Raleigh, N.C. — 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."
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.