Share this article

print logo

Placed on leave twice in three months, Lockport police captain retires

A Lockport police captain who had been placed on leave twice in the past three months left the city payroll as of last Thursday, Lockport Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey said.

Capt. Brian W. Wentland had been chief of detectives at the Lockport Police Department until November.

Today was the deadline set for Wentland, a 20-year veteran, to retire or face further potential action from the civilian board that oversees the department and approves all personnel moves. A scheduled meeting of the city Police Board has been canceled.

Wentland was placed on leave after complaints about his handling of a job interview with a candidate for a patrol officer position, and then again in a dispute with Police Chief Michael F. Niethe over an overtime claim.

Niethe transferred Wentland from detective captain to training captain after the eight-day unpaid leave in November.

The Police Board placed Wentland on leave again after a closed-door hearing in late January over a claim for four hours of overtime on Oct. 21, which was a scheduled day off for Wentland.

Wentland was called at home about a case and gave instructions by phone, city officials said. He did not go to Police Headquarters or the crime scene.

Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano has said the police union contract requires officers claiming OT to actually come to the office. Niethe at first approved the claim for about $275 – his initials are on the slip – and then changed his mind about it after receiving a tip about the circumstances.

"I do not see any evidence of a systematic scam," Niethe said after The News examined overtime slips submitted by detectives in 2016 and 2017. "Was there a chance that someone could have slipped something past me? Yes."

The Buffalo News obtained the overtime slips through the Freedom of Information Law.

Robert L. Boreanaz, the union's attorney, last month accused Niethe of  "running roughshod over the collective bargaining agreement."

Neither he nor Wentland could be reached Monday.

The Police Board and Boreanaz agreed to delay further action in the matter until today, but Ottaviano said last month that Feb. 26 would be "most likely a retirement date for Mr. Wentland. We are affording that opportunity if he wants to retire."

After its FOIL request, the News reviewed Wentland's overtime claims for the past two years. He claimed 562.5 hours of overtime in 2016 and 496.75 hours in 2017.

The city's 2016 figures showed Wentland was paid $133,361 that year, which was $54,639 above a base salary of $78,722, counting overtime and all other compensation in the police contract.

The city has yet to disclose equivalent 2017 figures, but The News calculated that based on time-and-a-half for the 2017 OT claims and a 3 percent raise in hourly pay, Wentland would have earned about $34,350 in OT.

The Police Board asked the Common Council to hire an outside firm to audit Police Department overtime, and City Clerk Richelle J. Pasceri said the city is seeking quotes from auditing firms.

"I welcome an audit. I think it should happen every year," Niethe said. "When I became chief of police (in 2015), I asked Finance Director Scott Schrader to audit the accounts I administer. He did, and found no signs of any wrongdoing."

There are no comments - be the first to comment