By Scott Cunningham
Every day, thousands of citizens and organizations hire off-duty police officers to provide on-site security in the form of extra-duty employment. Since most law enforcement agencies authorize their sworn personnel to work such assignments, most agencies regulate exactly how it will be handled.
Yet even with such policies in place, oversight processes can fail, resulting in officers working for multiple vendors at the same time, being paid to not work, or not properly documenting time worked. In the end, such errors compromise the public’s perception and trust of law enforcement.
Fortunately, there’s a new way to resolve these issues: third-party administration.
There are three types of extra- or off-duty administrative options. Internally administered programs are those that are handled by agency staff. Hybrid models are programs that maintain close affiliation with the agency but are administered by collective bargaining units, employee associations, or the agency’s parent, such as the municipality. The third option is third-party vendor administration.
In this instance, although a professional administrator does all the heavy lifting (think preparing and sending out invoices, scheduling jobs, handling payroll, and even making collections calls), the agency typically retains managerial control and sets officer pay rates and equipment use fees. This may include developing rules around which officers are allowed to work extra-duty jobs and in what capacity, how many hours each officer can work off duty, and even what type of jobs can be worked.
There are numerous benefits to using a third-party vendor, some of which are not readily discernable. Most off- duty administration firms offer customized apps and platforms that are not available to agencies or municipalities. Such technology allows for enhanced notifications, greater access to information, and even 24/7 job sign-ups, a great equalizer for officers who work second or third shift.
Other benefits include:
- No agency/city-borne administrative costs
- Limited to no agency/client interactions
- On-time officer payments that are legal, compliant, and documented
- Mitigation of financial and legal risks
As long as officers are needed to provide security, control crowds, and redirect traffic, they will continue to work off duty. So it’s imperative that an agency’s extra-duty program is competently managed by an organization with the resources and personnel to eliminate an agency’s administrative burden. That way, your law enforcement personnel can move from behind a desk to what they were trained to do: safeguard the public and enforce the law.
Police Chief (Ret.) Scott Cunningham is a 38-year police professional. He has taught thousands of students in college courses, police academies, and in-service training sessions on topics such as implicit bias, leadership, policy development, and ethics. He has authored numerous articles and is the author of The Future of Policing: 200 Recommendations to Enhance Policing and Community Safety (2022).
To read the full article in NJ Police Chief Magazine (10/23), click here.