Monday, March 09, 2009

Brown's Secondary Employment Proposal Gets A Second Look

When I applauded Councilor Vernon Brown's proposal last year to set up a secondary employment unit to supervise off-duty police work within IMPD and collect fees from private security companies who utilize their services, my fellow Republicans and the Ballard administration dismissed the idea. In the wake of the OmniSource raid a couple of weeks back where more than 50 off-duty police officers worked, the Ballard administration is taking a second look at Brown's proposal. Republican council members (who worked for the police department) and the police union opposed it, claiming it would make hiring off-duty police officers uneconomical. No, it means that private security firms aren't going to make such huge profits from renting out our cops and their police cruisers for their personal gain. The Star's Brendan O'Shaughnessy reports on the Ballard administration's change of heart:

Under Brown's proposal, the new unit, which would be a division of the city's Public Safety Department, would charge an hourly fee of $5 whenever a uniformed officer was hired to provide security at a business and $10 per hour if the job included the use of a patrol car. The company would still pay the officer separately, typically about $25 to $35 an hour.


At this point, no rates have been set. But Brown, a Democrat, said similar systems in place across the country allow cities to recoup the expenses associated with using patrol cars and other city property.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has issued off-duty work permits to about 850 of its 1,700 officers. These officers typically take jobs providing security in hospitals and schools and outside bars and nightclubs. Under existing policy, officers cannot work at strip clubs, adult bookstores or any business involved in "illegal activity." Supervisors must approve all off-duty jobs . . .

Brown's proposal to provide greater oversight of moonlighting officers never advanced beyond committee, but he said there is more interest in it now in the aftermath of the raid last month at OmniSource, a metal-recycling company. . .

Scott Newman, the city's public safety director, met with Brown and other council members even before the raid about the potential of reviving Brown's proposal in some way.

8 comments:

Indy4U2C said...

I wonder if Vern Brown's proposal would apply to firemen...for example: getting a no-bid city contract for concrete work by a fireman's company at the airport? -Or does state law about Official Misconduct, bribery, racketeering apply?

Advance Indiana said...

I'm really getting sick and tired of Republicans bringing up Monroe Gray. If he did something illegal, why didn't Carl Brizzi indict him? There are current Republican councilors who have nothing over Gray when it comes to ethics. Republicans should clean up their own house before they knock the Democrats. I'm embarrassed as a Republican for the conduct of some of our councilors.

spooknp said...

Well, I see a few issues here:

#1: The pay scale cannot be a sliding scale in terms of the $25-$35/hour range. The officers themselves must be paid the exact same amount, reguardless if they have a car or not. If there is some sort of "this job pays $25/hr, this job pays $35/hour" type thing, we are going to see complaints, and maybe lawsuits, about how certain connected folks always seem to get the $35/hour jobs.

#2: As a business, I would be looking over any new contract very closly. The contract may end up requiring the business to be responsibile for any damages caused by the off-duty officer. The problem I would have as a business owner is that say you have an incident where the officer did nothing wrong. However, for whatever reason, the issue becomes focused on race, gender, etc.. The FOP says "bring it on," but the city decides to settle for $10K just to make it go away for all involved. Since the city settles, does that mean they can then try to sue the third party employeer to recoup those costs? If the city is going to get more involved, it sounds like the city needs to take over all liability.

#3: Again, if I were a business owner, I might be more likely to stop hiring the additional police security if it is going to costs me an additional $10+/hr.. Instead, I will just just what others use: 911. If I see an issue, just call 911 and use the beat car that your already paying taxes for. If this means the city will need to increase patrols, so be it. If that means more hires and/or mandatory over-time, so be it. The costs for the business would plumet, as the costs would be taken care of via tax increases spread over the entire area.

#4: I can see a lot of officers deciding the jobs are just not worth it. Not very many officers want to work off-duty doing traffic, or some event where the work is constant and labor intensive. Thus, we could have some slots that never get filled, thus meaning the beat cars are going to have to cover any problems that arise from those businesses.

#5: Shouldn't this apply to the sheriff's deputies as well? Kinda unfair that a sheriff's deputy gets to use a county car and make $35/hour but the IMPD officer gets shafted because the business doesn't want to deal with the city paperwork.

#6: Even if this applies to the Sheriff and IMPD LE, the city can't tell businesses that they can't hire other officers from other departments. I can see a lot of businesses doing just that, especially if they are going to start charging $50+/hour for an officer in uniform with a vehicle. Plus, now the company would have to add to their book keeping. They would be paying the city _and_ the officer, which would be a total headache for some. Again, this could lead to the "Fine. I am done, I will just call 911 or the non-emergency # if I need an officer. That is why I pay taxes anyway."

Frank said...

One thing sorely missing from this conversation is that Metro officers are only one part of the part time work force. You have Beech Grove, Speedway, Lawrence,MCSD and probably a few I'm missing. If they don't have the same restricitons, the security companies and the officers from those departments will swoop in and bag all of "gravy" part time work (sit in my car create a deterrence)leaving only the parttime that nobody wants to Metro guys. They won't work it as there are several other ways to get OT on the department. Which I conclude will cause the employer who wants off-duty police to go without it. When that happens you can bet the run loads on the districts will jump big time. The impact on Broad Ripple would be staggering. Just my 2 cents....

artfuggins said...

AI, amazing but we agree....I dont like Monroe Gray and question his ethics but......that is old news...the GOP had the control to address the issue and Brizzi chose not to do anything....it is a case of put up or shut up and Brizzi shut up.....for some reason, hhmm, I wonder why? Just as Brizzi could investigate Ryan Vaughn ...there may be some conflict there or there may not be but without an investigation, who knows.

indyernie said...

As of now we have professional LEO's working these part-time jobs. They are present to lend a hand to
on-duty officers if it is warranted. If we aren't careful we will create an environment where officers from Jamestown, Engals or McCordsville will be performing these part-time jobs. We don't need an untrained Barney/Brother-in-law of the Town Chief flexing his authority in Broadripple. If city government is going to be involved they need to keep it simple and affordable so that academy trained, professional LEO's are performing this task.

The Public Safety Director should know where off duty Firefighters are employed also. Conflicts are conflicts and influence can come from all sectors. Indy needs to insure that conflicts and influence don’t happen with any employees.

An informed individual told me that the conflict at the recycling center was over blown. The person stated that when the truth comes out it won’t be the event that has been reported to be.

Jason said...

From what I've heard the proposal is similar to the one currently being used in Nashville. Essentially, the city would take over all the responsibility and have a monopoly on bidding, ergot they could charge as much as they want (though they will constantly be undercut by officers from neighboring agencies, they won't care. The city will still be making more money off of officers who aren't even working for the city at the time and there aren't enough officers from neighboring agencies to cover all the bids.) Evidently somebody realized how much money some of these security contracting firms were making and thought the city needed to get their hands on that cookie jar.

Who's going to be in charge of scheduling? How are you going to assign shifts, more of the who-you-know game? Since the city is getting a cut, will they assume all liability for the employee? Who will be providing the social security match, since these people aren't being employed by the city? Does this mean officers will start receiving overtime compensation for casework generated at additional city work sites?

Indy4U2C said...

Gary: I'd like to answer your Q "If he did something illegal, why didn't Carl Brizzi indict him?" That would be the same reason that he didn't charge Pacers with drugs...or Irsay for the prescription fraud/possession of controlled substances...

...My own opinion is that he subscribes to the Blago theory of "pay to play"...and both paid, so Brizzi played....