K9 officers to get overtime pay
Compensation is for off-duty time spent caring for dogs

The Cincinnati Enquirer

A federal judge has ordered Cincinnati to pay K9 officers more than $515,000 in overtime for hours spent caring for police dogs.

Individual payments to the 10 officers ranged from $26,379 to $69,281.

Monday, winning attorney Stephen Lazarus said officers were awarded an hour of overtime for each working day plus an hour-and-a-half on every day off. Payments cover four years, starting in January 1995.

In addition, U.S. District Judge Herman J. Weber said, taxpayers must pay the officers' lawyers.

John J. Williams, the assistant solicitor handling the case, said the city would appeal.

“It's in the contract,” he said of the extra time required of K9 officers, and the Fraternal Order of Police didn't seek to renegotiate that question in the recently approved collective bargaining agreement.

If the city loses the appeal, it will owe interest on the money as well.

Judge Weber heard the suit without a jury.

He concluded that the city required K9 officers to spend eight hours a week caring for the dogs after their working hours and they were entitled to time-and-a-half.

Care beyond that was attributed to the officers' “personal devotion to their canine partners” and was not required by the city or subject to payment, Judge Weber added.

The Fair Labor Standards Act under which Mr. Lazarus filed the officers' suit allowed reimbursement for two years before the complaint was filed in January 1997.

Mr. Lazarus said city policy is unchanged regarding K9 officers' overtime but he wants to renegotiate their compensation in light of Judge Weber's ruling.

Mr. Lazarus said officers spend at least 90 minutes a day caring for their dogs and some spend “substantially more than that.”

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