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Old 02-08-2013, 11:03   #1
WarCry
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Are police ever off-duty?

With a few exceptional situations, yes, I do believe cops are entitled to their downtime like anyone else. Especially if they are paid as 'non-exempt'.

Lawsuit Against Chicago Police for Blackberry Overtime

I'd be curious to know what types of calls/e-mails he was dealing with, though. The article says he was working with the narcotics unit. If he was working undercover (the article doesn't say), you can't exactly tell a buy/seller "yeah, can you call me during my shift hours instead?" It also doesn't say if he volunteered for the unit or if he was assigned.

Yeah, I think overtime is valid, but if it's something you knew was a responsibility (the phone and messages) beforehand and you still volunteered.....I don't know, I guess that's why it will end up in front of a judge.
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Old 02-08-2013, 11:22   #2
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An old girlfriend of mine was a 911 dispatcher. Most of the deputies I knew popped a brew first thing when they got home. "Sorry, can't come in. I've been drinking." They had an internal issue with lots of sick calls forcing double shifts.
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Old 02-08-2013, 11:23   #3
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Clearly, the lawsuit has a lot less to do with a few phone calls and texts than it does CPD getting fed up with being mistreated and marginalized for decades. Enough is enough.

In other news, they asked for 12% pay raise this week and a $3,000 stipend because they are required to live in the city limits (and nice neighborhoods in Chicago are rare, and not cheap).
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Old 02-08-2013, 15:44   #4
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If we are in a position where we are expected to answer cell phone/pager off shift it is called standby. We are entitled to 1 hour pay on working days and on on last day of work/days off entitled to 3 hours pay. If I was called in I was entitled to double time with a minimum 3 hours at double time.

I was never on paid standby on days off but was usually available by pager. I fielded a lot of panicked last minute phone calls from investigators who's lack of planning was now an emergency. They didn't seem to realize I didn't keep my files at home and couldn't remember the exact details of a file that I had dealt with a year ago.
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Old 02-08-2013, 16:02   #5
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Policing is not the military. It is a job like any other, in much of the legal sense of employment law. Like anything else, there are exceptions, but people are entitled to have families, scheduled time off, vacations, hobbies, sleep, etc.

The average month is 720 hours - at the rate of a topped out officer of $35 an hour - I'd be entitled to $25,200 a month; $302,400 a year. Taxpayers aren't going to pay that.

If I am on call 24/7 at a paid monthy wage of $5,600 a month, I effectively make $7.778 an hour. Sorry, but I am not going to work for less than the State minimum wage of $7.80 an hour.

Getting a stand-by wage of a dollar or two an hour to be on call and having my freedoms restricted [no alcohol, cannot leave the county, must answer a telephone call - no matter what and to respond to a call for service within a given time period, must have my vehicle and all my gear during this time, etc.] is reasonable.
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Old 02-08-2013, 16:15   #6
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Getting phone calls in the middle of the night with questions regarding a case?

Getting a call the night before notifying me that instead of working tomorrow PM, they need me to work tomorrow AM?

Getting called out of bed (literally) to come back to the office because something is happening? Absolutely. During days off and get called?

Worst thing I ever did was give the office my cell phone number!
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Old 02-08-2013, 17:01   #7
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When I was a Sgt. on mids, we had a Captain who would routinely call around 11 am (after he had his coffee and read through the reports) to ask about overnight jobs. He'd always act surprised if he woke you up. After several times, I informed him that if he called and woke me for a non emergency call just to ask about a report, I'd come in and submit an overtime slip for call in (2 hours doubletime). He stopped doing it.

I didn't mind getting calls about jobs but he knew there was a good chance I'd be sleeping and would call about the most minor things. When he learned to use his email, we had no more problems.
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Old 02-08-2013, 17:14   #8
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I suppose it depends on what you do, and if you are onl salary or paid by the hour. I have been in both worlds. When you are on salary, they own you. You get paid 10 hours a day, no matter how many hours they work you day and night. They would usually rotate who was on call, but I have been called out on days that I wasn't scheduled which irritated me. But, that had to do with the internal politics of merging two agencies and being on the "bottom rung" of the merger.

After three years of that, I left and went back to hourly, which is much nicer. The electronic leash rately bothers me. After three years of day and night where you could start to hear the leash go off even when it didn't, I was tempted to throw it in the highway to see how well it would bounce before being ran over several times.

However, I did like the use of the phone over the pager. You would get a phone number and find out it was an Amber alert that had nothing to do with you. But, it woke you up at 3AM anyway.

Nope, don't miss being on salary even a little bit.
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Old 02-08-2013, 17:28   #9
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We are soon to be fighting the same battle. We were issued phones last year and there are consequences for not answering it off duty and not coming in when called to. Detectives, admin, and supervisors are paid for being on "on call" status, we (patrol) are not.

It might sound trivial to someone who doesn't understand it, but I wish them the best of luck.
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Old 02-08-2013, 17:48   #10
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We are soon to be fighting the same battle. We were issued phones last year and there are consequences for not answering it off duty and not coming in when called to. Detectives, admin, and supervisors are paid for being on "on call" status, we (patrol) are not.

It might sound trivial to someone who doesn't understand it, but I wish them the best of luck.
I was on multijuridictional task force. One of the Deputies gave me his work cell. I had no idea when he was on or off duty. It suprised me when he answered his phone at home. But, that may have been the rules the state and locals were operating under while on the taskforce. I appologized for calling him while he was off, but he shurgged it off as normal.

But, I have called state guys up on a case before that were uniform, and they actually answered when they were off too. That suprised me as well. But, everyone department/agency has their own rules they play by.
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Old 02-08-2013, 23:56   #11
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My work is hourly pay. Patrol Officers get overtime starting at when they are called in. A phone call at home about work, is seen as just a phone call.

As a supervisor, we are fair game to get calls at any time. Worst was when I worked our investigation/CID section. On call would get a call, then they had to call me, and I might have to call other Detectives or the on call Admin. No extra pay and I might get a phone call every 1/2 hour to hour on big cases, and I still have to be at work for my shift, and if a major case I need to be able to show up, so no drinking, no going far from the PD...

Funny thing is we started using a time clock. We adjust the time to show 8 hours worked a day. If done right there would be a lot of overtime pay or flexed time as no one works just 8 hours.
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Old 02-09-2013, 09:05   #12
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As a detective, we are never really not on call. We have our set callback times depending on the day and the week. Unfortunately we don't get any compensation for being on callback. I honestly think $1 or $2 an hour is appropriate because my freedom of movement is significantly restricted.

The times we're not on callback, they want us to have our phone with us in case the SHTF and they need more people. It isn't required, but you do it every time they call you when you aren't on call and you'll find yourself out of the unit pretty quickly.

As for getting phone calls when you're off. We kind of play it by ear. If I get a 5 minute phone call to take care of something, it's just a phone call. If I am on the phone for 30+ minutes taking care of something related to a case, then I put the time in. And it isn't a 2-3 hour minimum. If I'm on the phone for 45 minutes dealing with something, then I put 45 minutes down.
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Old 02-09-2013, 11:48   #13
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We have take home units, and I was involved in an accident on my way in to work. My unit was totaled, and I went to the emergency room. When it was time to pay, I naturally told them it was workers comp. later, I had to pay since my accident was not related to law enforcement. Even though policy states I can only use my unit unit for official business and I observe traffic for possible violations, stopping violators if I have to, or assisting other units on hot calls, they still say I'm not on duty......until I have to take police action.
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Old 02-09-2013, 11:56   #14
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I learned after the first few years to not answer your phone... it's best to let them leave a message to see what they want and then call back.
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Old 02-09-2013, 12:19   #15
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I am off duty all the time....but there is never a time that I am not a Cop.
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Old 02-09-2013, 14:58   #16
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Interesting timing.

This is my day off. So far, I've been required to take two and make one phone call. I had to stop what I was doing, get briefed on a case and make decisions which will affect a guy for the rest of his life. My name and the guidance I gave is going in at least two reports and will likely come up in trial. I will be subject to being called to give testimony and both I and my employer will be liable in any civil suit for what I did.

I should do this for free?
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Old 02-09-2013, 17:43   #17
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We have take home units, and I was involved in an accident on my way in to work. My unit was totaled, and I went to the emergency room. When it was time to pay, I naturally told them it was workers comp. later, I had to pay since my accident was not related to law enforcement. Even though policy states I can only use my unit unit for official business and I observe traffic for possible violations, stopping violators if I have to, or assisting other units on hot calls, they still say I'm not on duty......until I have to take police action.
Thats BS, if you are in the uniform you are on duty period.

If you pass a wreck in your patrol car are you expected to pass by it and not check for injuries, clear the roadway, etc...?
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Old 02-09-2013, 18:46   #18
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We have take home units, and I was involved in an accident on my way in to work. My unit was totaled, and I went to the emergency room. When it was time to pay, I naturally told them it was workers comp. later, I had to pay since my accident was not related to law enforcement. Even though policy states I can only use my unit unit for official business and I observe traffic for possible violations, stopping violators if I have to, or assisting other units on hot calls, they still say I'm not on duty......until I have to take police action.
If you didn't, this is something that should have had a competent and experienced workers' comp lawyer involved.

I had a similar issue when I was rear-ended in my take home squad on the way to training one day. They initially denied workers' comp and tried to argue that I wasn't on duty, but the case was eventually settled in my favor.

Might be state-by-state, but in Illinois you are considered on-duty while commuting to/from work in many contexts (specifically for LODD).
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Old 02-09-2013, 20:28   #19
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I learned after the first few years to not answer your phone... it's best to let them leave a message to see what they want and then call back.
Absolutely. I've told the other officers/supervisors that while I like you guys, I screen your phone calls. I will continue to do so. Don't take it personal, and don't call me off duty about anything work related that you can't find out from somebody else.
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Old 02-09-2013, 21:33   #20
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Absolutely. I've told the other officers/supervisors that while I like you guys, I screen your phone calls. I will continue to do so. Don't take it personal, and don't call me off duty about anything work related that you can't find out from somebody else.
I think part of the issue is these are "company phones" with the instruction that 'it rings, you answer'.
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