Associate Magazine - FBINAA - Q4 - 2022
FBINAA FBI National Academy Associates, Inc. Strategic AMBASSADOR LEVEL Alliance 2022
Continued from "Making Ends Meet: An Officer's Perspective", on page 22
they most likely have not been trained in the differences between a 401k or the 457 plan, let alone how to allocate the right amount of funds to reach their retirement goals in the turmoil of a fluctuat ing economy. Especially in the case of younger officers, their first pay checks from the department may very well be the most consis tent pay they have ever had. The temptation to spend what’s left after the bills are paid on material items will easily overcome any forethought on their lifestyle decades away. As agency leaders, it is important to consider the perspectives of officers and how they might not be considering the risks involved in off-duty work. LIABILITY RISK When it comes to working off-duty, mitigating risk may not be on the top of an officer’s priority list or on the list at all. Their training is based on running toward risk, not away from it. As such, their off-duty job priorities are more likely to include: if they can work, how much are they going to get paid, and when are they getting paid? Unfortunately, off-duty job liability risks are a real world threat that officers must consider when accepting a job. A simple Google search shows headlines every month about officers being hurt or killed while working an off-duty job. In many cases, the officer or the officer’s family may receive little or no liability payout, workers’ compensation, or life insurance benefits. Most LEOs assume they are acting as a protected officer of the law no matter who they are being paid by, but it is often too late that the officer discovers this is not true. The general liability coverage that protects sworn officers during their on-duty shifts rarely covers the officer when they work off-duty for a community business. If an officer isn’t fully informed of that lack of liability protection, they will be unable to make informed decisions on the job. Agencies must be clear with their officers about the limited liability protection they have when working off-duty to make informed decisions. Some officers may also assume that an off-duty job will have less risk than while on-duty. After all, we’re in a hotel lobby, not on the streets making traffic stops. We’re protecting a confined area, versus the daily patrol across city blocks. Off-duty appears less risky because officers aren’t responding to calls about a crisis in progress, we are simply there to prevent a crisis from occurring in the first place. However, this is also a misconception. Off-duty jobs can quickly become dangerous. Venues like sports arenas, concert halls, schools, and even church ice cream socials are all places in which off-duty job incidents have been tied to incidents in the headlines. ADMINISTRATIVE DUTIES One of the biggest limitations facing agencies is a lack of information on how off-duty administration operates. From a professional standpoint, an officer’s priorities are simple when it comes to off-duty jobs: Am I going to work this job? How much am I going to be paid? When am I going to be paid? The administrative details of how those questions are answered are an afterthought. Savvy agencies are aware that jobs should be vetted based on rules and regulations. This could include the number of officers re quired based on the type of assignment, the necessary supervisor to-officer ratio, and even securing payment details in advance. However, extensive reporting options and administrative staff are not resources that most agencies have.
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Many officers across the country working off-duty essen tially view themselves as private contractors. These officers set the details of their employment with a great deal of freedom and ease, but with no clear direction from agency policy or oversight. They could be setting their pay rate, directly fielding the jobs, or even promoting their services on the job. To a lot of officers, that freedom is viewed as a positive. Officers naturally want control over their off-duty jobs but usually aren’t interested in the burden of scheduling jobs and organizing administrative processes. The truth is, proper administration of details like clock-in/ out, job location/hours, and terms of employment will be a lifeline to officers and agencies in case of a dispute or investigation. No longer does law enforcement operate in the days of “I’ll get back to you.” Agency leaders need access to off-duty job details quickly. When officers are tasked with managing their job administration what appeared to be freedom turns out to be a burden. If I were to work off-duty security at a concert or some kind of party with a buddy from the agency and things go wrong, the situ ation is going to be investigated. One question they will ask is if there were enough officers working to handle that situation from the start. As an officer you're playing the odds, running towards danger instead of away from it. My buddy and I assumed we could handle things; however, proper administration may have helped identify that the job should have involved more than just two of ficers. Experience shows that proper oversight and policy enforce ment makes significant strides to prevent dangerous incidents from occurring. In the world of off-duty jobs, it’s critical. Policies and best practices are there for a reason. History teaches us what mistakes to avoid ensuring a safer and more prosperous future moving forward. When an administration implements policies, it isn’t to prevent them frommaking career decisions; it’s to ensure they have a long career to make those decisions. Just like laws that officers enforce every day, off-duty best practices are there to support officers physically, professionally, and financially. Proper screening of job requests is also a concern that should be on most officers' minds. Whether a DUI grant or work ing security for a nightclub, most officers simply want to work. Although at the beginning of their careers, officers may not be as concerned with whom they are working. This mindset is apt to change once something goes wrong on an off-duty job. Those of us who have been in the profession for a considerable amount of time can tell you that things go wrong. If an officer agrees to work a job for somebody, and an agency doesn't have a strong policy in place about what officers can do and how they can represent their agency, then officers and agencies can quickly run into issues. DELINQUENT PAYMENTS Delinquent pay by off-duty job employers is a real problem. Those of us who have been in the accreditation system for a long time may not have much experience with it due to the rules set in place by our policies, but for many officers, working hours that ultimately go unpaid is a real possibility. A company might tell the officer they will be paid promptly, but headlines show numerous
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