If you think working more than 40 to 50 hours a week is tiring, several Cincinnati police officers work twice that or more, thanks to off-duty details that have grown in number this decade. It’s a trend one expert calls “terrifying,” the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. One officer worked nearly 110 hours a week on average over the last 12 months, found an Enquirer analysis of the Cincinnati Police Department’s off-duty logs and payroll. That equated into about 15.5 hours a day total between on- and off-duty hours for Sgt. Brian Meyer. He earned more than $130,000 in off-duty pay alone and nearly $300,000 total. Four officers worked more than 90 hours a week total on average.
Off-duty details can be anything from security at retail stores or a housing development. Off-duty police also check tickets on the downtown streetcar or work extra patrols in the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Cincinnati. The head of the local police union has said the practice helps taxpayers, makes the city safer, and includes adequate safeguards. “Last year over 250,000 hours of police coverage was provided by off duty details,” Fraternal Order of Police local president Dan Hils wrote on Facebook. “This added not only additional presence, but police response, intelligence gathering and relationship building with the community.” Experts and some city policy makers said the number of hours worked by some officers raise serious questions about possible fatigue and a lack of alertness and efficiency while on-duty, possibly hurting officer and public safety. One expert who has studied the impact of fatigue on police and military said the “macho culture” of police departments makes it more difficult to make changes to work hour rules. “I get it – they think they are Superman and can survive on 4 hours of sleep for extended periods of time,” said Washington State University assistant research professor Stephen James. “But in a scenario like that, the lack of recovery time is as much an issue as the length of the shift or work day.”