CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers, the team owned by the wealthiest owner in the NFL, will now pay off-duty police officers significantly more money to work games and large events at Bank of America Stadium. The move is aimed at incentivizing officers to work on their off time, so on-duty police aren't pulled away from their duties around the city in order to provide gameday traffic control and security.
A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department internal memo, obtained by WCNC Charlotte, outlines the $21 an hour (50%) pay increase for off-duty officers who work special events. The new rate, which will go into effect on March 1, is $63 an hour, according to the memo.
The pay increase comes just months after a WCNC Charlotte investigation found the previous minimum allowable rate paid by the stadium ($42 an hour) resulted in few off-duty volunteers, forcing the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to reassign on-duty officers for Carolina Panthers games. That decision often left the rest of the city with less police protection.
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Fraternal Order of Police President Daniel Redford welcomed the news.
"I think that it's a good step in the right direction," Redford said. "It's something that we've been waiting on and glad to know it's coming before a busy soccer season."
Charlotte FC will play its inaugural home soccer match on March 5. Redford credited WCNC Charlotte with playing a role in helping find a solution.
"I think really just the impact of what it was having on this city and how it was affecting officers had a lot to do with it and it seems like the chain of command took that to heart," he said.
The new rate won't just impact BOA Stadium. The internal memo shows Spectrum Center and PNC Pavilion will have to pay the "competitive" rate too, as well as venues that host events with expected attendance above 11,000 people or that require more than 25 officers.
Redford knows the extra pay won't completely prevent some on-duty officers from still getting pulled to help, but he believes the good-faith response to officers' concerns will encourage more off-duty police to work on their off days and result in better police staffing across the rest of the city on game days.
"Money talks and we're talking for one of the biggest pulls. We're talking million, billion-dollar industries that we felt needed to step up and help offset some of the pulls that were happening," Redford said. "We're happy."
CMPD initially declined to confirm specifics Wednesday morning. A spokesperson said the agency is in the process of communicating changes throughout the organization.
"They need to hear that information from us first," Lt. Steve Fischbach said.
The change is an especially big deal considering WCNC Charlotte previously surveyed police departments in every other NFL city back in the fall and found CMPD's practice of reassigning dozens of on-duty officers for games and events is uncommon.