Rikers Island Department of Corrections (DOC) officers have been working an insane average of over 100 hours per week this year as overtime hours soar, according to data compiled by the city.
Rikers Island prison guards such as James Internicola have been forced to work some serious overtime to compensate for the number of officers retiring or calling in sick.
Meanwhile, violent incidents at the corrections facility continue to rise.
Internicola, 55, has worked 3,692 hours of overtime in addition to his regular shifts during this fiscal year, which makes him the most overworked city employee.
The veteran officer, who began working over two decades ago, has worked an average of 111 hours per week — or 16 hours a day, seven days a week — this fiscal year.
Records show that out of the 50 city employees who worked the most overtime in 2022, 44 were DOC officers and captains.
Internicola and a dozen others lead those with more than 3,000 extra hours each.
Michael Thompson, a correctional officer for 11 years, accumulated the second-highest number of hours at 3,617.
Benny Boscio, president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, said that officers’ shifts were so long that many chose to sleep in their cars in the Rikers’ parking lot between shifts in order to rest rather than spend time commuting.
“No other workforce in this city is forced to work excessive and grueling amounts of overtime, missing meals and rest, while also working in one of the most dangerous environments in this city,” Boscio said.
However, despite the enormous overtime, DOC staff are still not being compensated to the same extent as employees from other city agencies.
For instance, although Internicola’s workload was more than any other city employee took on in a decade, he still did not earn close to the amount earned by other top overtime earners in other agencies.
Internicola earned $151,096 in extra pay on top of his $92,073 regular salary last year.
In comparison, Julio Lopez, a supervising deputy sheriff for the Department of Finance, earned $255,999 from 2,216 hours of overtime in addition to his regular salary, bringing his total earnings to $410,553 for the year.
DOC spokesman Latima Johnson said that although the agency has made progress addressing its staffing shortage since Mayor Adams came into office, the department is still not where it wants to be.
“Correction officers have one of the toughest jobs in law enforcement, and many of those challenges were exacerbated during the pandemic,” Johnson said.
Before the pandemic in 2019, correctional staff worked a combined total of 3,153,573 overtime hours that cost taxpayers $181.8 million.
However, in fiscal 2022, overtime hours skyrocketed to 5,369,074 hours, costing the city $259.8 million.
Last fiscal year, city agencies spent a total of $2.44 billion in overtime compared to $1.79 billion the previous year and $1.87 billion in 2019.
A database of employee salaries listed Alexis Done, an ex-pension investment advisor in the Comptroller’s Office, as the city’s top overall earner at $445,078.