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  • Are you a cop 24/7?

    Lets say you are off duty and see a crime in progress involving a deadly weapon, like a robbery. Of course, if you have your gun on you, you will try to prevent it, right? in a way, it makes you a 24/7 cop . Lets say the suspect injures you....are you covered?worker's comp? or are you on your own? i saw this article and it got me thinking .....http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/6831242.html

  • #2
    The article involves a case a little different from what you're talking about. In the article the officer was actually on his way to work in a department vehicle. Most states consider an officer on duty from portal to portal as long as they are in a department vehicle, which means that from the point I leave my house before my shift starts to the point I pull back into my driveway when the shift ends, I'm considered on duty. There was a recent court ruling in Florida that said local governments can force officers to provide personal insurance for their vehicles while driving to and from work and refuse to cover them under the department's insurance, however that is more from a liability perspective than anything else.

    As to acting in a law enforcement capacity while out shopping or doing something else when you're obviously not going to or coming from work, that can depend. In Florida, an officer only has law enforcement authority within their jurisdiction. If I'm in another county, city, or state, I can't officially act as a LEO. Yes I can intercede in attempting to stop a crime, however I can't be considered on duty because I'm outside my jurisdiction. Now if I'm inside my jurisdiction and identify myself as a police officer, I'm covered because I'm taking official police action.

    Some states are different from Florida and grant statewide authority to any LEO no matter where they work. In those cases, as long as you identify yourself as a LEO then you should be covered, however it's not at all uncommon for governments to do what they did in the case you quoted and make things very difficult for the officer.

    It's unfortunate, but things like what happened to the officer in that story make a lot of cops think twice about taking action off duty, especially outside their jurisdiction. Personally, I'd only intercede off duty if someone's life was in immediate danger.
    Last edited by Delta_V; 01-23-2010, 02:19 AM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by houtx View Post
      Lets say you are off duty and see a crime in progress involving a deadly weapon, like a robbery. Of course, if you have your gun on you, you will try to prevent it, right? in a way, it makes you a 24/7 cop . Lets say the suspect injures you....are you covered?worker's comp? or are you on your own? i saw this article and it got me thinking .....http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/6831242.html
      With respect to the news article (which did not provide a lot of relevant details), it sounds like the county's felt the Sergeant was injured while engaging in an act that fell outside the scope and course of his normal duties and thus, was not eligible for worker's compensation coverage. Unfortunately, the news article did not explain their logic in this matter. I understand that in some states, Constables (rather than the county) are paid directly by a contracting party for certain services (much like a private guard) , Quite possibly the incident involved a situation like that, in which case the county may have felt the person contracting for the service should have been liable for workers comp coverage rather than the county. But in any case, the courts disagreed with the county.

      But as to your question regarding someone having a duty to act 24 hours a day and being covered under workers comp, much will depend on a combination of things.

      First, I do not know of any department policy or law that mandates a duty to stop a crime when a law violation is observed off duty. Often tactical considerations make taking action impractical or impossible (such as when you are out gunned, or there are more suspects that you can handled by yourself, or you can't call for back up, or you family might be placed in danger, etc.)

      Second, most peace officers are covered by workers comp when they are engaged in the performance of their duties. However, the question is, what constituted "their duties?"

      First, you will need to look at the extent of the peace officer authority granted to the individual under the law. Is he acting within it's limits? Next, you need to look at the mission of the department. If he is working for the Jones City Police Department, but deliberately sneaks over into Smithtown to poach tickets because they have a lot of speeders, he is no longer engaged in the performance of his duties. Next, you need to look at department policy on the handling of off duty matters. Is the officer acting within policy when he handles an off duty matter?

      If the officer acts outside the scope of his legal authority, outside his mission, or outside of policy, he many not be engaged in the performance of his official duties. As such, he may not be covered by workers comp.

      A final issue to be considered. Many departments allow their officers to work in uniform, using their peace officer powers, providing dedicated services to an individual or business who pays the officer directly for their service. When this happens, the officer is considered to be an employee of whoever pays them and not an employee of the police department. If they are injured or sued, their department usually does not offer them any protection because they were not acting within their official capacity as a department employee at the time. The person who hired them usually does not maintain workers comp coverage and does not have the money to retain an attorney to defend against civil suits brought by others, so the officer is left out to dry.
      Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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      • #4
        Originally posted by L-1 View Post
        Many departments allow their officers to work in uniform, using their peace officer powers, providing dedicated services to an individual or business who pays the officer directly for their service. When this happens, the officer is considered to be an employee of whoever pays them and not an employee of the police department. If they are injured or sued, their department usually does not offer them any protection because they were not acting within their official capacity as a department employee at the time. The person who hired them usually does not maintain workers comp coverage and does not have the money to retain an attorney to defend against civil suits brought by others, so the officer is left out to dry.
        This is an issue here with some departments. Luckily all extra duty jobs at my agency are run through the department. The client pays the department a set hourly rate, the department keeps a few bucks and gives us the rest. The money that the department keeps covers all of our insurance, so anything that happens to us at the job is considered an on-duty incident or injury.

        The local sheriff's office is different. Their deputies contract directly with the business and are independent contractors. The sheriff's office will cover them if they are taking law enforcement action (stopping a shoplifter, working a traffic crash, etc.), however if they're just walking down the aisle at a grocery store and slip and fall, they're on their own.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Delta_V View Post
          This is an issue here with some departments. Luckily all extra duty jobs at my agency are run through the department. The client pays the department a set hourly rate, the department keeps a few bucks and gives us the rest. The money that the department keeps covers all of our insurance, so anything that happens to us at the job is considered an on-duty incident or injury.

          The local sheriff's office is different. Their deputies contract directly with the business and are independent contractors. The sheriff's office will cover them if they are taking law enforcement action (stopping a shoplifter, working a traffic crash, etc.), however if they're just walking down the aisle at a grocery store and slip and fall, they're on their own.
          Same here. All of our off duty stuff is run through the department, to make sure the officers are protected in case they get hurt or sued. It also keeps them from working jobs that might be questionable or put them in a bad light.
          Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by houtx View Post
            Lets say you are off duty and see a crime in progress involving a deadly weapon, like a robbery. Of course, if you have your gun on you, you will try to prevent it, right? in a way, it makes you a 24/7 cop . Lets say the suspect injures you....are you covered?worker's comp? or are you on your own? i saw this article and it got me thinking .....http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/6831242.html
            Yes if I take any action "off " duty in my jurisdiction on my creds I am covered and considered on duty. My Dept considers us on the job 24/7
            Ignored: Towncop, Pulicords, TacoMac, Ten08

            Comment


            • #7
              We are required to take action if we are in the state of PA during a serious crime. It was made clear to us that if we are outside the state of PA we are acting as a ctizen. Yes we are covered as if we were on duty and we are held responsible for our actions as if we are on duty. We would also get paid OT in such an event. But there is always "that guy" who activates him/her self for every minor incident they come across, who make this type of behavior questionable.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by houtx View Post
                Lets say you are off duty and see a crime in progress involving a deadly weapon, like a robbery. Of course, if you have your gun on you, you will try to prevent it, right? in a way, it makes you a 24/7 cop . Lets say the suspect injures you....are you covered?worker's comp? or are you on your own? i saw this article and it got me thinking .....http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/6831242.html
                Under the circumstances you describe, my Agency would cover me fully, in the precise manner they would, had I been on duty.

                Comment


                • #9
                  from what i have seen, many agencies allow their LEO's the discretion to act on instances that at minimum involve an articulable threat of great bodily injury. the key is to articulate and be reasonable. breaking up a bar fight involving a slap and tickle fest = call the on-duty calvary and let them deal with it. active shooter in a mall = ........

                  that being said, when you start peeling back the many layers of the proverbial onion, one must consider many factors when acting off duty that include and/or go beyond policy or state law. including; possibility of being mistaken for a bad guy because you are in plain clothes, lack of communication beyond a cell phone (not to mention decent cell phone reception) no body armor, possible lack of sufficient supply of ammo or other necessary equipment, the list goes on....

                  it boils down to policy, law, and judgment.

                  my .02
                  wherever you go, there you are....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Inside my jurisdiction, I am on duty and on call 24/7. I, along with my Officers, are commissioned thru the Sheriff's Office extending our police powers outside of our jurisdiction. Anytime we leave our jurisdiction, we have to follow the guidelines set forth by the S.O. and remember that their supervisor is in charge outside of our jurisdiction. So, I discourage my Officers from acting on a crime outside of our Juri, off duty, and would rather them be a professional witness instead.
                    But, if they decided to take action, and did not conflict with S.O. or our guidelines, then I am going to stand behind their decision 100%.
                    We have an excellent working relationship with our local S.O. At one time or another, their supervisors were either my supervisor or I was their supervisor.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by creolecop View Post
                      Yes if I take any action "off " duty in my jurisdiction on my creds I am covered and considered on duty. My Dept considers us on the job 24/7
                      Same here.
                      I miss you, Dave.
                      http://www.odmp.org/officer/20669-of...david-s.-moore

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by leftcoastcopper View Post
                        from what i have seen, many agencies allow their LEO's the discretion to act on instances that at minimum involve an articulable threat of great bodily injury. the key is to articulate and be reasonable. breaking up a bar fight involving a slap and tickle fest = call the on-duty calvary and let them deal with it. active shooter in a mall = ........

                        that being said, when you start peeling back the many layers of the proverbial onion, one must consider many factors when acting off duty that include and/or go beyond policy or state law. including; possibility of being mistaken for a bad guy because you are in plain clothes, lack of communication beyond a cell phone (not to mention decent cell phone reception) no body armor, possible lack of sufficient supply of ammo or other necessary equipment, the list goes on....

                        it boils down to policy, law, and judgment.
                        my .02
                        Good points

                        Comment

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