DALLAS — Dallas police officers got a boost in pay this year from the Dallas city council, but for years, they were among the lowest paid in North Texas, forcing many officers to work long hours on off duty jobs.
"Every single police officer in the country works extra jobs. This is nothing new, not something singular to the city of Dallas or the Dallas Police Department,” said Mike Mata, President of the Dallas Police Association.
In Dallas, officers can work up to 72 hours a week off duty, plus their 40 hour work week for a total of 112 hours. A recent city audit states "There's a potential to work the equivalent of approximately three full time jobs. They said that's too much and recommend the department decrease the number of hours officers can work off duty from 72 to 24 hours.”
"One, give a better pay and benefits package, so the officer doesn't need to go out there and work those extra jobs to cover the basic needs for his family," said Mata.
And often times officers are also forced to stay late and work longer hours because the department is so short staffed. "We need more cops plain and simple," Mata said.
City leaders fear all the extra hours may be causing officer fatigue. This issue came to light in the Botham Jean shooting when officer Amber Guyer stated she was tired and went to the wrong apartment, thinking it was her own when she shot Jean.
She had worked a 14 hour shift that day, but it was an issue even before the shooting. "This was being looked at for a long time, and it was originally proposed because of mental health and mental wellness of officers,” said Mata.
The audit also found that it's hard to tell which officers may be violating the overtime rules by working excessive hours and not telling supervisors where they are working.
Currently they have to fill out overtime cards and get supervisor approval, but the audit found sometimes supervisors don't look at the cards until months later.
Officers are not allowed to work certain places like strip clubs, but the audit found some officers may be violating the policy and it’s hard to track.
The department command staff is looking at the results of the audit and say they will be making changes.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings released the following statement in response: "Dallas police officers are the best trained and hardest working cops in the country. Many officers rely on off-duty jobs to help support themselves and their families. Organizations and businesses all over the city also rely on the program. However, it does us all a disservice if we don’t follow our own orders intended to keep police and the public safe. I know Chief Hall will review the findings and address this matter in the best interests of her officers and the public."