Sergeant Who Fudged His Timecard Gets a Slap on the Wrist
Sgt. Joshua Dunbar was paid more than $1,000 for hours he didn't work. He received a training referral.
A Seattle police sergeant was compensated for nearly 11 hours he didn’t work, according to an Office of Police Accountability report released last week. Though OPA demonstrated that Sgt. Joshua Dunbar submitted false timesheets and violated SPD policy, the agency didn’t sustain dishonesty allegations—a fireable offense. Dunbar only received a training referral.
The investigation stems from a special overtime detail Dunbar supervised. Under an ongoing agreement with the SODO Business Improvement Area, the department details a group of officers to do emphasis patrols in SODO after their regular shifts. SODO BIA, a city-affiliated nonprofit, pays for the overtime costs of these officers at time-and-a-half rates.
[Dunbar] was only entitled to a total of 1 ½ hours (15-minutes times six shifts) paid break time, rather than the 12.25 hours he took
Dunbar’s timesheets showed that he worked full regular shifts plus another six hours for SODO BIA. However, a review of the CAD records and surveillance videos found that Dunbar routinely left an hour or more before his shift ended.
On July 25, 2022, Dunbar was captured on South Precinct surveillance cameras leaving in his personal vehicle four hours before his SODO BIA shift ended.
Dunbar claims that he had to leave due to illness and simply forgot to amend his timesheet. He brought a doctor’s note to his OPA interview.
On three other days, Dunbar left at least two hours before his shift was set to end. He explained that he had “stacked” 15-minute paid breaks he was entitled to under labor law and the SPOG CBA and used them at the end of his shift.
Those numbers don’t add up, as OPA noted in its report. OPA tallied 12.25 unworked hours for which Dunbar was compensated.
The OPA wrote that Dunbar “was entitled to, at most, a total of 45 minutes (a 30-minute lunch and 15-minute rest) of break time per six-hour overtime shift. However, policy clearly states lunch breaks are uncompensated. So, [Dunbar] was only entitled to a total of 1 ½ hours (15-minutes times six shifts) paid break time, rather than the 12.25 hours he took.”
OPA referred it to SPD for criminal investigation, and detectives found no crime. The City Attorney’s office likewise declined to prosecute, stating it “had no history of prosecuting time theft absent unusual circumstances.” The OPA added that it found “sparse examples of time theft prosecutions, and those cases involved more egregious violations.”
SPD Officer Michael Stankiewicz was prosecuted for felony time theft in 2017 after it was found that he was paid for 55 unworked days totaling around $24,000. In a plea deal, Stankiewicz was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and ordered to pay roughly $18,000 in restitution.
Dunbar makes $66 an hour as a sergeant, so his overtime rate would be $99. Multiplied by 10.75, that comes out to over $1,000, which would be second-degree theft, a felony, if he were convicted in court.
As the sergeant in charge of the SODO detail, Dunbar was responsible for the timesheets for the other officers. Officers Jeffrey To, Juan Ornelas and Dane Hagan all submitted timesheets for hours they didn’t work, though it added up to a few hours across six shifts.
All officers claimed they were “stacking breaks” and that leaving 45 minutes early with supervisor approval was “customary” in patrol.
Even if this is a patrol custom, OPA argued that it’s inconsistent with WA state law, which states that a lunch break is unpaid and cannot occur more than five hours after the start of a shift. Furthermore, SPD policy states that officers must request their paid 15-minute breaks, and none of them did.
OPA found that everyone involved violated policy but sustained no allegations. The agency wrote that it was “inclined” to sustain allegations against Dunbar. However, they argued that a training referral was more appropriate because SODO BIA “expressed overall satisfaction with officer responsiveness and its general arrangement with the Department.”
In previous cases like this, officers had to forfeit equivalent paid leave time to make up for the unearned income. Dunbar did not.
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