Off-duty employment programs: What agencies don’t know will hurt them (2024)

Extra jobs are common among cops, but they can be risky in more ways than one. Leaders must consider the following liabilities if they want to avoid making the news

By Brian Manley

Thousands of officers across the nation work supplemental off-duty assignments. Much like full-time policing, secondary employment carries potential risk and liability. It only takes a single off-duty mistake to land an officer in the news. Negative press not only misrepresents the nature of off-duty jobs and tarnishes reputations, but it also diminishes trust in police officers and the jurisdictions that employ them.

Unfortunately, off-duty work policies are often a blind spot for police leaders. Many administrators are unaware of the physical, legal and liability dangers officers may bring upon themselves and their agency until it’s too late. The number of agencies making headlines due to issues arising from off-duty programs is increasing at an alarming pace. An agency never knows when failure to track off-duty jobs will become a headache or generate negative press.

Significant risks of off-duty employment include double-dipping, unfair job distribution, officer fatigue, injuries, or even officer death. Let’s dive into some of these common reasons officers make the news for working off-duty. Police leaders must be aware of these dangers to avoid missteps or mitigate a worst-case scenario.

Double-dipping

Unfortunately, double-dipping is a common issue. In 2019, it came out that officers in Indiana received both a paycheck from the police department and a second paycheck from a local hospital where they reported working off-duty during the same hours. When confronted, the officers were required to reimburse what the city had paid them for those hours, plus over $2,500 each for the cost of the investigation [1].

This is just one situation that highlights issues caused by double-dipping or collecting pay for “working” duty and off-duty jobs simultaneously. Most agencies have little to no communication between off-duty and on-duty scheduling systems, making it easy to claim scheduled hours for two shifts at one time. This becomes easy fodder for the morning news.

Liability exposure

Many officers either fail to realize the liability they’re implicitly accepting when working off duty, or they mistakenly think their department or city will cover them if anything unexpected were to happen. However, many departments require private companies to submit “Hold Harmless” agreements. These agreements ensure that the department or municipality isn’t held accountable and can step away unfazed in most scenarios, placing liability squarely on the officer’s shoulders.

In 2021, a police officer made headlines when his off-duty work resulted in a state supreme court ruling. A local day center hired him at $40 per hour to check visitors’ personal belongings for weapons, drugs and alcohol. Despite successfully screening every other individual, one perpetrator managed to smuggle in a weapon that was used to stab someone. The victim sued the officer, who expected the city to provide his legal defense. The officer believed he was entitled to this defense since the off-duty work involved responsibilities like those he exercised on duty, including making an arrest. The case went to the state supreme court where justices denied the officer a city defense, stating that off-duty work was not covered under the circumstances [2].

When officers sign up for off-duty work, they often do not realize they face heightened liability with limited legal protections. A comfortable secondary job can quickly become a storm of negativity and a financial burden.

Uncovered injuries

Unfortunately, off-duty injuries are handled similarly to liability exposure. Many officers incorrectly assume that off-duty jobs afford them the same insurance that protects them while on duty. In reality, most off-duty jobs offer little to no coverage to protect officers from harm. Some agencies may require a Certificate of Insurance (COI) from off-duty employers, but COIs do little in providing actual protection and can easily be falsified. Most COIs provide insufficient coverage for off-duty work, leaving officers the burden of covering their injuries.

What’s more, if an officer should lose his life and is not insured while working off-duty, his family may not receive financial reparation for losing their loved one. Unfortunately, several off-duty work-related deaths have occurred throughout Arizona, Texas and other states in the past few months. When these types of instances occur, there is usually a discrepancy between liability coverage, insurance coverage, the color of law and the appropriate application of these policies.

Unreported/misreported earnings

A police officer worked off-duty from 2015 to 2017, earning over $81,000. However, she only claimed approximately $20,000 when filing taxes. In February 2020, the officer pled guilty to submitting false tax returns that underreported her off-duty earnings. She was required to pay the IRS $24,000 in restitution [3].

In another case, a police captain received his pay “off the books” for his off-duty security job at a university. This meant records of his off-duty hours did not exist in the city’s payroll, creating confusion about how much he worked and how much he was paid [4]. Scenarios like this make it difficult for cities to track their officers’ off-duty earnings and the fees officers owe the city. This ability to fly under the radar creates opportunities for officers to underreport their earnings and avoid reimbursing the city for fees owed. This of course garners negative media attention once discovered.

Another way officers make headlines is by creating timecards for “ghost” off-duty assignments. Between 2014 and 2016, a police officer was one of at least 12 city cops to defraud the government of thousands of dollars for shifts they either didn’t work or didn’t finish. This not only tarnishes citizens’ trust in the involved officers but in the entire system [5].

Officer fatigue

To augment their take-home salaries, many officers end up working an excessive amount between their regular job and off-duty work. This issue is exacerbated when agencies fail to properly track off-duty hours. Too much work often leads to diminished wellness and performance among officers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010) shows that among all occupations, law enforcement has one of the highest levels of injury and illness, part of which can be attributed to excessive work hours. According to research by Perry Lyle, Ph.D., staying awake for more than 19 hours is akin to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than .05. In most states, the legal level for driving is .08. However, after 24 hours without sleep, BAC levels rise to 0.10. Officers who work that long may have their skills negatively impacted to the same extent as drunk drivers. The headlines prove it.

In 2018, a police officer made the news when she worked a total of 15 hours one night between regular and off-duty jobs. When she returned home, she got off on the wrong floor of her apartment building and entered a unit she thought was hers. When she encountered the tenant, she believed him to be an intruder and fatally shot him. Prosecutors made the case that her decision-making ability was affected by working an excessive number of hours [6].

Solving off-duty policy blind spots

Off-duty employment is important for law enforcement agencies, police officers and local businesses. Off-duty work strengthens bonds between local businesses and agencies while allowing officers to gain extra income. According to recent major city audits, most problems with off-duty employment are due to one simple and completely avoidable blind spot: failure to establish a centrally administered program that ensures transparency, oversight, and accountability for off-duty assignments.

Tackling all tasks related to off-duty programs is something most law enforcement leaders do not have the time or the resources to do. Managing inbound service requests, scheduling jobs, recording time and attendance, and monitoring payroll/invoicing are just a few administrative functions that can cause departmental headaches. But there are several ways agencies small and large can approach their off-duty strategy.

One option is to eliminate off-duty programs altogether and not allow officers to work second jobs. This action is not advisable because it eliminates the opportunity for privately owned businesses to increase their security, which in turn increases the public’s sense of security. Banning second jobs also limits officers’ ability to supplement their income.

Another option is to designate an in-house procedure to handle scheduling, invoicing, payroll and insurance. While this may be viable for some agencies, it requires a significant amount of time and resources. Agencies should expect to pay for dedicated staff to supervise the overall operation of an off-duty program. This can be costly.

If providing staff to run an entire off-duty program is too pricey, software can be a more economical option. Multiple tools can distribute job notifications, stamp attendance and show the location of each officer working an off-duty assignment. However, agencies must be aware of the associated costs. There will still be a need for an in-house program administrator, supervision and related expenses to run the program, plus unmitigated liability exposure.

The best option may be to hire a third-party, all-inclusive administrator to manage the off-duty program at no cost to the agency or officers. A third-party company can provide a systematic, customer service-oriented plan to manage scheduling, payroll, reporting, workers’ compensation and liability insurance in line with the current agency policies and procedures. Some agencies are hesitant to consider this approach because they think they are giving up control of their program. In fact, off-duty service providers incorporate all the agency’s existing policies to ensure officers’ full adherence while giving agencies optimal transparency, accountability, and oversight of their off-duty program.

No matter which option agencies choose, one thing is clear when it comes to an off-duty work solution: policies need to be developed to prevent dangerous blind spots from subjecting your agency to negative headlines and public scrutiny. Agencies would be wise to make managing their off-duty program a priority sooner rather than later.

References

1. Kenney K. City of Columbus paid officers thousands while they worked at hospital, reports show. WRTV Indianapolis.

2. Chhith A. Minnesota Supreme Court says off-duty St. Paul cop not entitled to city defense. Star Tribune.

3. Department of Justice. Cincinnati police officer pleads guilty to failing to claim off-duty detail cash earnings on her tax returns.

4. Iannelli J. Miami cops make nearly $20 million a year in shady overtime security jobs. Miami New Times.

5. 12th Jersey City officer pleads guilty in off-duty jobs scam. Associated Press.

6. Tsiaperas T, Wilonsky R. Dallas cops are working too much at off-duty jobs, and city lacks controls to prevent it, audit says.The Dallas Morning News.

About the author
Brian Manley is president of Off Duty Management and a retired chief of police of Austin, Texas.He served in the Austin Police Department for 30 years and led over 2,500 sworn law enforcement and support personnel. In 2019, Chief Manley was recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the “World’s Greatest Leaders.”

After retiring from the Austin Police Department, Chief Manley found an opportunity with Off Duty Management, a company focused on protecting officers from the potential liabilities they face while working off-duty.

Manley earned a BBA in finance from the University of Texas and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Ethics (MSOLE) from St. Edward’s University. He is a graduate of the Major Cities Chiefs Association Police Executive Leadership Institute and taught as an adjunct professor in the St. Edward’s University Criminal Justice program where hewas awarded the School of Behavioral and Social Sciences 2012 Outstanding Adjunct Award.

  1. Tags
  2. Command Staff - Chiefs / Sheriffs
  3. Law Enforcement Policies
  4. Legal
  5. Off Duty
  6. Officer Misconduct / Internal Affairs
Off-duty employment programs: What agencies don’t know will hurt them (2024)

FAQs

Off-duty employment programs: What agencies don’t know will hurt them? ›

CARRYING EQUIPMENT OFF DUTY:

When off duty, officers will carry or have in their immediate possession their issued identification card. Officers may carry Ffirearms or, Department-issued chemical agents, or Electronic Control Weapons devices may be carried by officers when off- duty at their discretion.

Can off duty cops carry guns in California? ›

CARRYING EQUIPMENT OFF DUTY:

When off duty, officers will carry or have in their immediate possession their issued identification card. Officers may carry Ffirearms or, Department-issued chemical agents, or Electronic Control Weapons devices may be carried by officers when off- duty at their discretion.

Can you refuse to show ID to police Texas? ›

Texas Criminal Law. The Failure to Identify crime in the state of Texas requires you to provide police officers your name and certain other identifying information when you have been arrested.

How do I report police misconduct to the FBI? ›

If you have a complaint of police brutality or the abuse of your rights by the police or other public officials, contact the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), listed in the front of your telephone directory under police, or write to the Department of Justice at the address above.

What does off duty employment mean? ›

The term “off-duty employment” means business activities and compensated outside employment, such as the sale of insurance, real estate, cosmetics, or self-employment income.

Can off duty police carry guns at Disney World? ›

Disney Law Enforcement Gun Policy

According to the Disney parks rules and regulations, no guns, firearms, etc. are allows at their parks. This does include off-duty law enforcement. Disney has police patrolling their premises and SWAT units that practice sporadically.

Can retired FBI agents carry guns? ›

LEOSA allows qualified active, retired or separated Law Enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the U.S. or U.S. Territories regardless of state or local laws.

Can a police officer ask for your ID if you are a passenger in Texas? ›

Passenger in A Vehicle

A police officer can request identification from the passengers. But if there was no reason for them to confront you, it is not required that you provide your information.

Do I have the right to record the police in Texas? ›

It is important to note that while it is legal to take recordings of police and others in a public place, police officers may ask those who are recording to step away from the scene if they feel that person is interfering with police business. In cases such as these, those recording an interaction must comply.

Is Texas a stand your ground state? ›

Texas Law. Texas has a stand your ground law which removes the duty to retreat before using deadly force if the person is in a place they have a right to be, is not engaged in criminal activity, and has not provoked his or her assailant.

What is the most common complaint against police? ›

The most common state claims brought against police officers are for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and use of excessive or unreasonable force.

Are FBI tips really anonymous? ›

You are not required to provide your name or other personal information; however, your failure to supply requested information may impede or preclude the investigation of your tip by law enforcement agencies.

Does the FBI report to the police? ›

Within the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI is responsible to the attorney general, and it reports its findings to U.S. Attorneys across the country. The FBI's intelligence activities are overseen by the Director of National Intelligence.

Can a manager clock you out without your knowledge? ›

These actions are unlawful and violations of the labor code. Your employer cannot clock you out without your knowledge. Employees who work off the clock can file a wage and hour lawsuit and seek compensation for unpaid wages.

Can I get fired for fighting outside of work? ›

Employee conduct outside the workplace may be a reason for termination under certain circumstances. If your actions violate the law or affect the company you work for, you could lose your job.

Can my boss talk about my personal life? ›

Unless your personal life is interfering with your ability to do your job, it's your prerogative to keep it private.

Why is open carry illegal in Florida? ›

If you display a handgun in a situation that cannot be legally justified as self-defense (according to Florida Statutes 776.012 and/or 776.032), you could be subject to criminal charges. Therefore, firearms cannot be openly carried.

Can you conceal carry in Disney hotels? ›

A: No. Guests are not permitted to have firearms, ammunition, knives or weapons of any kind at or in Disney Resort Hotels and Disney Vacation Club Resorts, including in hotel rooms, units, vacation home villas and general public areas within the hotels and resorts.

Can police bring gun on cruise? ›

Can a police officer travel with a gun in cruise ship? - Quora. No. Only cruise ship staff may carry arms. And they usually only do that when a ship is in a questionable port or during a shipboard emergency at sea where coast guard or other law enforcement can not respond quickly.

What gun do US Marshals carry? ›

Firearms and protective gear

The primary handgun for marshals are either a Glock 17M or Glock 19M. Deputy Marshals may also carry a backup gun, but it must meet certain requirements.

What gun does the CIA use? ›

The CIA prefers the Glock 19 as its weapon of choice, with its 9mm rounds, but operatives have access to a wide variety of other calibers within the Glock platform to choose from, if so desired. Some prefer the higher . 45 caliber Glock 30. Move over, James Bond, for the Sig Sauer's P228 is another favorite.

Can veterans affairs police pull you over? ›

Are VA police officers armed and can they make arrests? Police officers employed by the VA are considered to be federal law enforcement officers who are armed and have the authority to enforce all federal laws and VA rules.

When a law enforcement vehicle flashes its lights behind you you should? ›

As soon as you see the police officer's flashing lights or hear the car's siren, turn on your own emergency flashers. This will inform other drivers that you are the driver who is being pulled over and alert them that you will be slowing down in preparation to pull over. Search for a safe location to park your car.

Why do police ask for name and date of birth? ›

They want to know your identification because they need to document people they come into contact with, especially if they think they have committed a crime. They ask for your date of birth because that is an efficient way to find someone in a database.

Is stop and frisk legal in Texas? ›

Under the law, police officers have the right to temporarily detain an individual and pat him or her down to determine if they are carrying a weapon. Legally, this may be done only if law enforcement has a reasonable suspicion that the individual is armed and can potentially pose a threat to others.

Can I sue someone for recording me without my permission in Texas? ›

Proc. Code § 18.20. Therefore, you may be able to record in-person conversations occurring in a public place, such as a street or a restaurant, without consent. In addition to subjecting you to criminal prosecution, violating the wiretapping law can expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages by an injured party.

Can your neighbor record you in Texas? ›

Texas is considered a "one-party consent" state. This means that unless at least one of the parties to a conversation consents, both Texas and federal wiretapping laws make it a crime to record an audio conversation, either in person or over the phone, if the parties have a "reasonable expectation of privacy."

Do you have to inform someone you are recording them in Texas? ›

In Texas, it is not illegal to record a conversation if you are one of the parties on the call. Texas is a one-party consent state, which means you can record a conversation you are a part of without telling the other person in the conversation that you are recording them.

Can you point a gun at someone on your property in Texas? ›

Yes. Under Penal Code 9.04, you can draw a weapon and threaten a person if you are justified in using force. Note the requirement is not that you had to be justified in using deadly force.

What is the castle law in Texas? ›

Texas's Castle Doctrine affords people with the legal right to self-defense when in a private space such as their home or vehicle. The individual's legal right to self-defense also applies when they're compelled to defend their property.

Is it illegal to walk around without a shirt in Texas? ›

Going clothes-free in public is a quick way to get slapped with an indecent exposure charge. Adults simply walking around nude in Texas are considered to be committing indecent exposure in most cases. Texas law says the crime consists of exposing any part of one's genitals or anus to another in order to arouse them.

What are examples of corrupt police officers? ›

10 Examples of Police Misconduct To Refer to for Your Case
  • Use of excessive force.
  • Tampering with evidence.
  • Police brutality.
  • Mishandling evidence.
  • Coerced confessions.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Lying on police reports.
  • False imprisonment or arrest.
Sep 14, 2022

What are the three types of police abuse of authority? ›

Here are three common examples of police misconduct.
  • False Arrests From Illegal Search and Seizures. One of the most common ways police abuse their power is through false arrest. ...
  • Excessive or Unreasonable Force. ...
  • Misuse of Position or Power.
Oct 26, 2018

What is unethical behavior in the police department? ›

Examples of police misconduct include police brutality, dishonesty, fraud, coercion, torture to force confessions, abuse of authority, and sexual assault, including the demand for sexual favors in exchange for leniency. Any of these actions can increase the likelihood of a wrongful conviction.

Does the FBI watch your searches? ›

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. The FBI does have the right to remotely access a citizen's computer and delete harmful software when there is an urgent threat. Additionally, they can often view a citizen's browsing history without a warrant.

Does the FBI listen to conversations? ›

A regular phone call or text message is a conversation between two phones. But when federal agents need to listen in - usually to search for evidence in a crime - they'll go to a judge and ask for permission to tap your phone. "Basically, it's somewhat similar to a search warrant.

How do you know if the feds are investigating you? ›

Subpoenas or Search Warrants

One of the most obvious signs that you are under federal investigation is being served with a subpoena or search warrant. Investigative agency subpoenas require individuals to provide testimony or documents to a grand jury or other investigative body.

What does the FBI investigate the most? ›

Terrorism. To counter terrorism, the FBI's top investigative priority, we use our investigative and intelligence capabilities to neutralize domestic extremists and help dismantle terrorist networks worldwide.

Does the FBI share information with other agencies? ›

The FBI routinely cooperates and works closely with all federal law enforcement agencies on joint investigations and through formal task forces—both national and local—that address broad crime problems and national security threats.

Do cops carry their badge off duty? ›

When carrying firearms while off-duty officers shall also carry their department-issued badge and identification. Officers should refrain from carrying firearms when the consumption of alcohol is likely or when the need to carry a firearm is outweighed by safety considerations.

Can LAPD carry off duty? ›

The civilian Police Commission, which oversees the department, voted Tuesday in favor of the policy. The change prohibits officers who are carrying firearms while off duty from drinking “to the extent that it causes impairment.” The policy, however, limits who must submit to a test of their blood-alcohol level.

Can I buy a off roster gun in Cali from police officer in California? ›

Handguns not certified by DOJ's list are known as “off roster,” and are unlawful to purchase or sell in California. However, there's a loophole in California's illegal firearms law — law enforcement officers are exempted and allowed to buy off-roster guns for their personal use.

Can armed security carry off duty in California? ›

Yes. But only within duty hours. Licensed security officers and security Guards can carry guns during their duty hours and should NOT carry them after their duty. Security guards are allowed to carry guns either openly or hidden from the public.

References

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