CA law does typically require that overtime be paid for all hours exceeding 8 per day, so the employer should be paying employees time and 1/2 for the excess hours, even if they do not work 40 hours in a workweek normally.
Police officers have specifically been found to be non-exempt workers by CA courts and should be paid overtime in this manner typically.
Here is a link that summarizes state law and sets out various exemptions to the overtime rules:
A wage claim could be filed with the state labor board, or you could retain a local employment law attorney to communicate a demand to the employer or take legal action. If there are a significant number of employees affected by the employer's practice, then I would normally retain an attorney collectively as you could share in the cost of retaining an attorney so it would be less expensive for each employee involved.
The state and local bar associations can provide attorney referrals for you.
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