Dallas police are considering reforms for oversight of the extra jobs officers work beyond their regular city hours and some of it worries officers and the people who hire them.
The push for reform comes after a city audit in November that was critical of existing police oversight and the September shooting death of Botham Jean by former officer Amber Guyger. She had completed 18 hours of work for the city that day, which prompted concerns about officer fatigue.
Officer Shawna Alvarez, a board member of the National Latino Law Enforcement Organization Dallas Chapter, said policy changes are unnecessary.
"It can be a lot, but we all know how to manage it ourselves," she said.
Alvarez is a single mother who works an extra job away from her son to make ends meet.
"We wouldn’t be working so much if we were getting paid what we should be getting paid," she said.
The new plan calls for a reduction of the 72 hour a week limit currently allowed for Dallas Police extra jobs. The new limit would be 40 hours a week.
"I believe it’s reasonable," said Terrance Hopkins, President of the Black Police Association of Greater Dallas.
Hopkins said officers had input in the changes through a survey.
"There are certain checks and balances that need to take place. We need to know where officers are, where they are working because something could happen, up and to a shooting possibly," Hopkins said.
Police officials have said in the past that they do not have sufficient staff to oversee extra jobs.
So, one option is hiring an outside third party for that task. The cost of the outside contractor could be charged to the people who hire the officers.
Darren Dattalo is the crime watch leader for the Lower Greenville Neighborhood Association, which hires off duty officers for Extra Neighborhood Patrol (ENP).
"I think it will make it a lot worse and I think it will cost a lot more and I would be less inclined to have any ENP if they bring in a third party management," Dattalo said. "We know that these third parties get involved because there’s a profit motive."
Dattalo agreed that additional oversight of police extra jobs is justified. He has heard about improprieties with extra jobs that were not registered with headquarters.
"I’d rather see it managed from inside the department, because I trust that those guys are not in it for a profit motive," Dattalo said.
For the past four years, residents of the area bounded by Hillcrest Road, Central Expressway, Forest Lane and Royal Lane have been paying for what they call 'Five Star ENP.' Beverly Houston is one of the founders. She said around 600 of approximately 800 homes in the area contribute to the voluntary program.
Houston said concern about the reform plan has circulated through the neighborhood.
"From the onset, everybody is a little suspicious of it because our program cut down crime 60 percent the first year that we started it. So it’s like, what are they trying to fix? We’re very happy with the way it is," Houston said. "To add another layer of bureaucracy, we don’t quite understand or see the need of. What we do see the need of is to maybe use some of that money and manpower to recruit and retain officers."
Officer Alvarez said extra job customers should not be charged additional fees for the city's use of an outside contractor.
"They’re saying that it’s not being monitored. OK. That’s something that we need to do in house. It does not require to hire someone else to do it from the outside," Alvarez said.
Dallas Police provided an e-mail from Lieutenant James Lewis in the office of Chief U. Renee Hall, who is on a leave of absence.
Lewis said the department is in the very early stages of considering the possibility of utilizing a third-party solution for managing off-duty police employment.
"The Dallas Police Department is not currently in the procurement process. We are establishing what our specifications would need to be and how those specifications can best be met. The command staff has not definitively determined that a third-party management solution is the best fit. It is being investigated as a possibility during the course of reviewing all the viable options for best managing the program," the email said.
Lewis said a briefing is tentatively set to be delivered to the Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee on August 12.
He said any new program will maintain the existing requirement that all off-duty employers must register with the Dallas Police Department.