Off-duty police officers may be professionally trained, but that doesn't mean they can see the future. Every job comes with risks, especially those that have to do with security, but the nature of those risks matters when it comes to determining fault.
There are facility and onsite factors that could lead to an injury, and in those cases, the police officer's own insurance won't always cover the costs. All the same reasons that compel companies to provide coverage, especially Workers' Compensation insurance, apply to off-duty police officers.
You should work with officers through a staffing service that provides the necessary coverage. That should grant you peace of mind, since you never know what will happen while an officer is working for you.
Speaking to PoliceOne, Western Michigan University Cooley Law School associate dean Nelson Miller said that a key general factor for determining who pays is what the officer was doing, and whether the actions were in accordance with the law.
"As long as the incident occurred within the course and scope of the officer's employment, and the officer was not on a personal rampage (in deliberate disregard of the department's interests), chances are usually good to very good that only the department will pay, even though the officer faces the potential of liability," Miller said.
Simply stated, this means that if circumstances require that the off-duty police officer go into police mode and becomes legally on-duty, then such concerns may not apply. But a non-law enforcement injury will not offer such relief to the employer without additional provisions for risk mitigation. When they're doing security work, personal protection or crowd management for your business, there are other concerns that could leave you liable.
Consider some of the most common injuries in any of the following popular situations for off-duty police officer use:
- Crowded entryways: There's the power of "crowd crush" to consider, but also the structure of wherever the officer will be standing. You simply might not know until too late what features of your building are going to be the most dangerous.
- Office accidents: Despite your best efforts, you never know when a lighting fixture, electrical outlet or other part of an office building might turn into trouble. Something as simple as a stack of boxes or a stray cable snaking across the floor could lead to an accident. In both of those cases, it's good to have the proper kind of liability insurance for all employees and vendors, including off-duty police officers.
- Manufacturing plant hazards: Travelers Insurance tallied up some of the most common manufacturer workplace risks, including contact with dangerous objects or toxic substances, as well as simple slips, trips and falls. Working here can bring dangers for anyone, and even police can only do so much to protect themselves on their own.
These might not be specific concerns for your job, but they could be similar enough to whatever work you have in mind for police officers to give you cause to be wary. All it takes is the right additional coverage to leave you feeling better about your liability, and the officers' safety.
Frizell Group can handle this for you and help reduce your overall liability. We also make hiring officers easier in general by coordinating scheduling, handling all payroll and tax issues and leaving less work for you to do. Contact us and learn more of what we provide.