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When top police brass were improperly overpaid by the city, they weren’t asked to pay the money back, and in fact, got significant raises. When it happened to a lower-level cop who was overpaid while serving in Afghanistan, the city ordered him to pay back every red cent.

Double standard? So says Master Patrol Officer Michael O’Harran, who says the city is trying to get him to reimburse nearly $30,000 it overpaid him while he was deployed in the Army Reserves. When MPD officers are called up to serve in the military, the city offsets their military pay to make sure their salary levels stay the same. O’Harran says the city only noticed that he was overpaid after he inquired about a pay increase he was supposed to have received. He says the overpayment was the city’s fault, and his wife didn’t notice the extra income being deposited in their bank account while he was serving abroad.

O’Harran, who makes about $70,000 a year and is his family’s sole breadwinner, says he can’t afford to pay the city back. He says the city has asked him to pay $50 per paycheck to reimburse the city, which would take several years longer than O’Harran plans on working as a cop to cover the $30,000 in extra pay.

Personally, LL thinks anyone who gets overpaid should repay the money. But it’s not hard to be sympathetic to O’Harran’s plight, considering what MPD has done with top officials in similar situations. LL chronicled how three top police officers got huge raises after the city found that they’d been improperly receiving both a pension and a full salary. And The Examiner has reported how Assistant Police Chief Alfred Durham got a pay boost after it was discovered that he’d improperly been given a longevity pay bonus (though an MPD spokeswoman says Durham “has reimbursed the city for any monies which he was inadvertently over paid.”)*

“It’s a huge double standard,” says O’Harran.

The Fraternal Order of Police Union has filed a complaint on O’Harran. The D.C. Department of Human Resources did not immediately responded to a request for comment. The FOP’s complaint, posted after the jump:[scribd id=97122893 key=key-pkfiigzlztmvub5suc9 mode=list]

*This post has been updated.