Officers One and Two immediately team up and
head for a donut shop located directly across the
street from a nightclub. Officers One and Two will
spend their entire shift between the donut shop
and the nightclub making certain no pretty women
become robbery victims while Officer One's originally
designated area of patrol goes unmanned.
Officer Three will spend most of her shift sitting in
her personal car studying for an upcoming exam for
a college course she's taking. Between chapters,
she'll be on her cell phone checking in with the
Officer Four will spend much of his shift sitting in
the back room of the Seven-Eleven watching the
Lifetime Channel. But... Officer Five will be the
worst. He'll simply go home for a late dinner and
nap before returning to end his shift.
While the above examples may seem extreme, it's
not as though they don't happen. While the first
four officers are clearly under performing, they're at
least present. Officer Five, on the other hand, is
simply a thief! While the first four officers could be
charged administratively for failing to properly
perform their duties, Officer Five can, and should,
be charged criminally for theft of the amount of
money paid to him during his period of desertion.
If you ever find yourself performing duties during
special overtime assignments, just remember that
you're a police officer. Some assignment duties
may be very specific while others will be general in
nature as in the example cited. Whatever the
circumstances may be, you're being paid -- at a
higher rate -- to perform the duties for which
Always remember that abuse of overtime is
corruption. While poor oversight and supervision of
overtime usage is nearly always the primary catalyst
for overtime abuse, it is the end result that lands
police officers in trouble. Corruption investigations
into overtime abuse frequently result in police
officers being indicted and charged criminally for
Overtime is one great benefit, and you have it
totally within your power to earn that money
honestly and conscientiously.
Believe it or not, there was a time when police
officers were treated much differently from everyone
else when it came to overtime pay. Thankfully,
those days are gone, and you'll enjoy the same
access to overtime pay, at time and a half, just like
people in other occupations and professions.
Up to now, it all sounds pretty good; however,
what management usually neglects when making
such deployments is supervision. They'll pay ten
police officers at time and a half for eight hours, but
they'll be too cheap to pay a sergeant time and a
half to supervise those ten police officers.
Supervision isn't completely neglected...the
sergeant in whose area the deployment occurs will
probably be told to supervise the deployment.
Of course, that sergeant who's designated has just
doubled his or her span of control. The simple
truth is, that deployment will receive very little, if
any, effective supervision. To alleviate the need to
use on duty officers to transport the deployment's
officers, the overtime officers are allowed to take
their personal vehicles to their area of patrol.
"While poor oversight and supervision of
overtime usage is nearly always the primary
catalyst for overtime abuse, it is the end result
that lands police officers in trouble."
~ Barry M. Baker
Daily overtime may well be available for special
patrol and enforcement operations. Sports
activities, demonstrations, and other large social
gatherings frequently provide the need for police
officers to work on overtime. You could join a
police department where all these activities are
frequent and numerous, and your opportunities to
earn additional income can be very beneficial.
If you do find yourself in a police department where
the availability of daily overtime is plentiful, your
good fortune could quickly turn painful if you do not
meet the requirements of your overtime
assignments. Whenever anything becomes plentiful
and routine, supervision and other safeguards and
oversight often become lacking. Whether
supervision is lacking or not, it will always be your
sole responsibility to perform your duties properly.
Your department will have written directives
regarding overtime, and you should make yourself
familiar with your responsibilities under those
A police department is experiencing a spike in street
robberies in a particular area of the city. Overtime
funds are available to place extra patrols in the
area. It has been decided to place police officers on
foot patrol since the area is not that large, and the
effectiveness of foot patrol is a proven tactic.
The ten officer deployment will literally saturate the
area. Besides presenting a deterrent presence, the
large deployment will ensure a rapid response to
any robbery reported.
The amount of overtime available to you will depend
on a number of factors. If you join a police
department which is well staffed, is not experiencing
a significant crime problem, and it is fiscally
responsible, your overtime will be limited.
Conversely, if your department is short on police
officers, crime is running rampant, and its fiscal
management resembles its people management,
you could have as much overtime as you can
handle. Of course, the health of the general
economy has a lot to do with the use of overtime.
When revenue is coming in, politicians are quick to
throw money at crime problems.
Your overtime pay will fall into two categories:
Court Overtime and Daily Overtime
As a police officer, you'll be making arrests, and
those arrests will result in court appearances. At
those times you appear for court when you're not
working your regular tour of duty, you'll be entitled
to overtime pay. Depending on the police
department and labor agreements, you'll receive a
minimum compensation probably between two and
four hours at time and a half. When your court
appearance exceeds the minimum, your overtime
will be calculated by some agreed formula if the
appearance continues in less than one hour
Police departments are always trying to formulate a
system where all, or most, of your court
appearances will occur when you're working your
regular tour of duty. In a jurisdiction where the
police department is small, and the court docket is
light, this is not an impossible task. However, the
bigger everything gets, the more difficult this goal
becomes. Courts usually do everything on their
own schedule with little regard for the wishes of a
Your police department may have different
designations for different overtime activities, but I'll
refer to all overtime other than court overtime as
daily overtime. Your daily overtime will probably
follow a standard calculating process minus any
minimum. In other words, if you work twenty
minutes past your regular tour of duty, your
compensation will be based only on that twenty
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