By Andria Borba

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — San Francisco police department cruisers and officers in Union Square are a common sight but those officers may not be working on the city’s tab.

A program called 10-B allows businesses, movie productions and big events to hire off-duty SFPD officers at time and a half pay to keep things safe. The 10-B program has been around since the 1970s but has been gaining in popularity in recent years.

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“Many of the retailers in the Union Square area hire 10-B police officers to watch the front door and buy them an extra layer of security,” said Karin Flood, executive director of the Union Square Business Improvement District.

In 2016, private entities paid out 114,000 hours of overtime pay. In 2017, that number shot up to 173,000 hours. Last year, the tab paid out to officers working overtime was 203,000 hours.

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“This does not come out of the city’s budget at all – this is paid for by private entities,” said SFPD spokesperson Officer Robert Rueca.

Working the extra hours is completely voluntary for the officers but, while working under 10-B, they are still full-fledge police officers using city-issued gear.

Soon there will be one more layer of security in the world-famous shopping district. The city has authorized $350,000 to hire retired SFPD officers to patrol Union Square. Unlike their former colleagues in badges and guns, these will be in plain clothes.

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“These are retired police officers that will be wearing jackets and khaki pants. They will have a radio for our program and also to the SFPD,” Flood told KPIX.