There are very few professions nowadays that provide financially fulfilling compensation. Not everybody can be a surgeon, lawyer, professional athlete or celebrity: professions that are sure to provide luxurious living. Often times, working men and women have to work multiple jobs to provide for their families, send their kids to school, or simply just to get by in life. Almost every human being on the planet has a right to earn decent wages to get a decent living, even if this means juggling different lines of work.
People who hold sensitive public office positions are among the few exceptions. They need to give their full attention to the job at hand. Included in this exclusive list are the people in the law enforcement field. Police officers should not be allowed to take off duty jobs which conflict with their status as police officers.Being a cop means you have accepted a high profile position with little or no reward. The starting annual income for a police officer in New York is estimated to be about $ 25,100 (AP, 2007).
Plumbers and Sanitation workers make more. Not to demean the other professions but police officers put their lives at risk every time they put on the uniform so they are grossly underpaid. It is sad that they do not earn more, but they still should not be allowed to take on private security positions to earn extra income. Taking on a similar profession without the safeguards that make law enforcement work in the first place, can lead to disastrous repercussions.
Therefore, they should not be allowed to moonlight as private security providers.Conflict of interestMost cities throughout the United States have police officers take on private security work when off duty. This could spell conflict of interest on so many levels. A cop’s loyalty is supposed to be to the general public. They are tasked with implementing peace and order in their area of responsibility regardless of race, age, gender or social status. On the other hand, a private security officer’s loyalty is to the individual or corporation that hired him.
The Director of the Juvenile Justice Center in Boston, Lisa Thurau-Gray, says that the private police prioritize the interest of their employer more than public safety and rights (Goldstein, 2007). If the interest of public and private employer crossover, it is not surprising for the police officer to be conflicted and confused. As an example, suppose an off duty police officer operates as personal security for a private individual, lets say that the individual is suspected of a crime while in the protection of the off duty officer. Once media learns that a cop is somehow involved, how then is the police officer supposed to position himself to preserve his integrity? When a cop witnesses a crime that requires immediate action like a hostage situation or a bank heist, is he supposed to let it pass because he’s on private security detail? The only definitive answer is that he should not have been in the position to choose in the first place.Possible human rights violationState and nationwide laws have provisions that protect citizens from law enforcement violations. Search of ones premises or belongings require a search warrant, arresting a suspect needs a warrant of arrest, questioning suspects must be in the presence of a lawyer. These are just some of the rights afforded to citizens. Nonconformance with any of these requisites is considered a violation under the law. The police department and the arresting officer can be sued for such erroneous misdeeds. This is not necessarily true for private security providers. While off duty as a cop, a private security enforcer does not necessarily need a lawyer to extract information from a suspect. Miranda rights do not need to be enforced. This means that an officer who has internal knowledge of the “rights and wrongs” of police procedure can work around them on his private time.
A situation like this could lead to less civil interrogation techniques that could lead to brutality, which might not even fall under the category of police brutality because the officer is technically off-duty. This is not to insinuate that this is normal practice, this situation would surely not be of the common variety, only that the opportunity to take advantage of police protocols presents itself if a public law enforcer is allowed to spend his off-duty hours doing private police work.Paid on the clockSpecial police or private police are paid by the hour. As with other private companies, private security providers want the most of what they pay their employees and try to cut back on unnecessary expenses to save company money. While other companies generate savings by cutting back on supplies, energy consumption, and recycling, private security firms save by cutting back on court appearances and testifying before the judiciary. Police Captain Kenny Mangum and police officer Matt Saylors, while on patrol as private security for Capitol Special Police (CSP), found illegal drugs and handguns in a car of a convicted felon. Despite the potential danger of civilians using drugs and guns, the two off-duty officers did not make the arrest but did call in on-duty police officers to do it. CSP reasons that they are careful in billing clients with time spent testifying and therefore make arrests only when absolutely necessary (Goldstein, 2007). Such a choice has potentially deadly consequences had the driver and his companions decided to use the weapons at their disposal. Had Mangum and Saylors not been allowed to do private security work, they would have undoubtedly proceeded with an immediate arrest since diffusing dangerous situations as quickly as possible is part of the police officer’s job description.
This is clearly one instance where the moonlighting sideline got in the way of what would have normally been a routine bust.Perception of a protection racketThe public police population in the United States number to around 700,000 officers (Goldstein, 2007). They are outnumbered by private security police, 5 to 1 (Schneier, 2007). Despite their lack in numbers, it is their sworn duty to protect the citizens as they patrol their areas of their jurisdiction. Now, private subdivisions want the same security. Private suburbs in Maryland and Virginia, among others, have begun to entice police officers to enforce public laws in their areas, presumably for a fee (VIC, 2000). This gives a negative impression to tax payers that certain locations are more protected than others. Public trust is fragile, so even the slightest perception that law enforcement favors those who can pay for it must always be avoided.Separation between private and public policeThe private sector should have the right to protect their interests and hire additional security. It makes sense to try and hire police officers because they are better trained, experienced on the field and are best suited for the job. But cops, even off-duty, should not be allowed to moonlight as private security providers. The public needs, demands their full attention. Although they work in shifts with almost no overtime pay, they’re actually much like doctors. They’re always on-call 24-7. Carl Dunde, a police officer with 18 years of experience, said that police officers are never really off-duty (Dunde, 2007). A cop can go shopping, jogging, or walking their dog, but once a thief comes running, they come running after them, whether it’s in uniform or in their pajamas. A police officer’s work is never done.If law enforcers want to earn more and serve the private sector, they should quit. They can make their services available to the private security institutions and perhaps make a lucrative career out of it. But for the meantime, being a cop is public service. This may sound cheesy but public service is public trust. In order for the people to trust the law, its enforcers must give it their full attention. Crime doesn’t take a day off, it’s another corny line but it’s true, officers of the law shouldn’t either. The only defense the public has is the people enforce the laws of the land. “To serve and protect”, that’s an officer’s motto. It never said anything about clocking out.