OFF-DUTY POLICE PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY
RESPONSES TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Police officers “moonlight” for a variety of reasons: providing additional income for their families, giving back to the community, career enhancement, keeping their skills sharp, etc. While these are all worthy and noble pursuits, each of them bring increased risks. Risks and exposures you could be personally liable for.
Patrol Protect offers concrete “peace of mind” coverage at an affordable price. In the event of an incident that occurs while you are off duty, PATROL provides you access to some of the best attorneys in the country. Rest assured, the will have your back by providing counsel, direction and an advocacy defense. Our experienced team will fight to protect your career and reputation – even if the actions brought against you are frivolous or without merit.
That is a really good question, one that is, frankly, difficult to answer with certainty. According to Western Michigan University Cooley Law School associate dean Nelson Miller, the true litmus test for liability is determined based on what the officer was doing, and whether the actions were in accordance with the color of 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 interest), chances are usually good to very good that only the department will pay, even though the officer faces the potential of liability”, Miller said.
Unfortunately, the issue becomes much murkier if the individual is performing a task while off-duty – especially if the work is being done on behalf of a private employer. In this scenario, the officer could be held personally liable for any incident that occurs. This could result in court cost, legal defense cost, judgements etc. The financial impact could be devastating to an individual officer. In addition to the financial implications, there are tangible implications that can happen to an individual officers career and status within his department.
The product provides both defense (legal representation) and indemnity protection (payment of awards, judgments, or settlements). The limits of protection for any covered event are dictated by the policy limit chosen.
Some of the covered potential liability exposures faced by off-duty police officers would be:
What you see is what you get, with no hidden deductibles or co-pays. You will receive defense and indemnity protection up to the limit of the policy chosen.
The most important barometer for any insurance policy is how vigorously it defends the insured in the event of a claim. The Patrol Protect Claims Administrator – Wilson Elser – is perhaps the most significant feature of our offering. This firm:
The plan allows officers to purchase additional coverage that covers them while doing off-duty work for a private employer. There are two restrictions: (a) the task being performed cannot be expressly prohibited by the law enforcement agency through which you serve as a police officer, and (b) the activities are not included on the excluded list found on the endorsement.
The term “Duty To Defend” is used to describe an insurer's obligation to provide an insured with defense to claims made under a liability insurance policy. As a general rule, the only prerequisite that must be met that there is potential for coverage under a policy to trigger this provision. For these occurrences, a defense must be provided even if a suit is found to be groundless or false.
Consult the claims scenarios below to gain a better understanding of exactly how PATROL protects your interests.
While working private security at a sporting event, someone was heckling the players and causing a disturbance. Although off-duty, but in full uniform, I arrested him for disorderly conduct. Upon appeal it was determined that I was improperly granted qualified immunity and that there were factual issues that questioned the grounds for arrest and whether or not I violated the patrons free speech rights. In addition, it was added that I may have used excessive force in ejecting the patron from the stadium.
Upon confronting the patron for using profane language, and his refusal to cease, I had asked him to either stop or leave the stadium. He did not comply or alter his behavior, so I placed him in the “escort position” and began leading him out of the stadium. Following several steps, he began resist and I was forced to wrestle him to the ground and forcibly remove him from the stadium. He was convicted of the resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, but the convictions were overturned on appeal and he sued me for excessive use of force and violation of his first amendment rights. This was eventually overturned and I won the case as it was deemed I was acting as a police officer and not just a security guard. Had I not had PATROL, I would have had to bear the cost of my defense.
I had to use my weapon to protect myself and others while working as a mall security guard.
I was working in a mall as a security guard when I responded to a call from two retail mall security guards seeking assistance with two shoplifters that had taken large amounts of merchandise. Upon arriving on the scene, the shoplifters were resisting the security guards and getting in a car to drive away with the stolen merchandise. I was off-duty, but wearing my municipal police uniform. As the shoplifters began to drive away, I identified myself as “police”, ordered them to stop and drew my weapon. When they did not stop, I fired a shot into the side window, unfortunately, this caused the shoplifter to collide with another car and hit a tree. As a result, the shoplifter sustained injuries and died. His widow filed a civil suit for wrongful death against me. The court ultimately found that I acted under color of law as I identified myself as police and was responding to an active crime at the request of the retail security guards. Had I not had PATROL, I would have been responsible for the cost of my defense.
I’ve been sued for civil rights violations as a result of arresting someone while off-duty
I’ve “moonlighted” for a while as a private security guard while also employed as a full time police officer in Springfield, IL. While working as a private security guard at a restaurant I had an altercation with a guest of the restaurant and placed her under arrest. Ultimately the charges against the guest were dropped by the restaurant, but the guest sued myself, my public and my private employer. Several of the allegations were federal claims against all three of us as supposed violations of her civil rights. While the court ultimately dismissed all of the state and federal claims, I would have been on the hook for the costs associated with my personal defense.