OCEAN CITY – New guidelines regarding secondary employment of Ocean City police officers were presented and approved this week, providing clear guidelines for secondary police work.
At an Ocean City Police Commission meeting this week, a general order was presented, outlining the current and new guidelines for police officers wishing to take on secondary work. Members of the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) are able to take on secondary employment, but guidelines define what officers can and cannot do when they are off-duty.
Secondary employment restrictions have been in affect for several years now, prohibiting police officers from taking a second job in any establishment that may pose a conflict of interest, such as a business that predominantly sells alcohol. Working in an establishment such as Home Depot as a cashier would not qualify as a conflict of interest, for example.
Changes to the general order were presented this week, providing stricter guidelines for police-related secondary employment, such as security work for a business in town. With the new changes, police officers are allowed to work security for establishments, but under the direction of the city. For example, if a police officer were hired to work security as secondary employment at a local under-21 nightclub, they would still be required to be in OCPD uniform and under the control of the city. Payment would still come from the under-21 nightclub, but would be at a set fee, paid to the city and then paid to the officer.
“Who do they answer to? Is he on duty or off duty?” questioned Councilman Jim Hall.
Police Chief Bernadette DiPino explained that officers were still essentially on duty. In the instance of a police-related matter, they could still act as an on-duty officer and if hurt, injury would be covered by the town.
“This strengthens what we already have,” she said, explaining that with the new guidelines, the rules and payment are clear, providing regulation to secondary, police related employment and payment.
“This would dictate that they’re employees of the city and the police department calls all the shots,” said City Solicitor Guy Ayres. “It doesn’t kick them into an overtime situation.”
Although security is considered an appropriate form of secondary employment, being hired as a bodyguard is not, said DiPino.
“There’s a potential for corruption there,” she said.
Officers also are not allowed to work secondary employment as security guards or bouncers at establishments such as Seacrets, where alcohol is a main source of revenue.
DiPino explained that officers could be hired by Seacrets for traffic control, however, where the job would focus more on a public safety issue.
All forms of secondary employment follow the same limitations on the amount of hours spent working. According to the general order, the number of hours spent on secondary employment must be limited to 24 hours per week, to ensure that police officers are not being overworked between the two jobs.
Officers are also required to allocate eight hours between leaving their secondary job and reporting for duty, to ensure that officers are well rested.
The Police Commission approved the revisions, agreeing to revisit the issue at a late date to set rates for police-related secondary employment.