Local News

Officers objecting to proposed rule on off-duty work

Posted January 27, 2009 10:56 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Some Raleigh police officers are not happy about a proposed off-duty work policy that would limit their hours.

In 2005, a double-dipping probe found problems with officers working off-duty jobs while they were still supposed to be on patrol.

The draft policy would bar officers from working off-duty in the six hours prior to their patrol shifts.

About 80 percent of the officers in the department work off-duty jobs.

"A lot of officers rely on off-duty (work) because of the lack of overtime and lack of a competitive salary that the police department offers,” said Sgt. Rick Armstrong, with the Raleigh Police Protective Association.

Police Chief Harry Dolan said, "We want them to have some type of a rest period before. And I think it is very reasonable and very prudent, and I think that the citizens would want me to have a policy that would guarantee some sort of a rest period.”

The new policy would also change how officers are paid. Currently, they are treated as independent contractors. Under the proposal, businesses would have to treat them as employees.

Officials with the Police Benevolent Association and the Raleigh Police Protective Association, groups representing police officers, say it would be an added expense for businesses to do that and could lead to fewer off-duty jobs.

"We are going to try and set up a meeting with Chief Dolan to try and talk with him about some of these changes because there are some very serious concerns,” Armstrong said.

In May 2006, a routine internal police department audit of work records since January 2005 showed 104 officers compiled 150 violations, almost half of which involved working more than 14 combined hours a day on and off duty.

The department disciplined more than 100 officers for violating off-duty work policies, and six cases were turned over to the Wake County District Attorney's Office for review.

Sgt. David Murphy, a 27-year veteran of the Raleigh Police Department who retired in August 2006, was one of two officers charged following the probe. Authorities said the department and the North Ridge Country Club paid him for the same 29 hours of work.

Murphy was sentenced to 45 days in jail, suspended to one year on unsupervised probation. Murphy was also ordered to repay the police department and the country club $710.10 and to perform 29 hours of community service.

Lt. Charles Bryant pleaded guilty to three counts of larceny and was sentenced to one year of probation and 51 hours of community service and was ordered to pay nearly $1,700 in restitution and court costs.

Now, officers must submit a detailed report of their off-duty work every two weeks, and all assignments must come through the department. Also, businesses must pay officers with a corporate check for their security services and can no longer pay them in cash.

The chief said Tuesday that he is willing to listen to concerns about the new off-duty proposal. However, Dolan says the policy is a result of feedback from officers and other personnel.

The policy is scheduled to take effect April 15.