DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Public records CBS 17 obtained show that some Durham police officers have worked hundreds of hours and raked in thousands of dollars in overtime pay since the city’s fiscal year started in July 2021.
Officers are voluntarily working extra hours to help make up for the shortage of officers on patrol as currently there are 101 sworn officer vacancies in the Durham Police Department, which means 16 percent of their positions are vacant.
The job openings are up from the 70 sworn officer vacancies Durham police told CBS 17 they had in October 2021.
According to internal emails CBS 17 obtained, Durham police spent $479,088.23 from July 1, 2021, through March 1, 2022, on overtime hours to help maintain minimum staffing within the department.
The data shows that so far Durham police employees have worked a total of 10,152.75 hours in overtime since the fiscal year started in July.
Emails CBS 17 obtained also listed the top 20 overtime earners within the Durham Police Department, and all those employees have already made more than $10,000 in overtime pay since July.
The top 20 earners have all worked anywhere from 200 to 900 hours in overtime, which is anywhere from an average of 25 extra hours to 100 extra hours a month.
The top five earners in overtime have made more than $20,000 in overtime since July and the top earner has already made $51,595 in overtime pay so far this fiscal year. That top earner has already worked 868 hours in overtime since July.
Durham police told CBS 17 that overtime is voluntary and currently there is no limit for officers who want to work supplemental patrol, where they fill in on patrol on their days off. But police said that no officer above the rank of sergeant is eligible to work patrol supplemental work for overtime pay.
“If an officer works every day of their 14 days off, which they can, they can rack up a lot of overtime,” said Larry Smith, spokesman for the Durham Fraternal Order of Police.
However, there is a cap of 120 hours of overtime for those who want to work secondary employment in a calendar month.
When looking at the total amount Durham police has spent on overtime for employees since July 2021, the $479,088.23 is enough to pay 11 starting Durham officer salaries for an entire year, as the starting salary for an officer is $42,593.
Durham Police Chief Patrice Andrews said during a news conference on April 13 that they are working to fill officer vacancies and they have seen fewer officers leave the department since Durham City Council approved a 10 percent raise for new recruits in January, as well as varying raises for other officers.
“This is going to be a process, you’re not going to see a dramatic increase in three months,” Andrews said.
Until they can build up their staff, the Durham Fraternal Order of Police said a boost in morale with more support from the city council has encouraged more officers to work overtime shifts, as the supplemental help has boosted the patrol shifts to staffing levels of 80 percent to 90 percent.
Also, Smith said having specialized units and command staff fill in on patrol has also helped boost morale.
“They are seeing other units, who don’t typically have to work patrol shifts out carrying some of the load,” Smith said.
Durham police currently have an academy underway with nine recruits who are set to graduate this summer. Police officials said they are currently recruiting for their next academy which is set to begin in August.
To apply for a position with Durham Police, click here.