NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — You’ve probably seen it before: A city cop working a festival or directing traffic near a construction site.
It’s common for police in New Brunswick—and just about everywhere—to take on these “extra-duty” assignments. They’re a source of extra income for city cops, who get paid by the hour for these jobs, and they help meet the needs of private organizations, which pay for the work.
And extra-duty pay for police officers is about to get better in New Brunswick.
The City Council recently introduced an ordinance that could raise the rates charged to private entities—and, subsequently, paid to police officers—by $15 per hour over the next several years. The ordinance is up for adoption following a public hearing at the council’s 6:30 p.m. March 15 meeting in City Hall.
New Brunswick’s municipal code has in place extra-duty pay rates that stem back to 2011, when officers received $54 per hour. In 2015, the most recent year on the books, cops took home $66 per hour for the work, according to city code.
If the council chooses to adopt the new pay scale, cops would receive $71 per hour this year. After increases over the next few years, that figure would reach its apex in 2020 at $81 per hour.
When five or more police officers work an extra-duty job, the city requires private groups to bring on a supervisor. They get paid an extra 15 percent above the hourly rate, which currently equals $76 per hour, according to city code.
If the proposed ordinance goes into effect, that number would rise to $82 this year. Incremental increases would take effect over the next few years, bringing supervisors to a rate of $93 per hour in 2020.
When it comes to extra-duty pay, New Brunswick cuts the State Theatre some slack.
The Livingston Avenue-based performance company often attracts busloads of visitors to the Hub City. “Due to the nature of the services provided and the longstanding relationship” between the police department and the State Theatre, the group would continue to pay lower-than-average hourly rates under the proposed ordinance.
Cops who work those events have earned $59 per hour since 2015. That figure is slated to remain stagnant this year, but it would rise to $62 per hour come 2020, according to the ordinance.
All officers earn what’s called “premium pay” when working extra duty on holidays or overnight. As of now, those pay rates depend on the rank of the officer—but the proposed ordinance stands to bring that number to $99 per hour for everyone, regardless of rank.
New Brunswick also charges administrative and vehicle fees to groups that contract with the police. Administrative fees would jump from $21 to $23 and vehicle fees from $19 to $21 per hour by 2020 if the ordinance were put into law.
So how does this all stack up against cities that are nearby or similar in size?
In many cases, it’s difficult to say. That’s because most ordinances are written differently and include a number of variables specific to each police department. Extra-duty rates are often enshrined in collective bargaining agreements between police unions and the governments they serve.
Even so, TAPinto New Brunswick analyzed the hourly pay rates and formulae of five nearby or similar municipalities. Here’s what they look like next to New Brunswick’s proposed rates.
Neighboring Piscataway, which is nearly identical in population size, has had an ordinance on the books that established pay rates through 2008. Effective 2009, the pay rates have been determined by an annual percentage increase.
According to TAPinto New Brunswick’s calculations, an officer working a traffic post this year earns roughly $79 per hour. That’s $8 above the proposed rate of $71 in New Brunswick.
A supervisor working security in Piscataway, according to those calculations, earns $62 per hour. That’s $20 below the proposed rate of $82 per hour in New Brunswick.
In Plainfield, cops working extra-duty events earn $35, $55 or $75 per hour, depending on the type of event. New Brunswick, meanwhile, has a flat fee for police officers that could rise to $71 per hour.
This year, Woodbridge police earn $42, $60 or $70 per hour, which depends on the type of project. Again, New Brunswick cops would earn $71 per hour if the proposed ordinance goes into effect.
In neighboring Franklin, police earn $62.42 per hour this year. That number jumps to $82.82 for traffic services. New Brunswick’s proposed pay rate of $71 falls in the middle of those two figures.
Union Township, whose population is comparable to that of New Brunswick, has hourly pay rates that vary. Cops working construction earn $55 per hour, while inside security gets them $25 and traffic $40 per hour. All of these rates fall below the proposed $71 hourly figure in New Brunswick.
New Brunswick Council President Glen Fleming wasn’t immediately available for comment.