Bossier City Council to vote on overtime pay for police, fire K-9 handlers in January

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The Bossier City Council delayed Tuesday approving corrections to a pay imbalance for K-9 handlers in its city and fire departments.

The council voted to reintroduce and continue ordinances, respectively, that would amend the 2018 budget and 2019 budgets to include overtime pay for handlers in both departments.

“There’s still a lot to learn, to look at,” said Councilman Don Williams. “We can just do both at the next meeting.”

One ordinance would amend the Bossier City Police Department’s 2018 and 2019 operations budget by appropriating $83,425.31 for each budget.

The ordinance was amended at the Dec. 18 meeting from its original amount to reflect that only four handlers are hired in the department, instead of the allotted five handlers.

“I don’t think we want to pay a ghost (employee),” said Williams.

That ordinance will be reintroduced at the Jan. 8, 2019 meeting.

The second ordinance would amended the Bossier City Fire Department’s 2018 and 2019 operations budget by $13,877.67 for each year.

This brings the two year total to $166,850.62 for the police department and $27,755.34 for the fire department.

The fire department budget vote was also continued until the first meeting in January.

According to a KTBS report, Councilman Jeff Darby originally raised concerns last year that city police and fire canine handlers weren’t being paid fairly.

The city administration found the departments didn’t comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act. They said the city had been under paying handlers who were non-exempt (non-salaried) employees.

According to the Fair Labor and Standards Act, pay for canine handlers is supposed to be based on time spent performing canine activities, with a stipend based on hours, not just a percentage of wages.

Due to the amount of time spent caring for the dogs away from work, as handlers carry the animals home with them each day, the city calculated the amount of pay for the hours spent.

Each non-exempt police handler will receive an estimated $20,856 dollars per year in overtime. The fire department handler will receive an estimated $13,877 dollars in overtime annually.

The city has four police canine officers and one fire department handler. The city has an allotment for another handler in the police department.