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Officer wellness and secondary employment

Providing opportunity to earn additional income while protecting officers from exceeding their physical and mental limits in the line of duty


Content provided by PowerDetails

Secondary employment refers to extra-duty jobs, in which off-duty law enforcement officers provide their services to the local community.

While law enforcement officers arguably benefit the most from secondary employment opportunities, the additional income they earn can often come at the cost of their health and well-being. The incentive to work more hours can push officers to exceed their physical and mental limits in the line of duty, which can lead to the development of fatigue.

Promoting and supporting officer wellness requires a culture change.
Promoting and supporting officer wellness requires a culture change. (Photo/Police1)

To prevent officer fatigue, law enforcement agencies must have the tools they need to enforce limits on secondary employment and promote policies that are both safe and fair.

What is Secondary Employment?

Secondary employment refers to extra-duty jobs, in which off-duty law enforcement officers provide their services to the local community. Some examples include:

  • Special events, such as concerts and sporting events.
  • Private venues such as movie theaters, restaurants or churches.

Secondary employment is a marketplace with three stakeholders:

  • Businesses that desire security services from sworn law enforcement officers.
  • Agencies who are responsible for the safety of the officers and the patrons
    of the businesses who hire them.
  • Officers wishing to utilize their skills to increase their income and help their communities.

How to promote safety & fairness

Fairness brings wellness. Implementing a system that facilitates, measures and corrects extra-duty employment issues may sound complex, but the PowerDetails platform makes it easy to manage these details and automatically enforces agency policies that promote safety and fairness.

  1. Distribution. As your agency receives and approves job requests, PowerDetails will notify all eligible personnel and ensure that opportunities are distributed evenly between personnel, per your agency policies.
  2. Policies. Accreditation groups such as CALEA offer secondary employment guidance in standard 22.2.5 - Extra Duty Employment. Having policies in place prevent officers from working too many hours and mitigates the risk of officer fatigue. It is also common for agencies to receive requests for public records that pertain to extra-duty employment. Incidents during extra-duty shifts create the need for historical records.

    For this reason, agencies must be able to locate and report the following information: location, dates/times, personnel names, pay rates and hours worked. 
  3. Payments. How officers get paid matters a great deal. The system should avoid the following situations: cash payments, uncollected funds (tracking accounts receivable to make sure each shift gets paid) and non-standardized rates, where some business might pay more to some officers over others.

    Best practices suggest that the agency collect payments and pay the officers via payroll in a separate line item for "extra duty." These payments can be processed electronically and officers receive 1099s for all wages received.

How to identify officer fatigue

What is fatigue? Fatigue can be caused by mental exertion, not just physical activity. And while fatigue is often temporary, it can also develop into unrelenting exhaustion that is not relieved by rest. When fatigue begins to impact an officer's psychological and emotional well-being, safety becomes a genuine concern.

In 2018, the Fraternal Order of Police surveyed nearly 8,000 law enforcement officers and found that:

  • 79% of participants have suffered critical stress in the line of duty.
  • 69% of participants reported that stressful experiences developed into unresolved/lingering emotional issues.
  • 90% of participants believe there is a stigma in law enforcement that prevents officers from seeking mental health treatment.

Fatigue Treatment & Prevention

How can the law enforcement industry take action against fatigue? Seventy-three percent of the participants in the Fraternal Order of Police survey considered peer support as the most helpful form of treatment. In order to make peer support more accessible, there must be cultural changes in law enforcement that promote and support officer wellness.

Some ways that agencies can provide better support include:

  • Talking openly about mental health.
  • Being conscious of language when discussing officer wellness.
  • Educating officers about mental health and how to identify signs of fatigue.

PowerDetails helps law enforcement agencies reduce the amount of time spent coordinating special events and extra-duty jobs from hours to mere minutes.

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