Regardless of the circumstances, most of us are uncomfortable disagreeing
with law enforcement officers. For obvious and appropriate reasons, our
society is built upon the rule of law, and predicated on its members respecting
and complying with those with the sworn authority to enforce those laws.
However, what happens when there is a disagreement with an officer working
in an off-duty capacity, independent from his or her licensing agency?
How should your business respond if an officer providing a contracted service
acts inappropriately while at your facility, or over bills for their time?
Or conversely, what recourse do officers have when working a secondary
employment detail and find themselves struggling to receive payment for
services rendered to an individual or business? Situations such as these
can cause serious, long-term public relations concerns for both the officer's
agency and the citizens and businesses within their jurisdictions.
Off-Duty Security Services Are Growing Increasingly Popular
It is no surprise that incidents such as those described above are becoming
U.S. companies increasingly rely on local off-duty peace officers to perform
armed security and traffic control services, rather than engaging traditional
uniformed security guards and guard companies. Conservative estimates
indicate that each year, police officers in the U.S. perform nearly 100
million hours of service through secondary-employment opportunities worth
over $3 billion dollars annually.
In most instances, those in need of an officer contact their local agency
or a known representative and make a simple verbal request for an officer
to appear at a specific location, at a designated time and states the
requested services to be performed.
The vast majority of these hours of service are performed without formal
documentation of details normally found in simple service agreements such as:
- Requested service
- Designation of liability
- Terms of payment
Common Issues for Businesses
Common issues businesses encounter with officers working off-duty are:
- Excessive hourly rates
- Subpar service
Most businesses are reluctant to dispute an officer's demand for payment
out of fear of reprisals from the officer and fellow officers. The real
or imagined consequences of a business damaging its relationship with
a local law enforcement agency preclude many from engaging with the officer
as they would a typical vendor.
Common Issues for Officers
Similarly, officers working secondary employment details often have difficulty
navigating corporate waters. Some cops express frustration when working
with businesses requiring them to report to multiple points of contact
who provide conflicting instructions. Others cite payment delays or outright
failure to compensate them. The vast majority of officers working off-duty
security in the U.S. are doing so as independent contractors or sole-proprietors
with little to no knowledge of common terms of payment or institutional
risk. Officers are generally unfamiliar with the “civil” remedies
available that other contractors rely on such as liens and instead refer
to “criminal” statutes more familiar to them to force payment,
such as Theft of Service.
Involvement of Law Enforcement Agencies
Many law enforcement agencies are finding it necessary, advantageous even,
to charge administrative fees to those procuring the services of their
officers when performing off-duty, contracted security services. These
fees are charged by departments to offset expenses they incur administering
off-duty work by their officers. Fees commonly include charges for scheduling
and monitoring activities by designated agency contacts or secondary employment
units, as well as the increased wear on department issued uniforms or
equipment. Some fees also offset the agency’s increased liability
for use-of-force during outside employment.
As law enforcement agencies increasingly take on the responsibility of
managing their officers secondary employment activities, they are finding
themselves dealing with common difficulties all service providers experience
through the normal course of business. However, how far can or should
a law enforcement agency go to collect payment from a private citizen
or business entity, in remuneration for services provided by an officer
working an “extra-duty” or “off-duty” job? Some
might suggest that such debt collection activities diminish or dilute
the standard of impartiality that a nation requires of those enforcing our laws.
Benefit of Involving Third Party Providers
The scenarios described above are just a few examples of why both businesses
and law enforcement agencies are choosing to partner with third party
providers to manage their off-duty programs. A competent and trusted solutions
provider enables both parties to focus on their core mission, while ensuring
that the needs and integrity of the officers, their agencies and the recipient
of the services are being met.
ATHOS Group is a national security consulting and management firm specializing
in providing, local, off-duty peace officers to deliver security services
at industrial, commercial, restaurant, and retail properties.