• Starke police chief investigates his officers accused of double-dipping

    By: Russell Colburn , Action News Jax


    A local police chief is on the defensive following allegations that his officers are double-dipping. 

    Officers with the Starke Police Department are being accused of billing taxpayers while working an off-duty second job.

    In an exclusive interview, Chief Jeff Johnson told Action News Jax he will not resign, even if an investigation into the officers’ actions finds evidence of criminal activity.

    Johnson and his command staff have an exemption as salaried workers. He said no hourly officers can log the same hours with the city of Starke and the Vystar Credit Union, where officers do off-duty security.

    Action News Jax continues to look through thousands of hours of time sheets dating back five years. We've found at least 12 cases of alleged double-dipping by various Starke officers -- outside of the chief and his command staff -- totaling about 108 hours worked.

    Representatives with the city of Starke said the average officer makes $15 per hour, so that's more than $1,600 that may have been incorrectly billed to taxpayers.

    Action News Jax reporter Russell Colburn told Johnson about the findings.

    “Right, right,” Johnson said. “Well I'm glad you've got it, because I don't have it.”

    Johnson -- who's running for re-election next Tuesday -- said he's still in the process of tracking down those records.

    He believes this comes down to clerical payroll mistakes, nothing criminal.

    “I will talk to [the officers], there will be an investigation on it, and they'll be disciplined,” Johnson said. “Could [this result in] termination? Absolutely.”

    Johnson said if it comes to it, the officers involved may have to pay the money back.

    “We're going to find the problem, we're going to fix the problem and we're going to move forward,” Johnson said.

    The city of Starke is in the process of hiring an independent auditing firm to look into the Police Department's payroll.

    Action News Jax will let you know what that investigation finds.

    Next Up: