Liability can be issue for officers in part-time work
by Nikki Wiley
July 28, 2013 10:41 PM | 5543 views | 14 14 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Several off-duty Sheriff’s deputies work with Turner Chapel AME Church off Fairground Street directing traffic on Sunday mornings. Above: Investigator Keith Ray stops traffic to let pedestrians cross as they walk to church earlier this month.
Several off-duty Sheriff’s deputies work with Turner Chapel AME Church off Fairground Street directing traffic on Sunday mornings. Above: Investigator Keith Ray stops traffic to let pedestrians cross as they walk to church earlier this month.
MARIETTA — Work isn’t over for many police officers once they finish patrolling the streets, as more companies are turning to off-duty officers for added security. But the question of who assumes liability in the event an officer gets injured, or causes injury, isn’t so cut and dry.

Cobb police officers can work any part-time job, if approved by their supervisor, with the exception of those involving pawn brokers, precious metal dealers, contracted wrecker services or employers who have a lawsuit involving the county or the state, said Cobb Police Department Spokesman Mike Bowman.

And when those part-time jobs require officers to be in uniform, they have the authority to enforce laws and make arrests, even though they aren’t on the clock, because they are acting as a representative of the state and local police.

Few jobs require officers to use their patrol cars, but when they do the county pays for the fuel cost, Bowman said. When those patrol cars are handy, officers will respond to nearby high-priority calls.

Officers are allowed to work generally no more than 70 hours in a week including time at the police department and with a secondary employer, Bowman said. More hours can be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Employers or officers could face liability

Should something go awry while working off-duty, individual officers or their employer could be found at fault.

“If we have a part-time job where we are not on the clock, our insurance coverage is on us just like it is you if you are injured while not working in the scope of your employer,” Bowman said.

Justin O’Dell, a general litigation lawyer at O’Dell and O’Neal Attorneys, says if an officer acts outside of the boundaries of his job description, the officer could be personally liable for injury.

“That’s one of the reasons it’s important for employers to have very, very, very clear job descriptions,” O’Dell said.

An officer may be hired to perform security at a business, but if that officer leaves the property and takes initiative to address another issue, like a dispute heard down the street, he may become personally liable and open himself up to a potential lawsuit.

“If he acts outside the scope of the authority and something happens, he may subject himself to personal liability,” O’Dell said.

But the lines are blurred when a county patrol car comes into the picture.

Some churches hire off-duty officers to handle heavy traffic before or after worship services. Large events may do the same. Bowman says if an officer is injured while directing traffic, the hiring company is responsible.

O’Dell isn’t so sure.

“If he has been contracted by the church, but is using a county patrol car, there could be an issue regarding county liability,” O’Dell said.

Still, there’s no one answer. Regardless of who a lawsuit is aimed at, the verdict would be up to a jury unless settled before it makes it into a courtroom. Local governments and private employers, O’Dell said, may have liability insurance to protect their coffers if faced with a lawsuit.

Extra security provides peace of mind

At Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell, two or three Cobb officers patrol the park all day while it’s open. It helps make visitors feel comfortable, said Emily Murray, spokeswoman for the theme park.

“We have a close relationship with Cobb County PD, and the off-duty officers that we utilize are a wonderful addition to our security team,” Murray said.

It’s not just large theme parks hiring officers.

Many businesses, from banks to supermarkets, hire off-duty officers, though Bowman said he didn’t have exact numbers of how many companies hire Cobb officers. Some are seeking increased security, some hope a uniformed officer is a crime deterrent and others, such as large churches, need traffic control.

Town Center at Cobb, at 400 Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw, wants the off-duty police officers to enhance its existing security system, said Jennifer Walker, spokeswoman for the mall.

“In addition to maintaining 24-hour security patrol of the interior and exterior of the mall property, our management and mall security teams have an excellent relationship with the Cobb County Police Department,” Walker said.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
July 29, 2013
Can I borrow the firetruck If I promise to go to nearby fires?
Bob Bummer
July 29, 2013
Does the county have an excess number of patrol cars for officers to use for outside part time jobs? How many extra patrol cars did the taxpayers of Cobb County pay for so that officers can burn the candle at both ends? Officers make decent wages. Do police supervisors not frown on officers mismanaging their incomes that a second jobs is required? Frown upon greed? Hard work is one thing but greed is another. Take a playbook from the military and require money management classes for officers.
July 30, 2013
The supervisors don't frown on it, they take part. The higher ranking officers take all the best paying part time jobs and leave the crap or physically demanding crap for the line level folks. You would think a Major makes enough to allow the entry level folks a chance, but not in Cobb.
August 03, 2013
It is a shame that the support for police officers by the citizens that we protect has become so hostile toward us. The young men and women who work over night, weekends, and holidays make approximately $38,600. If you think that is a "decent" wage, I challenge you to come ride along with one of these officers one night. The truth is that you wouldn't make it a full shift. You would run home scared of what these officer go face-to-face with every night. They deal with the drunks, drug addicts, mentally unstable, angry husbands, angry wives, disrespectful youth, unappreciative citizens (yes, you!), and the true criminal element in our society. These officers haven't seen a pay raise in more than 6 years. As healthcare, gas, and general cost of living sky rocket, they are left behind. They watch as smaller police departments that surround Cobb County bypass a once great department in pay, education incentives, shift differential, and take home cars. They see the lack of support offered by a pathetic Board of Commissioners who have zero back bone and zero quality leadership. They go to call-to-call and wonder where is the support? The chief won't even visit the precincts to check in on the officers he supposedly leads. (He works part times , also). At least the community that we fight for and bleed for will appreciate the comments on this article, no. This is a thankless job in a thankless community, but these men and women do it anyways. Most believe it is a calling to serve. Some believe it is in their blood. The good ones do, anyway. It would be great to give those officers all the things that police departments around them are offering, but if they if they don't get it, you will not see a drop in service. Because, these officers care...about their community, about serving others and yes, about you,Bob Bummer. Shame on you!
1st amendment
July 29, 2013
Giving police officers arrest power over cars they stop on Sunday's while being paid by a church, and call it a public safety issue, is just wrong.

Allowing fast food joints to do the same thing at lunch time is also wrong. Public right of ways should have all the advantages.
July 29, 2013
peace officer working for employers other than police agencies should be required to adhere to the Sectary of states rules and regulations for security officers that also happen to be peace officers. They should not be allowed to wear their police duty uniforms nor use marked police cars.and surely the tax payers shouldn't be footing the bill, because in the secondary employment they are not police officers acting on behalf of the people they are acting on the behalf of the other employer, and are vested with a whole different type of authority, ie a police officer doesn't have the authority to remove someone from private property, but a security officer acting as agents of the owner do. It is unlawful for a police officer to receive out side c

July 30, 2013
Just had to comment on your ill informed statement about a police officer "not having the authority to remove someone from private property." They absolutely can at the direction of the property owner (which then makes them an agent of the owner). This is no different than the owner asking the wanna be to remove someone.
August 01, 2013
your re partly correct DOh , but On his own an officer can not , As i stated only an agent of the owner has that authority, so are you cop or agent of the owner

A cop - can be employed as a security officer

§ 16-10-3. Using private funds for law enforcement; off-duty employment of law enforcement officers

(b) Except as otherwise provided in this Code section, any officer or employee of a political subdivision who receives from any private person, firm, or corporation funds or other things of value to be used in the enforcement of the penal laws or regulations of the political subdivision of which he is an officer or employee is guilty of a misdemeanor.

§ 43-38-14. Exceptions to operation of chapter; local regulation

(b) Any person with a valid peace officer certification issued pursuant to Chapter 8 of Title 35, the "Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Act," who is employed by or works as an independent contractor for a licensed:

(1) Private security business shall be exempt from any training provisions required by this chapter for such business and shall be deemed to have satisfied all board rules and regulations relative to training; and

(2) Private detective business or private security business shall be exempt from further licensure under this chapter and shall be permitted to carry a firearm without obtaining any weapons permit from the board; provided, however, that such licensed private detective business or private security business shall be required to register such employee or independent contractor with the board.
Just Wait
July 29, 2013
The real concern here is that these men and women don't make enough money at an already dangerous and life threatening job that they have to take part time work to make ends meet. Add to that, if they should get hurt on a second job, they then have to worry about paying medical bills and potential loss of pay if they can't get back to work for the PD.
July 29, 2013
"An officer may be hired to perform security at a business, but if that officer leaves the property and takes initiative to address another issue, like a dispute heard down the street, he may become personally liable and open himself up to a potential lawsuit."

Since when is handling a loud dispute outside the scope of the police? I would hope that somebody alerts the officers about this so that they can stop responding to those types of calls.
July 29, 2013
All the more reason why police officers should have to work for a licensed, bonded (under PLEB) security company. All licensed security companies' must have a $1 million liability policy, provide their own vehicles (if needed), and they also take out taxes- something many of these "extra jobs" often don't do.

A police officer working security as an "extra job" should be NO DIFFERENT than any other private security officer. After all, the employer is ultimately liable, and if an officer is doing so on their own, they have no protection, and the businesses who hire them also take on all the liability, not the county.

The case of the off-duty DeKalb county PD officer working security at an apartment complex is a great example of what can happen when things go bad.

The state needs to step in and remind agencies that anyone working security needs to meet PLEB requirements for this very reason, police officer or not. It sure isn't fair to the many security companies who spent a ton of money meeting the licensing requirements only to have their business taken away by "rogue" officers who are operating outside and above state law.
The Law
July 30, 2013
Police officers working extra jobs are not "rouge" officers violating the law. OCGA 16-10-3 says the following:

(c) Nothing contained within this Code section shall be deemed or construed so as to prohibit any law enforcement officer of the state or any political subdivision thereof:

(1) From being employed by private persons, firms, or corporations during his off-duty hours when such employment is approved in writing by the chief or head, or his duly designated agent, of the law enforcement agency by which such law enforcement officer is employed;

Get your facts straight before you misstate law and give the public the impression that officers are acting illegally working these jobs!!!!

This is an example why people hire real police rather than rent-a-cops. Police are trained in the law.
More Law
July 30, 2013
Further, there is plenty of case law that states that police officers are considered police officers 24/7. See the following quotes the from the Georgia Court of Appeals:

"Although [the officer] was neither in [his county of appointment] nor on duty, as a law enforcement officer he had “a full-time duty to maintain the peace. [Cit.]” Animashaun v. State, 207 Ga. App. 156, 158 (1) (427 SE2d 532) (1993). Delong v. Domenici, 271 Ga. App. 757 (2005).

Further, the court of appeals stated "In Duncan v. State, 163 Ga. App. 148 (1) (294 SE2d 365), a case involving a deputy sheriff, off-duty in uniform, employed as a bouncer by a motel bar, this court held that "all law enforcement officers have the general duty to enforce the law and maintain the peace. They carry this duty twenty-four hours a day, on and off duty. It is true that the deputy in this case was discharging the duties of his private employment when he escorted appellant from the establishment, but we believe that when appellant became unruly and threatened to breach the peace, the deputy had an official duty, in addition to his private employment duty, to take action. . . . A holding that law enforcement officers have no official duty to maintain the peace under these circumstances would be in contravention of the policy we seek to further." "A police officer discharges his lawful duty when he arrests an individual who has committed a crime in his presence. . . ." Brown v. State, 163 Ga. App. 209, 212 (294 SE2d 305). Carr v. State, 176 Ga. App. 113 (1985).

Again, get your facts straight before you make completely incorrect statements of law!
July 29, 2013
There is an off-duty officer at a grocery store I frequent that is, no other way to say it, as screwed up as a Christmas turkey. He is not that old, but he is senile. When I get away from this talkative bird, and the bird will talk to any customer willing to talk, I leave praying for those people that come under his command while he is on actual duty. GZ except in uniform.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides