Brower’s annual pension was calculated by the state Comptroller’s Office at $229,266 – the highest of any state pension for non-educators in the Lower Hudson Valley and the highest law-enforcement pension in the state. His overtime did not factor into his pension, the state Comptroller’s Office said.”
Read the complete Journal News story with links to their other coverage of Chief Brower and the Town Board’s accommodations to him here.