SLO prosecutors lose paid time off after whistleblower complaint
April 10, 2015
The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office is halting a longstanding practice in which prosecutors receive paid time off in exchange for taking on around-the-clock shifts in which they work on-call to assist law enforcement officers.
The practice dates back more than 30 years, but a recent investigation by the county auditor’s office found that it violates both the prosecutors’ labor agreement and the state constitution. That is because the practice of compensatory time off (CTO) is not included in the written labor agreement, which the county board of supervisors adopts.
“I cannot continue the past practice without the approval of the board of supervisors,” District Attorney Dan Dow said in an email to county auditor Jim Erb. “The authority to grant compensation or benefits to employees rests solely with the board of supervisors.”
Erb’s office began investigating the issue after receiving a tip through the county’s whistleblower hotline. On Wednesday, Erb sent a report to Dow informing him of the results of the investigation.
In Dow’s response to Erb, the current district attorney stated that prosecutors had been receiving nine days of CTO a year in exchange for two weeks of on-call duty. The on-call work primarily consisted of helping law enforcement officers with issues related to search warrants, Dow wrote.
Dow noted that the similar practices occur in several other California counties. However, those counties have adopted written memoranda of understanding.
The CTO practice in San Luis Obispo County may have begun between 1978 and 1984 under then-district attorney Christopher Mooney, according to Dow’s email. The paid time off arrangement spans the terms of four elected district attorneys.