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GPD revamps off-duty employment program

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The Greensboro Police Department has hired a third party contractor to administer its Secondary Employment program, through which private companies and individuals can hire officers to work security.

But the changeover, which began last week, means increased fees for those using the program, and more difficulty selecting specific officers to work an assignment.

Prior to the changeover, the city charged a flat administrative fee of $2 an hour (on top of the officer’s pay)  when someone hired an officer through the program.

That has increased to 10 percent of the officer’s pay. So, for example, if an officer worked a job that paid $25 an hour, the city would receive a $2.50 fee for each hour worked.

On top of that, the contractor, Trumbull, Connecticut-based Extra Duty Solutions (EDS), charges its own fee of roughly 12 percent.

So someone hiring an officer at $25 an hour, would be paying a total of $5.40 in administrative fees for each hour that officer is on duty.

The program has four pay tiers, $25, $30, $35 and $40 per hour. Simple jobs, like watching over a bank of computer servers at night, might pay $25, police Capt. J.W. Thompson said, whereas something like working a rowdy nightclub would pay more.

Even though they’re being paid by a private entity, officers working through the program still have the same authority as when they’re on duty for the city. They also have to follow the same rules and guidelines.

“You can’t hire us to do bail bonds work, for example, or hire us to check IDs at the door,” said Thompson, who is commander of the department’s Resource Management Division.

The department has traditionally had a full time civilian employee who handled scheduling, billing and other administrative duties associated with the program.

“The program really just outgrew our resources,” Thompson said. “And we started asking officers on recurring assignments to manage the invoicing and scheduling. But our officers aren’t really trained to do that, and we saw some errors. There were assignments not being filled. There were a few double bookings, where two officers showed up for the same assignment. So we really needed to re-evaluate how to manage this.”

Thompson said the department considered several options, including hiring more people to manage the program.

Ultimately, though, department officials decided to seek a contractor, and the job was put out to bid, which EDS wound up winning. Those wanting to hire off duty officers will now call or email the company directly.

Thompson said the department has about 100 regular users of the program, along with several hundred more each year who request officers to work one-time events.

Some of those regular users also had regular officers they liked working with.

“That was a great perk,” Thompson said. “But the problem was there wasn’t consistency in the way officers were allowed to work. There might be other officers who would have liked to work those assignments. With this new system, everybody gets access to it. It’s not just these 12 officers who get to work a certain assignment. We just want to be more fair to everyone in the organization.”

Altogether, Thompson said, the program provides about 100,000 to 125,000 hours of private work to officers each year. Among the top users of the program are Aldi’s grocery, with about 1,400 hours of work billed in February, Cone Health, with about 2,000 hours, and the N.C. Department of Transportation with about 3,600 hours.

The latter uses officers to keep roads closed and direct traffic while road construction is going on.

Don Causey, Cone Health Corporate Director of Security Services, described the rate hike as a “modest” burden.

“Our biggest concern is whether or not we will get the same really outstanding level of service as we have received in the past,” he said. “We’ve been assured that we will and all indications are we will.”

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