The Chicago Reporter surveyed the nation’s 50 largest police departments and found strategies Chicago could adopt to rein in the problems that arise when cops take second jobs as private security guards, as detailed in our joint investigation with CBS 2. Here are five ways other large law enforcement agencies regulate moonlighting by officers:

1. Require officers to get permission


When Chicago cops moonlight, no one is watching

Of the 50 departments surveyed, 48 require officers to get permission to moonlight. More than half require officers to file paperwork on their second jobs at least annually. The reason: It’s much harder to enforce related regulations if a department doesn’t know where officers moonlight.

2. Limit the number of hours an officer can work

Limiting secondary employment is important to ensure that officers are awake and alert for their regular shifts and to avoid burnout, said Darryl Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. Thirty-six departments limit hours in some fashion.

Examples: New York, Los Angeles, Houston

3. Ban self-arranged work

At least 13 departments prohibit officers from arranging their own outside security work. Instead, the departments organize it, controlling where, when and for whom its officers moonlight, and also providing potential revenue, since departments often charge a fee for this service.

Examples: Philadelphia, Boston, Milwaukee

4. Specify prohibited jobs

Like most departments, CPD prohibits second jobs that pose a “conflict of interest” or “bring either the Department or the Department member into disrespect of disfavor.” But 28 departments go a step further and specify banned jobs, such as working in a casino or strip club, or owning or acting as a broker for a private security company.

Examples: Nashville, New Orleans, Seattle

5. Require officers to report in

Fifteen departments require officers to radio in at the start and end of off-duty security shifts, so dispatchers know where they are working. Cmdr. Keith Williams, who recently retired from the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, said this helps the department maximize the effectiveness of off-duty officers. “If we get a call for service from an establishment and, when [the dispatcher] enters the address, they see there’s an off-duty officer there, they can assign that officer, therefore releasing the on-duty guys,” he said.

ExamplesAtlanta, Washington D.C., Baltimore County

Click below to see the secondary employment policies at 48 of the 50 largest law enforcement agencies in the country. Note: The other two departments, the Nassau County (N.Y.) Sheriff’s Department and the Orange County (Calif.) Sheriff, answered questions about their policy but did not provide a copy to the Reporter.

[Update 5/31/2017: The Office of the Inspector General cited this story in recommending that the Chicago Police Department adopt a more rigorous secondary employment policy to avoid the potential for officer burnout, corruption, and legal exposure as collective bargaining agreements with the city’s unionized workforce, including the Fraternal Order of Police, are set to expire this year.]

Jonah is a reporter for The Chicago Reporter. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @jonahshai.

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