New task force to examine Minneapolis cops’ off-duty jobs

February 6, 2020 GMT

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis city leaders are looking for ways to better regulate officers’ off-duty employment after concerns about police overwork may be causing fatigue and burnout that affects performance.

Many officers work side jobs for the extra money, often providing security at nightclubs, sporting events and other establishments across the city. Work guidelines allow them to have off-duty assignments, so long as they get approval from a supervisor — an approval that’s often verbal and made in informal settings, making it tough to track who is working where and for how long.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Mayor Jacob Frey announced a new task force to figure out better policies for off-duty workers, noting that fatigue is a real concern for officers taking on second jobs.

The conference was organized after an audit last fall criticized the police department’s lax oversight in their policies governing officers’ side jobs.

The audit found that officers regularly exceeded the weekly 64-hour limit of combined on- and off-duty work.

The issue of off-duty work — and the fatigue it can cause — also came up last year at the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor.

Noor had just finished a seven-hour side gig providing security at a bank when he punched in for his regular job on July 15, 2017, according to prosecutors. That night, he fatally shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an unarmed woman who had called 911 to report what she thought was a sexual assault.

Noor is serving a 12-and-a-half-year sentence for manslaughter and third-degree murder.

Though Frey did not mention this incident during the news conference, he pointed to research showing that overwork affects decision-making and performance for anyone, not just cops.

Department officials say they’re not able to say with certainty how many police officers are working side jobs, but Assistant Police Chief Mike Kjos put the figure at more than half of the force.

Minneapolis Police Federation Vice President Sherral Schmidt said the union is committed to finding a solution that works for both officers and the city.

Any limits city leaders place on off-duty work will have to be agreed upon with the city’s own ordinances, which require that organizers of large public events hire police.