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Fact vs Fiction: We Own This City episode 5 — were Baltimore officers lying about working overtime hours?

Jon Bernthal and Josh Charles as Wayne Jenkins and Daniel Hersl talking in We Own This Citty
Jon Bernthal and Josh Charles as Wayne Jenkins and Daniel Hersl talking in We Own This Citty (Image credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

In the last episode before the series finale, We Own This City covered a lot of ground. By the end of "Part 5," the US Department of Justice had a consent decree drafted, members of the Gun Trace Task Force were arrested and there was a sense that the rogue cops are finally about to see some real repercussions for their actions. With those overarching dynamics at play, there were of course some almost unbelievable levels of corruption portrayed.

One thing we especially took note of in this episode was the misconduct surrounding overtime pay. While the series has made it abundantly clear that a number of officers on the task force were illegal claiming to have worked overtime, the recent episode went into detail as to how elaborate the scheme of cheating the system was. However was this true? Were Baltimore officers effectively committing fraud on the taxpayer’s dime? 

Here’s what we’ve determined was fact and fiction for We Own This City episode 5. By the way, be sure to check out our previous We Own This City fact vs fiction pieces:

Were Baltimore officers lying about working overtime hours?  

Jon Bernthal, Josh Charles, Rob Brown, Mckinley Belcher III, Ham Mukasa in We Own This City

Jon Bernthal, Josh Charles, Rob Brown, Mckinley Belcher III, Ham Mukasa in We Own This City (Image credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

The Fiction: In episode 5, Detective Maurice Kilpatrick Ward (Rob Brown) sits down with the federal investigative team. He informs them that in terms of the overtime pay budget for Baltimore city cops, "with Jenkins, it was like we had permission to rob that fund."

Then in a flashback sequence, Ward speaks with Momodu "G Money" Gondo (McKinley Belcher III) and tells him that Wayne Jenkins told his subordinates one night to "put in slips" for six hours of overtime, despite them not having even worked a full shift. Later in the episode, Gondo brags about receiving $8,000 for one paycheck. Additionally, after doing their due diligence, the federal investigators noted that Jenkins himself was once paid for overtime, despite not even being present at work (he was vacationing in South Carolina).  

But were members of the Baltimore police force really committing this brazen level of fraud? 

The Fact: Sadly this is true. 

According to WBALTV 11 (opens in new tab), the seven officers charged in the racketeering case involving the GTTF unit were heavily involved in making fraudulent overtime claims. The list of perpetrators includes Ward, Gondo and Jenkins. All were convicted on the charge; most plead guilty, while two were found guilt in a court of law.

The Daily Mail (opens in new tab) paints a better picture of the crime being committed, by stating these officers were making an extra $8,000 to $10,000 a month on top of their salary in overtime. The site also gives a breakdown of the officers’ pay and bonus compensation over the course of 2016. 

Now for the purpose of this fact and fiction piece, let's zero in on Jenkins. The Baltimore Sun (opens in new tab) reports that at one time, Jenkins "earned" $170,000 annually including overtime. Thanks to the good people at Salary.com (opens in new tab), we have an idea that the median salary for a Baltimore City detective in 2022 is just over $69,000, with the higher end of the scale reaching close to $100,000. Considering this pay scale reflects the current rates and not those of 2017 when Jenkins was indicted, we’d say Wayne was being very handsomely paid.

Furthermore, Fox 5 News (opens in new tab) states that in 2016, Jenkins made $83,000 in overtime pay alone. And yes, he was actually vacationing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on one occasion when he claimed to be working extra hours doing police work.

We Own This City airs on HBO and HBO Max platforms on Mondays at 9 pm ET/PT.  

Terrell Smith has a diverse writing background having penned material for a wide array of clients including the federal government and Bravo television personalities.  When he’s not writing as Terrell, he’s writing under his pseudonym Tavion Scott, creating scripts for his audio drama podcasts. Terrell is a huge fan of great storytelling when it comes to television and film. Some of his favorite shows include The CrownWandaVision, Abbot Elementary and Godfather of HarlemAnd a fun fact is he's completely dialed into the TLC 90 Day Fiancé universe.