Ruling on security work done by off-duty police is upheld

Commander permission stipulation OK, court says

May 02, 1999|By SUN STAFF WRITER

The state Court of Special Appeals ruled Friday that Howard County police commanders can regulate the off-duty employment of officers with concern to security-related jobs.

The ruling stems from a 1996 incident in which two off-duty police officers were selling T-shirts at Merriweather Post Pavilion. As part of that job, the off-duty officers seized T-shirts from people selling them illegally.

Under the police department's rules, officers must get permission from the police chief to work security-related jobs. In the Merriweather case, seizing T-shirts fell under that definition because the off-duty officers were protecting the copyrights of music groups.

But the off-duty officers did not get prior permission from the police chief, and the department began disciplinary proceedings against them.

The officers sued, saying Howard County law requires the County Council to make those regulations, not the county executive and his police chief. A Howard County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the police department.

The Court of Special Appeals upheld that decision.

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