New Jersey's second largest city is tightening controls on off-duty police work and putting the program under civilian oversight in response to complaints from businesses about poor oversight and price-gouging, city officials said Wednesday.

Jersey City Police
Jersey City Police (Flickr User Kai Schreiber)

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, elected to office in May, said a civilian will take over management of the police department's off-duty jobs program instead of having officers at the district level administer it. He says that will allow eight officers to return to patrol.

A second civilian will serve as billing manager, he said.

Crossing guards rather than police officers will be offered off-duty jobs that only involve traffic control.

The changes will save money for businesses and nonprofits, put more police on the streets and create a fairer system for providing off-duty employment opportunities for officers, Fulop said.

"We've listened to the small business owners and organizations who hire the off-duty officers and what they told us was that not only was this process arbitrary, but that the officers lacked oversight and often the business owners felt like victims of price-gouging," Fulop said.

Under the reorganization, the off-duty employment office will establish a guide to how many off-duty officers are typically necessary for a particular assignment and make that public.

The mayor and Public Safety Director James Shea said another goal is to hold officers on off-duty jobs to the same standards as officers on patrol.

"No longer will it be acceptable for police officers to be talking on their cellphones or not visible at their posts when working an off-duty assignment," he said.

The reorganization will be carried out by ordinance and a directive from the public safety director, the mayor said.Jersey


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