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Off-Duty Work By Law Enforcement In Sacramento County

    Subject of Investigation

    The Sacramento City Police and the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office have programs to allow uniformed officers to perform peace officer work for public agencies or private entities during off-duty hours.

    Reason for Investigation

    In an editorial published by the Sacramento Bee on November 1, 1999, it was disclosed that a dispute had erupted between the Sacramento City Police and the Sacramento County Sheriff concerning the authority of the Sheriff to secure off-duty contracts for its deputies within the boundaries of the City of Sacramento. Because of the dispute, the Grand Jury decided to review the policies of both law enforcement agencies with respect to the availability and use of sworn officers for off-duty work assignments.


    The Grand Jury primarily relied on written policies pertaining to off-duty work obtained from the Sacramento City Police, Sacramento County Sheriff and other law enforcement agencies in Northern California.


    General Findings

    On November 1, 1999, the Sacramento Bee in an editorial stated that the Sacramento Police Department and the Sheriff's Department were embroiled in a dispute over which agency would provide off-duty officers to patrol events held at Arco Arena. The editorial framed the controversy as follows:

      "Until Arco Arena, a facility located within the city, signed its deal with county sheriff's deputies, an unwritten agreement held that the sheriff would provide off-duty deputies to clients outside the city. Off-duty police would work the city exclusively. Arco officials reportedly switched contracts because city officers weren't always available when needed. The county with its larger force . . . has more off-duty officers available for private security service."

    Although off-duty peace officer work performed by deputies and city police may provide benefits to the community, unbridled competition between Sacramento County's two major law enforcement agencies to obtain this type of work for its employees does not benefit the community.

    In November 1995 the Board of Supervisors granted approval for Sacramento deputy sheriffs to be employed as peace officers outside their regular employment. Off-duty work is performed by deputies and city police for governmental entities as well as private businesses and groups. The amount of off-duty work currently performed by Sacramento County deputies is significant. The off-duty hours worked by deputies for 1999 was approximately 72,228. City police worked approximately 35,740 off-duty hours in 1999. The County Counsel has estimated that in 1992, the 70,000 - 75,000 off-duty hours worked by deputies represented the equivalent of 30 - 35 full time positions.

    The County Counsel, in a letter written to the County Executive and the Sheriff on April 28, 1992, stated that the use of deputies for off-duty peace officer work has several advantages:

      · "Law enforcement officers are offered a lucrative source of supplemental income";
      · "Chief law enforcement officials are able to stretch thin resources to serve needs which might otherwise go unmet";
      · "Private enterprise is offered the capability of swift arrest and backup assistance with which to confront crisis (capabilities not offered by competing private security services)"; and
      · "Local government bears the indirect costs associated with this practice at a level of expense which is unknown but admittedly lower than that which would be incurred were such services to be delivered by on-duty deputies."

    Specific Findings

    The manner in which the City and County have implemented their off-duty program has changed significantly over the years. Currently the unit which coordinates such work for the Police Department is called the Supplemental Employment Unit. The individual who is in charge of the organization which handles off-duty work for the Sheriff is referred to as the Off-duty Work Coordinator. All requests for off-duty work are made to these units which operate all aspects of the off-duty program. Rates and fee schedules have been adopted which include costs for vehicles and equipment, workers compensation, liability insurance and all federal and state payroll withholding taxes.

    Both the Police Department and Sheriff's Department have developed lengthy and detailed policies relating to the implementation and operation of their off-duty programs. The Grand Jury has reviewed these policies and comments as follows.

      · A police officer may not work more than 20 hours per week of overtime (gen. order 253.02, B.2, p.1). The policies of the Sheriff impose no limit on the amount of overtime deputies may work in a week's period of time.
      · Police regulations require that there be an interval of at least 8 hours between the time off-duty work is performed by an officer and the beginning of his or her regularly scheduled duty assignment. The Sheriff requires a 10-hour interval which means, a deputy on an 8-hour work assignment may only work 6 off-duty hours within a 24-hour period.

      · Police general orders require that off-duty work must be performed within the city limits. The policies promulgated by the Sheriff also limit such work to unincorporated parts of the county. However, the Sheriff or Under Sheriff is authorized to grant deputies special permission to work anywhere within the county. No agreement exists between the Police and Sheriff's Departments which defines boundaries within which each is restricted as to off-duty peace officer work performed by its officers.


      · It is extremely important that the Chief of Police and the Sheriff not compete to obtain off duty work for their sworn officers. Because the Sheriff has substantially more law enforcement officers in its employ than the Police Department, any agreement limiting the jurisdiction of each department should allow for situations which might necessitate the use of deputies in the city. For example, if the Police are unable to provide sufficient off-duty officers for a large event, the agreement could provide that the Chief of Police, on such occasions, be authorized to approve use of deputies, or vice versa.

      · Although off-duty work performed by city police officers and sheriff's deputies provides benefits to the community, it is necessary that it be strictly regulated. It must be kept in mind that the primary purpose of each department is to provide protection to the general public and this cannot be accomplished if officers are allowed to work excessive hours, whether through overtime or off-duty work.


    1. The Sacramento City Council and Board of Supervisors should require the Sheriff and Chief of Police to formulate forthwith written policies that will eliminate any competition by either department to acquire off-duty work for its officers.

    2. The policies of the Sacramento County Sheriff and Sacramento City Police concerning the amount of off duty work that their sworn officers perform should be reviewed. In the opinion of the Grand Jury, the 8-hour interval allowed by the police between off-duty work and the beginning of regularly scheduled work might not allow enough time for an officer to acquire needed rest between work assignments. The county should consider adopting a maximum number of off duty hours that its deputies may work.

    3. Sacramento City Council and the County Board of Supervisors should approve any changes that are made to policies involving off duty work by sworn officers of the City Police and the Sheriff's Department.

    Response Required

    The Penal Code requires that responses to all of the recommendations contained in this Report be submitted to the Presiding Judge of the Sacramento Superior Court by September 30, 2000, from:

      · Sacramento Police Department
      · Sacramento County Sheriff's Department

1999/2000 Sacramento County Grand Jury - Final Report (Internet Version) June 30, 2000

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