FBINAA Magazine Q1-2022-final-v4

Continued from "The Blind Spot of Administering Off-Duty Employment", on page 23

jobs afford them the same insurance that protects them while on duty. Oftentimes, however, these officers have little to no cover - age protecting them 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 provide insufficient coverage for off-duty work, leaving of - ficers the burden of covering their injuries. What’s worse, if an officer should lose his life and is not in - sured while working an off-duty assignment, his family may not re - ceive financial reparation for losing their loved one. Unfortunately, several of these off-duty related deaths have occurred throughout Arizona, Texas, and other states over the last few months. When these types of instances occur while off-duty, there is always a discrepancy within liability coverage, insurance coverage, the color of law, and the appropriate application of these policies. UNREPORTED/MISREPORTED EARNINGS A police officer 3 worked off-duty from 2015-2017, earning over $81,000; however, she only claimed only approximately $20,000 in taxes. In February 2020, the officer pled guilty to sub - mitting false tax returns that neglected to mention her off-duty work. She was required to pay the IRS $24,000 in restitution. While falsely reporting income is a serious and illegal act, it is not the only monetary impropriety that can occur with off-duty employment. For several years, a police captain 4 worked a permanent off-duty job doing security detail for a university and received his pay privately. This meant records of his off-duty hours did not exist in the city’s payroll, creating confusion around how much he worked and how much he got paid. Scenarios like this make it difficult for cities that collect a small portion from off-duty as - signments to track their officers’ off-duty earnings and the fees they owe the city. This ambiguity and ability to fly under the radar creates the opportunity for officers to underreport their earnings, thereby not reimbursing the city for fees owed and garnering negative media attention once uncovered. Still, others make headlines for rigging the system by creat- ing timecards for “ghost” off-duty assignments. An officer 5 was one of at least twelve city officers to defraud the government for thousands of dollars for shifts they either didn’t work or didn’t finish—a headline that tarnishes citizens’ trust and belief in not only the involved officers, but the entire system. WORKING TOO MANY HOURS To augment their take-home salaries with off-duty jobs, many officers end up working an excessive amount between their regular job and off-duty work. This issue is exacerbated by the limited or non-existent tracking mechanisms agencies have avail- able to them, and this excessive work often leads to diminished wellness and performance by their officers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010) shows that among all occupations, law enforcement has one of the highest levels of in - jury and illness, part of which can be attributed to excessive work hours. According to research by Dr. Perry Lyle, Ph.D. at Columbia College, staying awake over 19 hours is akin to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than .05. In most states, the legal level allowed for driving is .08. However, at 24 hours, those levels rise to 0.10. This means officers who work that long

The number of agencies making headlines due to issues arising from their off-duty programs is increasing at an alarming rate. An agency never knows when failure to track off-duty jobs will become a headache, or worse, put an agency in the head - lines. Whether double-dipping, unfair job distribution, officer fatigue, injuries, or even officer death, several off-duty issues present significant risks to agencies. Let’s dive into some of the most common reasons officers make the news working off-duty, reinforcing why agencies would be wise to make managing their off-duty program a priority sooner rather than later. DOUBLE-DIPPING Unfortunately, double-dipping is a common issue. In the Mid- west, officers received a paycheck 1 from the city while collecting a second paycheck from a local hospital where they reported work - ing off-duty for 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. This is just one situation that highlights issues caused by double-dipping or collecting pay for “working” on duty and off- duty jobs simultaneously. Most agencies have little-to-no com - munication 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 news media. LIABILITY EXPOSURE Many officers either fail to realize the liability they’re implic - itly accepting when working off-duty, or they mistakenly think the department or city/county/state will cover them if anything unexpected were to happen. However, many departments require private companies to submit “Hold Harmless” agreements, ensuring that the depart - ment or government aren’t held accountable and can step away unfazed in most scenarios placing liability squarely on officers’ shoulders. Coupled with negative exposure, this liability can be detrimental to officers in many ways, making liability exposure a blind spot with off-duty coverage. A police officer 2 made headlines when his off-duty work re - sulted in a state supreme court ruling. A local day center hired him at $40 an hour to check personal belongings for weapons, drugs, and alcohol from people entering the premises. Despite success- fully 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 he was performing maintained duties like those he exercised on duty, including making an arrest. The case went to the state Supreme Court who denied the officer a city defense, stating off-duty work was not covered under the circumstances. Stories like this are all too common. When officers sign up for off-duty work, they often do not realize the heightened levels of liability they are exposed to and the little-to-no protection city or state governments may afford them. This lack of support can turn a generously compensating off-duty assignment into an unwant - ed storm of negativity as well as a financial burden. UNCOVERED INJURIES Unfortunately, matters aren’t much different where off-duty injuries are concerned. Many officers often assume that off-duty

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