Louisville police chief testifies in SWAT officers' on-call back pay suit

"I'm sorry, but when you are waiting on a phone to ring, that is not work," LMPD Chief Erika Shields said

By Sarah Calams

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A police chief took the stand Monday after members of her SWAT team filed a lawsuit in 2016 demanding “on-call” payment dating back to 2002.

The lawsuit, which was filed by members of the Louisville Metro Police Department SWAT team, claims officers missed family gatherings and were unable to secure off-duty jobs due to the on-call rules. The rules, they said, meant they would have to be on-call for two weeks at a time and needed to be within 45 minutes of any call, WDRB.com reported. If officers answered a call, then they would receive payment. Otherwise, they did not receive payment during their on-call time.

“I’m sorry, but when you are waiting on a phone to ring, that is not work,” LMPD Chief Erika Shields said. “I’ve never talked to a chief where they pay officers for being on call.”

Attorney Suzanne Michael said the SWAT officers “all knew when they signed up for the job what was expected from them.” Moreover, Deputy Mayor Ellen Hesen said the lawsuit would have an impact on the city, noting it “would mean having to raise taxes and cutting services.”

The trial is expected to end this week.

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