Some businesses welcome cops year-round

By Mike Macagnone

‘ ‘ ‘ Area business owners often commission city police officers to work in their… ‘ ‘ ‘ Area business owners often commission city police officers to work in their establishments over the weekends. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Officers who participate in this more than 10-year-old program, called Secondary Employment, are considered stationed at the business, which include Oakland’s Mad Mex, The Original Hot Dog Shop and the McDonald’s on Forbes Avenue. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ There was no noticeable increase in the number of officers businesses requested in anticipation of the Super Bowl, said assistant police chief Regina McDonald. But some establishments opted to close for the day instead. Some businesses, for example, requested to have two officers instead of their usual one. She said she thought part of this was because people only knew for two weeks that the Steelers were in the Super Bowl and also because some businesses chose to close during the game. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ City police officers insist that they still have the same authority covering these businesses they would while on normal duty. Officers still carry their radios, badges and firearms while patrolling businesses, so their presence is often enough to keep people in check and offer proprietors some peace of mind. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘Most of the time, it’s just the visibility. It’s a deterrent,’ said Regina McDonald, assistant police chief. ‘Occasionally an officer will have to escort a disorderly patron out of a business, but not often.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Most businesses that use Secondary Employment choose to have the officer stationed inside their walls. Some bars have their own security, and the officer stands at the entrance to the establishment. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ The jobs may vary from being a police presence to directing traffic or making secure deposits at a bank, said McDonald. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ T.J. Smith, general manager of Mad Mex, said he hires an officer to cover his restaurant in the evenings as a precaution. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘They’re just here for security, and nothing bad has ever happened when the officer was here,’ said Smith. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ To apply for Secondary Employment, business owners send an application to the Special Events office listing the name of the establishment, its location, the owner’s name and contact information and the number of hours an officer is needed. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Businesses agree to pay the police officers’ hourly wage, which they negotiate, and a $3.50 per hour cost-recovery fee. The fee, McDonald said, is mostly to recover time spent by the administration in organizing Secondary Employment. The fee also helps cover any worker’s compensation claimed by an officer injured while at a business. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ After the city police approve an application, an administrative officer assigns other officers to work at the businesses. ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ That administrative officer then hires officers from the police force, who bid for the shifts on the basis of seniority, said McDonald.