Police Officers & Second Jobs / Alternative Jobs

by Graham Maranda


The Independent Commission Against Corruption says: 

"Secondary employment is the term used to describe any additional employment or 'outside work' that a public official is engaged in outside of their position in the public sector. It can include working for another employer, running a business or providing paid consultancy services, or being involved in a family business. Secondary employment need not be a corruption risk if it is managed properly by the agency concerned." 


NSW Police Commissioner Scipione is reported in 'The Age' newspaper (5th December 2007 - in response to a report by the NSW Auditor-General) as saying he would not stop frontline police taking second jobs.   Ten percent of the force currently had permission to hold a second job, with up to 50 per cent of officers at some local area commands moonlighting, the report found.  Commissioner Scipione said, "The reality is that they have mortgages to pay, and they've got families to raise,"......"If they choose to work in secondary employment that's fine, as long as it doesn't impact on their primary role as police officers."

What is the general police policy about moonlighting or having a second job?

At www.jobsonline.com.au I found the following article, which provides a good overview concerning police and secondary employment.

Clamp Down On Officers' Second Jobs

28 January 2007

PROMPTED by fears of corruption, Victorian police chiefs are set to crack down on thousands of officers who work second jobs.  Police who work outside the force will be listed on a central register aimed at keeping a closer eye on their activities. The move follows revelations in The Sunday Age last month that up to half of the state's 11,000 police officers may have second jobs and be at risk of conflicts of interest. Until now, Victoria has not had a central register of second jobs, leaving the police force and its watchdog, the Office of Police Integrity, powerless to manage the risk.

In many instances, police command has no idea what second jobs police officers may be working.

Tasmania is the only other state without a central log.  In Victoria, police officers wanting work outside the force need only get permission from a local senior officer, a sergeant or senior sergeant.

 Under the new system, high-level authorisation would be needed to work outside the police.

All requests would be tested for potential conflicts of interest or corruption. The central register would be audited every year. Concerns were initially raised when Victoria Police allowed four fraud squad detectives to open a private investigations business near their St Kilda Road headquarters.

Two police officers were also investigated for their involvement in a hot dog business operating outside popular night spots and making up to $10,000 each weekend. Police are banned from working in security, but the watchdog is believed to have particular concerns about officers who may be working at nightclubs and in areas peripheral to the sex industry. Office of Police Integrity assistant director Graham Ashton said he would welcome any move by the force to monitor and manage the risks of officers' outside work more effectively.  "We are not proposing a total ban on second jobs, rather we want a more co-ordinated approach to the way the force manages it," he said.  "It's important for the force to have a greater understanding of potential conflicts of interest that can arise in everyday police duties."  Victoria Police confirmed the secondary employment policy was under review but declined to comment on the details.

Meanwhile police in NSW are to be audited twice a year after revelations that many officers have failed to declare that they have second jobs.  Favoured second jobs for police include: Computer forensics, Retail, Lawn mowing, Gardening, Dive shops, Local government, bar work.

Question: "Whether it is approved or not, what kinds of second jobs/incomes have police officers had that you have heard about?"

The NSW Police Policy concerning secondary employment is clear. Each application for approval is judged on its individual merits. However, generally speaking any application to work in the Liquor Industry (licensed premises) is considered a conflict of interest.  Likewise, working in the security industry directly linked to licensed premises (doorman, etc) is considered a high risk factor and will not be approved. 

Prior to the mid 1990s the Security / Liquor Industry was proliferated by police 'moonlighting'.   When it came down to the nitty gritty of things, 'bouncers' who had police training (verbal negotiating skills) were highly sought after.   They used verbal tactics, not physical tactics to remove the 'unwanted' or prevent them from entering establishments.

However, police would moonlight and turn their hand to anything. It depended on 'off duty' time they had available and whether they had contacts to obtain secondary employment.   I recall different officers as cement truck driver, florist, kitchen hand, barmaid, doorman, carpenter, electrician, coalminer, hairdresser, and grave digger - whatever skill the police officer has, he uses. The list would be very long.

Question: "What types of jobs might someone with a police background go into after leaving the police force?"

I think the state of mind of the individual comes into play foremost. I have a friend who would definitely not consider private investigative work; some are contented performing community service work driving buses for the elderly, etc. 

As for me, before leaving the police I vowed silently I would never undertake private investigation work.  I am currently a Consultant Investigator for a large NSW Government Agency, investigating reported breaches of workplace policy and codes of conduct. This has turned out to be sufficiently similar without being at all similar in many ways.  On the one hand, continuing in a public service framework with detailed written procedures, clear ethical guidelines and systems of accountability is a comfortable fit for me. On the other hand, my former tasks and added responsibilities of motivating, supervising and reporting on a team, its budget and resources, are nicely absent. When an officer's pursuit of excellence is not equally matched by political / organisational support, it can be a killer -morale, health, welfare. Of course, this is not unique to the role of policing.

I know former officers who now run successful private investigation firms. Others are employed in Human Resources or as Operational Managers.  I know a husband and wife team who now have a highly competitive business cleaning residential apartment blocks, including maintaining the common ground gardens. One of my close friends, for the past two years has worked in private security in Iraq.  Presently, he rotates six weeks on tour then six weeks resting back here in Australia. Many others from the various police forces here in Australia went to Iraq and now Afghanistan. 

Question: "Do people with a police background need to do extra training to become private investigators?"

Generally speaking, no. 

The skills developed, the level of training reached (formal and on-the-job) more than adequately fulfils the requirements for private security / investigation.  However, like any formal requirement each person must show that a level of competency has been attained in order for relevant Certificates to be issued.  Most people with policing skills and training would easily attain the relevant Certificates vide Recognised Prior Learning (RPL).

Question: "What can police do that private investigators can't?"

Police have legislated broad powers of arrest, powers to stop, search & detain (cars & people), arrest people for purpose of interview, drive contrary to the road laws in certain circumstances (which are somewhat broad anyway), close off public streets & public places, break down doors to buildings (Protect Life & Property). Police can take away your liberty, take control of your house (under search warrant), deploy deadly force if and when required, and apply to the court to bug your telephone and house.  But mostly, police exist to help us.  Do you believe me now, after all of the above?

I was told many years ago, 'Police are mostly a Servant to the Master - but at times need to be Master of the Servant'.  After 30 years of policing I found this statement to be absolutely true.

© Graham Maranda


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