Security gigs net San Francisco cops big bucks

It may not be the $100,000 question, but it’s close: How do San Francisco police officers nearly double their pay while not doing their day jobs?

By being on hand to watch over San Francisco’s famous party animals, whether it’s a ballgame, a block party, a bridge closing or the Zazzle Bay to Breakers — events that translate into big bucks for off-duty police officers when they rack up tens of thousands of dollars in time-and-a-half pay on top of their regular salaries and overtime.

Click on the photo at right to see the SFPD's top overtime earners and how the spending breaks down.

It’s a good gig if you can get it, and the line extends far out the door.

Last fiscal year, a total of 1,367 police officers logged 122,899 hours and earned a total of $9.68 million in what is known as 10B work, a reference to the city administrative code section that allows outside entities to hire police officers for security and traffic control. Events and construction work require city permits, which sometimes mandate the employment of a certain number of 10B officers.

It’s the event organizers or developers who foot the bill, not the taxpayers. Sometimes the number of 10B officers is required by The City, and in other instances organizations such as the Giants and 49ers pay to have additional 10B officers because they prefer to have uniformed cops on hand as opposed to private security.

Police officers are paid the department overtime rate for 10B work — which is time-and-a-half — despite the fact that it is actually “moonlighting,” as one police officer described it. In addition to logging 10B hours, cops also can work departmental overtime.

Last fiscal year, 27 officers earned at least $40,000 in 10B pay — which was in addition to salary and department overtime. One sergeant earned a high of $82,659 for working 894 hours, which was on top of his $128,531 base salary. The next-highest 10B earner clocked in 859 hours, earning $79,514 on top of the inspector’s $129,086 base salary.  

The Police Department has imposed rules to prevent abuse of 10B hours and ensure that officers are not too fatigued for regular duty from such work, according to police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza. Under the rules, an officer can work up to 40 hours per two-week pay period of 10B and regular department overtime. And an officer can work no more than 14 hours per day.

Asked if logging nearly 900 hours in 10B time was excessive, Esparza said that as long as the parameters are being followed, “that’s not a concern.”

Overall, 10B pay was down last fiscal year compared with the previous year by 16,083 hours and $1,043,553. An Aug. 18, 2010, a city controller audit of 10B usage recommended increasing oversight, noting “weak controls” on actual hours worked. The audit recommendations included requiring officers to sign in and out of an attendance log for 10B events.