LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles traffic officers were discovered earning taxpayer money while slacking on the job, according to CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein.
Los Angeles Department of Transportation officers are tasked with moving the flow of cars and enforcing traffic laws. It’s a job they say gets tougher all the time.
Last month, DOT employees appeared before the City Council to complain about their working conditions.
“The rank and file has lost confidence in our general manager,” one man said.
Meantime, CBS2’s hidden cameras rolled as some traffic officers goofed off while on duty.
Goldstein reported that Officer Gabriel Aguilar made more than $86,000 in last year, including more than $28,000 in overtime.
On many work days, Aguilar was at his Sylmar home for hours.
On one occasion, he was at home for just under two hours in the middle of a shift.
Three days later, Goldstein caught Aguilar at his home for two hours.
One day, Aguilar came home twice for a total of almost four hours.
On Nov. 1, Aguilar’s vehicle was seen at his home at 10:20 a.m. when his shift had started at 7 a.m.
Three hours and 10 minutes later, Goldstein confronted Aguilar when he finally left his residence.
“You’ve been working hard in your house? You’ve been in your house over three hours,” Goldstein said to Aguilar.
“I was on my lunch break, sir,” Aguilar said.
“Three hours on your lunch break? Your car has been here since 10:20! Yes, sir, we’ve been taping it,” Goldstein noted.
When further pressed, Aguilar said, “Have a good night.”
Goldstein reported the Aguilar wasn’t the only DOT employee not patrolling the streets.
One officer came home numerous times and parked in the alley behind his house during work.
Another officer was seen shopping at Target while on duty. When he left, he wrote a quick ticket on a car parked outside the store and then went to Costco, where he stayed for almost an hour.
A male officer was caught parked on the side of the street for hours at a time, seemingly doing nothing. He then wrote a couple of tickets.
Goldstein witnessed two officers on two occasions starting their shift by having breakfast for an hour.
When they left the eatery’s parking lot, Goldstein followed Officer Trevor Heerman in car 01871.
Heerman wrote a number of tickets, but then went to a deserted parking garage in North Hollywood twice in the same day.
He sat in his car both times and never got out to do any kind of official business.
A few weeks later, Goldstein caught up with Heerman. He told the officer that he was seen hiding in a parking garage for a number of hours.
“I don’t work in the North Hollywood area,” Heerman said.
Heerman continued to deny he was in the garage even after seeing the CBS2 video.
“It’s not my car,” he said.
Asked if it’s proper procedure to hide out in a parking garage while working, Heerman said, “No comment. You can talk to my supervisor.”
Goldstein showed DOT Chief Gregory Savelli the video of Heerman.
“That’s completely unacceptable. It irks me, and I’m both their boss and a taxpayer,” he said.
Savelli said the department is looking into a GPS system so it can keep track of officers’ whereabouts. He added that the traffic cops may face discipline for a “neglect of duty.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti didn’t mince his words when he was informed about Goldstein’s investigation.
“This doesn’t just anger me as a mayor, this pisses me off as a taxpayer,” Garcetti said.
Last week, DOT general manager Jaime De La Vega resigned from his post.