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Policy changes how off-duty Raleigh officers are paid

About 80 percent of the officers in the department work off-duty jobs. A new proposal could tighten limits on the number of hours they can work off duty.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A new policy taking effect on Wednesday changes the way Raleigh police officers are paid for off-duty jobs.

Currently, they are treated as independent contractors. Under the policy, businesses must treat them as employees.

Officers will be paid $35 an hour for new off-duty jobs. The amount is $10 more an hour than what off-duty officers get paid working at the RBC Center.

“I think that it is a fair and reasonable rate of pay for the highly, trained professional that they are,” Police Chief Harry Dolan said.

The rate of pay for current off-duty jobs may continue until Jan. 1, 2012. Those jobs will be grandfathered into the new policy.

There will be a minimum of three hours of pay for all new off-duty jobs and officers are barred from working off-duty in the six hours prior to their patrol shifts.

“It is reasonable. We want you to have some amount of rest before you come to work,” Dolan said.

Businesses that hire off-duty officers will have to pay $25 per 12-hour shift to have a marked police cruiser at their location. Dolan said that amount covers the cost of gas and wear and tear on the vehicle.

The North Carolina Police Benevolent Association is concerned about the new policy. Executive director John Midgette said the group is upset about a section requiring officers to notify their secondary employment coordinator of any real estate they own or have financial interest in other than their primary residence.

Midgette said the group is also concerned about a section requiring businesses to have liability insurance in $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate. The businesses must also be able to provide $500,000 worker's compensation coverage.

Midgette said the insurance requirements are an added expense that may hinder the opportunities for off-duty officers. A PBA lawyer is reviewing both sections.

Downtown restaurant and bar Hi-5 is one of many businesses in the area that hires off-duty officers to work security.

“People walk in, they see an off-duty officer and they know they are not going to act up,” Hi-5 general manager Alan Marks said.

About 80 percent of the officers in the department work off-duty jobs. In 2005, a double-dipping probe found problems with officers working off-duty jobs while they were still supposed to be on patrol.

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.