There is not a day that goes by without another added line is put in your job description, often under the ‘and others tasks as so directed’. Now the very design of emergency services is an unforeseen variable that this phrase is intended to address. However as some municipalities are redesigning their workforce (scale-down) many of the remaining absorb unfilled gaps in service. More often coppers are serving as animal control, code enforcement and so forth. I spoke to one officer who stated now they are reading water meters for the local water authority. For many police are often considered the S.N.E.W. Unit, or the Stuff Nobody Else Wants. The guilty party of this will be the smaller departments; if you want to keep your job, then you will do this. I understand in today’s financial climate protecting your job is paramount. I also understand that if you are being tasked jobs that you are not trained or equipped for will soon haunt someone. The department’s insurance carrier may be the voice of reason here to these added jobs. They want to protect their exposure and risks so it is in their interest to add to what you can and cannot do. You have the right to refuse an unlawful order, go wisely into the future.
There are several remedies for these and other pending issues in our profession. One, if you are a young officer, read the fine print before taking the job. Understand what your benefits are and visit your Human Resources to gain a full grasp of all. Whenever HR posts those flyers in the workplace that the law requires posting, but nobody reads them, you read them! You need to compare the changes to your current situation. Know your rights, benefit and job descriptions. If you have a local officers association (fraternal or union) get involved. I hope my crystal ball is off but as I see these clouds forming, I know it is going to be stormy on law enforcement’s future.