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May 24 2022

4 reasons off-duty shouldn’t be an afterthought

Managing off-duty details isn’t typically top-of-mind when it comes to an agency’s primary responsibilities. However, letting off-duty get lost in the shuffle can leave both agencies and officers open to any number of issues regarding safety, liability and agency reputation.

Here are the top four reasons off-duty shouldn’t be an afterthought:

Officer fatigue and overtime. Overwork in officers has proven time and again to have a negative effect on productivity, officer safety and officer well-being. Without insight into where, when and how many hours officers are working off-duty can leave you vulnerable to overworked officers and the negative impacts that come with it.

Off-duty incidents and liability. Just as with on-duty activities, any number of things can go wrong during an off-duty detail. Off-duty details still carry on-duty risks. Should something happen to an officer, agency property (like a vehicle), or persons or property at the detail location, where does that liability fall? It’s always best to have your ducks in a row before an incident occurs to make sure the officer, the agency and the community are protected.

Transparency into an inquiry. From time to time, inquiries concerning off-duty activities do pop up, usually in the form of a community or vendor request or complaint, or as an audit. Without visibility into off-duty or documentation of activities, any inquiry can at best lead to a scramble; at worst, a lawsuit. With a well-organized program, there is little room for question and the agency has all the transparency the community and city need to address any concerns. As an added bonus, it’s easier to spot and get ahead of any issues before they escalate.

Protect the reputation of the agency and your officers. Even though officers working off-duty may not be on the payroll, they are still in uniform and expected to protect and serve just as they would on duty. It’s important for officers to uphold their outstanding reputation any time they are representing the agency out in the community. Without insight into off-duty, it’s more difficult to ensure officers are adhering to policy and performing off-duty activities in a safe and responsible way.

While on-duty activities are always priority #1, it’s important to keep the needs of off-duty present. An off-duty program can be well-organized when it uses off-duty technology and solutions to help prevent officer fatigue, protect the agency and officers from risk, be proactive about potential issues and maintain the agency’s reputation.

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