Security work drains police officers

The Police Department does a poor job of tracking officers who work off-hours providing security for large events and then turn around to work long days policing city streets.

Officers can opt to work security for construction sites, festivals and sporting events after their regular shifts are up under a program known as 10-B. Police are paid time and a half, which The City collects and doles out to the officers.

The program, which has long been part of union contracts, has come under fire because it has the tendency to exhaust officers for their regular shifts. And criticism has come from festival operators who are forced to hire a certain number of police officers before they can get the right permits to hold their event.

Now, a report from the city controller shows just how much money the program takes in and just how little oversight goes into officers’ timecards when they voluntarily take on extra hours.

Between July 2007 and June 2008, San Francisco police officers were paid $11.3 million in overtime through the 10-B program. The next fiscal year, they made $9.4 million.

The audit also found that 25 out of 127 officers who had their payroll records checked worked more than 14 hours in one 24-hour period.

Another eight officers recorded more than 20 hours of voluntary overtime in one week. Officers who exceeded those daily and weekly maximums are basically breaking department regulations.

“The restrictions on worked hours are in place to help ensure the health and safety of the officers, as well as the well-being of the public,” the report said. “Officers who work beyond these hour limitations may become fatigued, which could result in a decrease in performance and judgment in critical situations.”

In a letter, police Chief George Gascón responded by saying a new automated timekeeping system should help monitor the working hours of officers. The system “provides automated safeguards that directly respond to some of the report recommendations.”

The audit faults supervision of officers at big events such as Bay to Breakers, which is the largest single 10-B event each year. Officers are not required to check in with their supervisors, only to be available through radio dispatch.

Event sponsors paid almost $300,000 for security in 2009, and the audit said the Police Department did not collect 25 percent of that amount until six months after the event. 

The hours worked by police on private event security has been especially galling for some because The City already has Patrol Special Police, which are essentially private security officers overseen by the Police Commission. Glen Park resident Ann Grogan, who has done outreach work for the Patrol Special force, said police officers are hired for as much as $100 an hour to do work that Patrol Specials do at half the price.

“There is simply no logic to the existence of the 10-B private-policing program, other than to add to our already highly paid city police officer salaries,” Grogan said.

Representatives of the Police Officers Association did not return calls seeking comment.

AEG, organizer of Bay to Breakers event, shares the same owners as Clarity Media LLC, the parent company of The San Francisco Examiner.

Work on the side

Program 10-B is under fire for allowing SFPD officers to work too many off-hours.

               Fiscal year 2007-08    Fiscal year 2008-09
                   Cost    Hours    Cost    Hours
Overtime    $30,400,000    505,411    $23,300,000    284,064
10-B overtime    $11,300,000    61,567    $9,400,000    131,318
Total OT    $41,700,000    566,978    $32,700,000    415,382

* Partial year tabulation

Source: City controller

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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