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Hempstead police subject of investigation, labor department official says

The U.S. Department of Labor's investigation of the

The U.S. Department of Labor's investigation of the Hempstead Village Poilce Department is limited to the past two years, according to copies of a letter the agency sent to police officers last month. Credit: Howard Schnapp

 The U.S. Department of Labor is investigating the Hempstead Village Police Department under the Fair Labor Standards Act, a spokesman for the federal agency said.

"The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has an open investigation with the Hempstead Village police department to determine compliance" with the act, spokesman Ted Fitzgerald wrote in an email.

The law sets federal standards on minimum wage, overtime pay and labor conditions in the public and private sector, according to the Labor Department website.

Fitzgerald declined to provide additional details on the investigation.

“The Division does not confirm the reason for an investigation but it may initiate inspections on its own or in response to complaints,” he wrote.

Mayor Don Ryan wrote in an email sent by his spokesman that the village is cooperating with the federal agency in the probe.

"Since it is an ongoing investigation we have no information to share at this time," he wrote.

Hempstead police officers received letters from the federal agency in connection with the investigation last month, said Chris Giardino, president of the department’s Police Benevolent Association.

The Oct. 19 letter states that the Labor Department is "making an investigation" of the village police department, photographs of the letters reviewed by Newsday show.

“In doing so, it is customary to ask some of the present and former employees for certain information by direct correspondence,” the letter continues. “The fact that we are asking for this information does not imply that this firm has violated any law.”

The probe is limited to the past two years, according to the copies of the letter, which asks officers to answer questions about hours worked, overtime pay, meal breaks and uniform-change policies.

Giardino said at least two dozen officers told him that they have received the letters.

There are 123 police officers on the force, including three chiefs.

Giardino said he did not know what triggered the investigation.

“I don’t see how it could hurt a police officer or somebody to answer the questionnaire,” Giardino said.

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