A Los Angeles fire captain is on paid administrative leave as the LAFD investigates how he was able to receive nearly $80,000 in additional compensation from the department in 2010. Captain Eric Vasquez was assigned to supervise time sheet recordkeeping, and is alleged to have found a way to receive compensation for roughly 23 weeks of vacation time plus his regular salary.
In 2010 Vasquez received $185,645, while in 2009 he received $168,494. The discrepancies were discovered when the department switched from a manual to a computerized time tracking system. LAWeekly took a sarcastic swipe at the LAFD over the story, suggesting that perhaps Vasquez had been “chalking up some extra hours on his caveman’s tablet” prior to the computer upgrade.
It goes without saying that much of the public believes the kind of financial abuse that is alleged here, is rampant both in the fire service, and in public employment in general. No doubt many earnestly believe it is the type of misconduct that is feeding the current economic crisis. We can say that such cases are a rarity – and indeed they are – but the damage to every firefighter from LA to NY when these stories are aired is incalculable. Once again, we are our own worst enemy.