Dangers in Off-Duty Policing

September 12, 2014

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

There is little doubt that off-duty police officers, in some instances, find themselves in situations where they may be called on to act in their capacity as law enforcement in a split second. Whether it is responding to a person in distress on the side of the road or being an impromptu meditator for a volatile dispute, officers take an oath to protect and serve the public. However, what if that officer is not fit for duty at that split second? What if they have been drinking or are intoxicated? Can or should they use their law enforcement powers?

It was reported this week in the Indianapolis Star that two IMPD officers were off-duty at a bar and interjected themselves into a dispute between the bartender and a patron. http://www.indystar.com/story/news/crime/2014/09/11/man-allegedly-beaten-officers-says-still-respects-badge/15473861/. It was reported that the bartender asked the patron to leave. When he refused to leave, one of the off-duty IMPD officers flashed his badge and told the patron that it was time to go. The officers were alleged to have taken the man outside the bar and into a parking lot. One or both officers were said to have choked the individual and rendered him unconscious.

In addition to criminal liability, off-duty officers, their departments, and the Cities, towns, or States that employ them may be civilly liable under several theories provided for in the law. Consequently, whether through written policies and procedures, or through the monitoring of officers who may have a potential substance abuse problem, law enforcement departments would be well-served to address these issues proactively and establish best-practices for their officers who no doubt have significant power and authority in their community.

Contact us today if you have questions or believe your Fourth Amendment or civil rights have been violated. We stand ready to provide our clients with trusted representation and accurate information regarding the law and its application to their individualized case. Act now and contact us today at (317) 857-0160.