Hundreds of detention officers get up to $2 million in back pay

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PHOENIX – About 1,700 detention officers, many who work at the Fourth Avenue Jail, say Monday was an exciting day.

The officers were able to take home bonus checks, which is money they earned years ago and are finally being paid for.

Bruce Phillips, a detention officer, tells 3TV, “We get an opportunity to get a little extra to bridge a gap we've had. It's a good thing.”

Maricopa County officials say the money these detention officers are receiving is actually money owed to them from work they did and never got paid for between 2007 and 2009.

Cari Gerchick, with Maricopa County, explains, “Under the Fair Labor and Standards Act, that's not acceptable.”

Gerchick says that after a 10-month investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, it was discovered that close to 1,700 detention officers were owed more than $2 million in back pay. Gerchick says, “The checks range from $300 to $3,000 so what you see is Maricopa County honoring its commitment to pay its employees for work done.”

For months there has been a huge tug-of-war between county members and the sheriff for these funds and county officials blame Sheriff Joe Arpaio for not wanting to pay the overtime.

The sheriff responded by saying the county is just trying to hurt everybody's morale.

Monday was not the only day to pick up the back pay checks. They will be available again Tuesday at the county's office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you think some of that money is owed to you, the county will have a link on its website on Wednesday where you can submit your information to see if a check is waiting for you.