WRAL Investigates

Schedules show Wake deputies worked long off-duty shifts

Posted May 11, 2010

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— Police officers and sheriff's deputies often work off-duty to make a little extra cash.

But WRAL News has discovered some deputies with the Wake County Sheriff's Office have been scheduled to work long, off-duty shifts with no break before the start of their on-duty shifts.

Deputies make about $30 an hour for jobs like providing security for a road construction project. For some deputies, that's double their hourly rate.

Sheriff Donnie Harrison said he supports off-duty work, under one condition.

“The way I feel about it is the deputies don't get paid enough as it is, so I try and let them work and understand that this is their primary job," he said. "We want to make sure that they are not tired when they come to work here."

Wake deputies’ schedules examined

After examining three months of off-duty schedules, WRAL News found 13 cases where deputies were scheduled to work off-duty before their shifts for the sheriff's office with virtually no rest time in between.

Most of the off-duty jobs were overnight, 12-hour shifts.

There were also three cases of possible double dipping, where deputies were scheduled to work off-duty while they were on the clock for the county.

Harrison said the schedules don't tell the whole story.

“It appeared that they had signed up to work, but they didn’t work and why? I can’t answer that,” he said.

Harrison said he spoke to each deputy in question. Each told him they didn't work the off-duty shifts they were scheduled for.

For off-duty work, deputies are paid by private companies which hire them, so there's no public documentation.

“I am glad that you brought it to our attention. This way it wakes us up to make sure we are doing what we are supposed to do,” Harrison said.

The Raleigh Police Department has a strict off-duty work policy. Officers are not allowed to work off-duty jobs six hours prior to their shift. There is also a set pay-rate for off-duty work. In the past, officers would negotiate their own hourly rate.

The new rules took effect last year after a group of officers got in trouble for working off-duty while on the city clock.

The sheriff's office is implementing a new system to better track off-duty schedules called “Cover Your Assets.” It can be used to signal scheduling conflicts.

John Midgette with the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association says regulating off-duty work can sometimes benefit officers.

“When you create a process you can more readily defend it and make it better for those who aren’t abusing it,” he said.

Investigator Freddie Hicks admits he's been guilty of working off-duty back to back with his regular shift, but says it hasn't affected his duties.

"You get used to shift work and late night work in law enforcement. You get used to long hours," he said.

26 Comments

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  • poohperson2000 May 13, 1:22 p.m.

    The truth is they are underpaid, but given the current environment that is not likey to change. But there is also the fact that these people carry firearms and the number of hours they work without a break should attempt to be regulated just as a long haul trucker driver's is. They carry weapons, and they operate motor vehicles. Regualations are in the best interest of the officer and the general safety of the public.

  • carolinarox May 12, 2:22 p.m.

    Well doggiekisses, here's an article prominently displayed on WRAL about memorial ceremonies for fallen officers. I had no trouble finding it.

    http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/7588090/

  • luckyladybug238 May 12, 1:13 p.m.

    Law enforcement is underpaid. Period. Starting salary in some parts of the state for law enforcement is $30,000/yr. It's as low as $22,000/yr for detention and other positions. I know this story is about Wake Co., but it's applicable elsewhere. This OD work is necessary for these people to live comfortable lives and be able to AFFORD to relax on their little bit of time off. There should be no need for these people to HAVE to work second jobs, but when they work 12 hours shifts, when else are they supposed to do the OD work? It's either before or after a shift. The people that put their lives on the line for us are expected to support their families on modest base salaries and have to work overtime at OD jobs to even think about putting money in savings, etc. And coaches at our Universities that the state contributes to make $1,000,000 or MORE a year. How is that right? Prioritize, we have to budget our little bit of money wisely, State of North Carolina, you should too!

  • ASU May 12, 12:31 p.m.

    ORMA::::::::::

    They are not using a STATE OWNED car. They are using a car that belongs to WAKE COUNTY. Know what you are talking about before you post.

  • OGE May 12, 11:38 a.m.

    It's the cops perogative whether they want to work off duty or not. No one is holding a gun to their head. It's called living within your means. I do not see why putting what these cops are doing in a bad light is such a mean spirited thing by WRAL. Their primary job is to serve and protect...not to be a bouncer at some night club. If the off duty work affects the primary job then it's time to cut back or say NO!

  • jonmac May 12, 10:54 a.m.

    I'm sure some of these folks do work OT to "make ends meet" but many work the OT because the money's good and they can have their toys because of it. I think we should all get paid as much as we can but we also must learn to live within our means and seperate our wants from our needs. Boats and motorcycles are nice(many leos that I know have them) but they are not necessities and I'm not going to cry with someone because they cannot afford them on their regular pay. I just wanted to bring a little realism to this discussion.

  • applesmith May 12, 10:13 a.m.

    Until all the Law EnForcement,Fire and EMS personel come together and unite over money and benefits.Corprate mangers and elected Officials will keep using us as there whipping post for budget cuts!!!!!! JUST FOOD FOR THUOGHT!!!!!!!

  • doggykisses May 12, 10:12 a.m.

    If officers were paid a reasonable salary for what they do each and every day then they would not have to work off duty work. I get so sick and tired of WRAL always trying to report on the suppose "bad" of our law enforcement instead of the good. How about 3 memorials that were held yesterday for our fallen officers? (2 in Wake/Raleigh, State Memorial in Kinston) Where was that reported? How about how many of these officers volunteer to partcipate in these memorials with NO compensation at all? No pay, Drive their own vehicle, etc. They do it because of their integrity and the honor of their fallen brother. Oh, did I mention then they go to work that night? How about reporting on the good of our law enforcement? These officers and their family sacrifice everyday so that we as a community can be safe. Who cares if they work off duty or not. Let these officers do what they need to do to provide for their family. Again, this isn't news. If they were paid like they should be it wouldn't be

  • hardwork919 May 12, 10:05 a.m.

    "Yet you still have time to post/read on GOLO? You must be at your primary job." homerJ

    LOL I'm glad someone else said it so I didn't have to...

  • vaulter May 12, 9:45 a.m.

    ORMA, if you don't know what you are talking about, then don't say anything at all. Deputies DO pay the county for the use of the vehicle/equipment/gas. Don't jump on the "bash all law enforcement bandwagon", it only shows your ignorance.

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