Essex County Sheriff Coppinger Responds to Cousins Sick Time Abuse Scheme

What’s been done in the past at the Essex County Sheriff’s Office will stay in the past, Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger tells WHAV.

In the wake of the Inspector General’s criticism of the sick leave scheme allowed by former Sheriff Frank G. Cousins, Coppinger says his administration has a no tolerance policy for such abuse.

Under the guise of a nonexistent “Retirement Incentive Program,” Cousins encouraged employees nearing retirement to request sick time when they were perfectly healthy. The time off, authorized between 2009 and 2016, cost taxpayers an estimated $1.1 million.

Speaking to WHAV Wednesday, Coppinger vowed to conduct a thorough review of Cunha’s recommendations, which include an overhaul of the employee handbook.

“Abuse of sick time cannot and will not be tolerated during my tenure as Sheriff,” said Coppinger, who was elected in January 2017 after Cousins chose not to seek re-election. “It is not fair to employees who work hard and adhere to the rules and it is not fair to taxpayers who deserve diligent accountability.”

The Essex County Sheriff’s Office employs approximately 600 across its facilities, including the Middleton House of Corrections and a pre-release and re-entry center in Lawrence.