The Cape Cod Times pulls public records to determine exactly how much Barnstable County towns are paying for police details at road construction sites. According to reporter George Brennan:
While more than 75 percent of those bills were paid by private companies and utilities, Cape towns shelled out at least $400,000 to their local officers for town projects like roadwork, records indicate.
The police chief for the town of Barnstable, Paul McDonald, defends the practice of paying off-duty officers to direct cars around traffic cones:
"We can double the size of the force on the streets with police details," he said. Those officers are trained as first responders and can react quickly in an emergency, he said.
"Several years ago," a police officer on a detail rescued a child being bitten by a dog, Brennan notes as an example. But the state's best-known tax watchdog still isn't convinced:
"Police details are the poster child for public outrage and correctly so," said Barbara Anderson, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a longtime critic of details. "People are losing respect every time they pass a police officer doing a detail."