- IMPD has little control over the number and types of off-duty jobs the police work to help keep conflicts of interest in check.
- IMPD has no idea how much police are being paid for their off-duty work, allowing private sector employers to buy influence.
- IMPD has no system for regulating the amount of hours police work in their off-duty jobs.
- In some instances, a superior officer in the department is being supervised in his or her off-duty work by a subordinate officer, creating the potential for internal management conflicts.
The Star investigation found that 57%, or approximately 874 officers, work off-duty jobs. Officers have been given permission to work for more than 900 businesses, security companies and special events. Bars and nightclubs represent about 14% of the permits issued to permit officers to work off-duty jobs. The report notes that other cities, such as Columbus, Ohio and Tampa, require all off-duty work requests to be managed by the police department. Other cities also set the pay rates for the officers' off-duty work.In a separate story, a proposal by City-County Councilor Vernon Brown would allow the City to collect fees from the private businesses and security companies that employ police for off-duty work to help offset the use of police-owned cars, equipment and uniforms for these part-time gigs. I've advocated this idea since Ballard took office as a way of off-setting the high costs of running the police department. A fee of $10 an hour, for example, could easily generate as much as $7 million a year in additional revenues. Despite the significant revenues at stake, the Ballard administration and the FOP oppose the measure. They pretend to believe that police officers will lose their off-duty work if the additional fee is imposed, something that hasn't happened in other major cities that have done it.
Unfortunately, the story in the Star really misses the mark on Brown's proposal. What the story fails to discuss is who owns the private security companies that employ many of IMPD's police officers in their off-duty work and what percentage of the work police do off-duty is performed through these companies as opposed to direct employment of the officers. For example, one of the major security companies is owned by former Marion Co. Sheriff Jack Cottey. The private security companies make a lot of money by marking up the price of the off-duty work of officers. It's the private security companies' profits and not the employment of off-duty officers that will likely suffer if the fees are imposed by the City. The FOP has a tight relationship with these security companies and is trying to protect them more than the integrity of the police department or the amount police are able to earn from part-time work. It's very telling that the Ballard administration would oppose fees for off-duty work that could put a real dent in the City's budget shortfall at the same time it is proposing a parking tax on downtown workers to raise $1.5 million for the financially-troubled CIB.