Minneapolis task force to reexamine MPD off-duty employment policies

The MPD responds to a call downtown. (FOX 9)

Mayor Jacob Frey has announced a new task force aimed at overhauling its off-duty employment program.

More than two decades ago, the city formed two other groups that looked closely at the hours officers spend doing part-time work, but not much ever changed.

The city hopes this time will be different. Improved technology, computer software and the union representing the officers on board with exploring changes are big factors many hope will make a difference.

In September, the city’s audit committee took a closer look at the MPD off-duty or part-time work policies, procedures and processes. They found room for improvement on all fronts.

Whether it’s hiring ununiformed off-duty police officers for a sporting event or security at a building, recent findings indicate there’s more requests from local businesses than officers to work the part-time gigs.

While there are advantages to having additional officers in and around the community, there’s also a creation of grey areas. According to Chief Medaria Arradondo, that includes confusion with the public over who is on and off-duty, which je says can diminish trust in the force.

Currently, about half of the city’s officers work off-duty hours after an approval process within the precincts. Frequency varies, however, and a complete picture is unclear.

The recent audit shows that, last year, nearly half a dozen times, roughly 100 officers worked the equivalent of three full-time days’ worth of off-duty work in a single work week.

The task force has a range of concerns about off-duty work, including officer wellness, limits to how much freelance work is allowed and Minneapolis’s liability regardless of whether the officer is on or off the clock.

The Police Federation says some officers do have financial concerns and everyone at the table is striving to strike the right balance.

“We’ve always had the ability to work off-duty in the city, so that is an issue with some of our members thinking they are going to lose income,” said Police Federation Vice President Sherral Schmidt.

The task force will also tackle questions about fairness. In some cases, the city requires a private business to hire an off-duty officer because of issues in the past in order to keep their license.