COLORADO: When recreational-marijuana shops open in Colorado in January, Denver police officers will stand outside for crowd control but won’t be allowed to step inside to provide off-duty security from within.
A departmental order issued this month bars Denver officers from moonlighting as security guards at marijuana shops while police officials observe how the burgeoning industry develops.
The legalization of recreational marijuana is posing many challenges for the police department as it drafts internal policy to deal with an industry that is still illegal on the federal level.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure those businesses are safe, but we’re not going to work inside those businesses,” said Sonny Jackson, a department spokesman. “It’s a new industry, and we’re not sure what it’s going to entail.”
Denver officers earned about $10.6 million dollars between 2009 and 2012 working off-duty security jobs at venues such as bars, sporting events and even many liquor stores. Private businesses pay uniformed officers about $45 an hour to stand armed guard, offering a police presence without draining on-duty resources. But department policy prohibits them from providing off-duty protection to “any establishment which constitutes a threat to the status of dignity of the police as a professional occupation,” including porn stores, strip clubs and nuisance bars.
“This restriction prohibits officers from providing security at any such location and from providing security for the transportation of financial proceeds from any marijuana-related business,” the Dec. 6 memo to all sworn personnel reads. “Officers can expect future revisions regarding policies pertaining to marijuana as the laws are developed and finalized.”
Marijuana shop owners have said officers’ training, skills and uniforms would be particularly effective in protecting their cash-only businesses, which are a prime target for thieves.