This story from Slate details how Derk Chauvin (charged with George Floyd’s murder) knew Floyd from his work as private security at a club where Floyd also worked security. I didn’t know that police officers in some (many? most?) jurisdictions can work off-duty security in their patrol cars:
Chauvin, Santamaria said, had provided off-duty security for nearly two decades and was paid to sit in his police car outside the club and assist with removing patrons when necessary.
This was news to me, naïve suburbanite. Just what kind of authority does a police officer have off-duty?
A duly licensed law enforcement officer generally has the authority to enforce the law 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but only after establishing his or her identity as a police officer.
The designation “off-duty” only means the officer is not working a regular shift for the police department, not living as a private citizen with no authority whatsoever. An off-duty police officer can be employed as a private security guard and still have the power to arrest offenders or in many circumstances carry a concealed weapon.
I can’t imagine the power-trip this would be to be told that from now on you have permanent, 24-7 permission to deploy violence on your fellow man in the name of law enforcement. This, and backed by a powerful union with the ability to frighten governments, and the emotional support of the entire “boys in blue” fraternity? As they say - hell of a drug. No wonder the force attracts those with power fantasies, and no wonder police forces react with anger when their privileges are challenged by those they enjoy life-and-death power over.
FondLaw – In St. Louis:
“To clarify, secondary employment allows officers to work security in uniform and carry their department-issued weapons. The officer, while not on duty for the Police Department, still has the same responsibilities and power to affect arrest and the officer operates in the capacity as a St. Louis Police Officer. St. Louis Police Officers work secondary for securities companies, business establishments, sporting events, etc.”
I believe it is morally wrong to employ police officers in the trappings of their office for private business. In doing so the private establishment accrues by association all the power and authority of law enforcement to their purposes and policies.