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Enterprise Off Duty Cops, Inc. is just what it says it is

Off Duty Officers, Inc.




Aram Minasian


Five full-time staff members; depending on the job, part-time staff may number in the hundreds.


Declined to state.


10671 Roselle St., Suite 202, San Diego


Private security, including workplace violence prevention, executive protection and private investigation.

Terry deGelder does not work in the financial markets, yet he sizes up business news with an insight not everyone has.

“I guess Lucent’s the big story today,” said deGelder, co-founder of Off Duty Officers, Inc.

It was late July and deGelder, director of operations with the San Diego-based security company, was referring to Lucent’s newly announced plans to lay off as many as 20,000 employees.

Executives who feel they must terminate an employee, yet fear retribution if they try, call in people like deGelder when they decide it’s time for action. Sometimes the phone call averts a crisis.

The staff at Off Duty Officers recalls one termination particularly well.

The human resources director thought the company was overreacting. Nevertheless, the company contracted with Off Duty Officers and told the employee that as a condition of his personnel hearing, the security guard would have to pat him down.

The guard found a loaded gun. A speed loader was in easy reach.

The man was arrested, then interviewed. Executives with Off Duty Officers say the employee first wanted to kill his co-workers, and then commit “suicide by cop” , that is, provoke a police officer into firing at him.

“It would have been one of those big, national stories of a guy who commits workplace violence,” said deGelder.

DeGelder is retired from 27 years of police work, first in Chicago, then in San Diego. He now coordinates the private security work of Off Duty Officers , a company he helped start.

Just What The Name Says

Executives at Off Duty Officers say the company distinguishes itself by hiring out what the name says , actual law enforcement officers.

The arrangement works for the peace officers. Moonlighting as a security guard offers a way to make extra money, and an honorable way at that. Officers with money problems , who might need to pay alimony or child support , may be tempted to make money in other ways, said deGelder, referring obliquely to police corruption.

The arrangement works for Off Duty Officers’ executives as well, because they can advertise a premium product: security guards who have been through the police academy, who are up to date on the law and court decisions, and who are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid.

“You get a whole lot in one package when you hire one of our guys,” said deGelder.

California law requires regular security guards go through a few hours of training. Carrying a weapon requires less than 20 hours of training.

By contrast, deGelder said, peace officers have gone through 600 hours of police academy.

Lengthy Training

Today’s Peace Officer Standards and Training (or POST) course is even longer. It stretches over seven months, said Steve Lickiss, who teaches the subject at San Diego’s Miramar College.

That training costs companies like Off Duty Officers. A company employing off-duty officers has higher labor costs and can charge higher rates, noted Steven C. Kaufer of Inter/Action Associates, Inc., a Palm Springs security consultant.

Off-duty police typically want something on the order of $20 to $25 per hour, Kaufer said. Security guards with less training begin working at $8 an hour and up, he said.

When you get right down to it, police training makes for a better product, said Aram Minasian, Off Duty Officers’ president.

In addition to corporate security, the company provides bodyguard services and private investigation. It consults with human resource departments on ways to prevent workplace violence.

It has dispensed advice about getting warrants (none is needed to search an employee’s desk or computer, since they are property of the company) and about the telltale signs of drug use. For other questions about human behavior, the client can turn to Off Duty Officers’ staff psychologist.

Off Duty Officers has sent people to accompany executives like Bill Gates and celebrities like radio host Art Bell.

Executive protection probably requires even more than the standard police training, said Jurg Mattman, a security consultant in Murrieta. “You don’t want to take just any cop off the beat,” he said, adding that SWAT training is helpful for executive protection assignments.

Unusual Assignment

A more unusual assignment for Off Duty Officers was escorting a Japanese executive to his maquiladora plant in Tijuana. Under different circumstances, the man would have traveled in a limousine.

But here, deGelder said, a limousine would have been an invitation for a kidnapping. So Off Duty Officers put the executive in a baseball cap and delivered him to the plant in an old pickup truck.

Some of the more unusual clients needing bodyguards have been Barney, the big purple dinosaur, and the dog on the television show “Frasier.”

Why would a dog star need an escort? Among other things, people feel compelled to pull on its ears, deGelder said.

Off Duty Officers has five full-time employees. Its part-time work force varies with customer needs. The company can draw on more than 100 part-time staffers. These are actually employees, not contractors, said deGelder.

‘Real Long Days’

One big, recent job was to provide indoor security at the San Diego Convention Center during BIO 2001, the biotechnology convention in late June. Off Duty Officers provided more than 100 employees a day.

The convention required special training and made for some “real long days,” deGelder recalled.

The company refuses some jobs. After all, deGelder said, its employees are law enforcement officers first, and are obligated to make an arrest if they see a crime. So it’s not a good idea to invite Off Duty Officers to a party where people are taking illegal drugs.

One time, deGelder said, a man running an escort service called the company with a request for help. DeGelder gave his blunt opinion of the idea. The caller said he changed his mind.

Off Duty Officers carries its own workers’ compensation and liability insurance policies. If a law enforcement officer is injured while working as a guard, Off Duty Officers , not the police department that employs him , covers the cost, deGelder said.

Minasian, a businessman with no law enforcement background, started the business in 1993 with his brother, his sister and deGelder, who provided the cop’s perspective. The company’s first headquarters was Minasian’s garage.

A key event in getting the business going, said deGelder and Minasian, was the San Diego Police Department’s 1993 decision to allow its officers to do private security work on the side.

At the time, Minasian said, he was considering more than one business idea, including opportunities in real estate. Service businesses seemed to promise a lot of opportunity, he said.

Growth soon forced Off Duty Officers out of the garage, said deGelder.

Minasian and deGelder said the business has seen its ups and downs, but by Minasian’s account it has “taken on a life of its own.” Company executives declined to give revenue figures for Off Duty Officers. “The guard business is so competitive,” deGelder said, adding that companies work to beat their competitors’ prices.

Minasian said Off Duty Officers has expanded to the Los Angeles area and is now looking seriously at doing work outside of California. He also said the company was working to narrow its business into a more specific niche, but again he declined to give specifics.

The rewards are more than monetary.

DeGelder recalled taking a phone call from someone who had been there when the man brought the gun to the termination hearing. The caller said he was looking at his wife and children, and just wanted to thank the former Chicago cop.

With pleasure evident in his voice, deGelder recalled saying, “You’re welcome.”


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