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Off-duty police officers accountable when moonlighting, department policy says

Off-duty police work is regulated by the department, not the part-time employer, authorities say in the wake of a shooting in Langley Park involving a PGPD officer.

LANGLEY PARK, Md. — Prince George’s County police officers who shoot, hurt, or arrest someone while moonlighting are subject to the same scrutiny and accountability as if they were on duty, according to department policy.

Sunday night, an off-duty Prince George’s County officer shot and wounded a man while moonlighting as a part-time security guard at a liquor store on New Hampshire Avenue in Langley Park, according to Interim Chief of PGPD Hector Velez. 

The officer has been identified as Corporal Vincent Simmel, a 9-year veteran of the PGPD, and the man shot is 47-year-old Vicente Gutierrez. 

Velez said Gutierrez charged at Simmel with a knife after Simmel escorted Gutierrez out of the store, on a manager's request, because he was disturbing customers and had previously been banned from the store. 

Simmel was in full uniform at the time of the shooting, according to PGPD. 

Police moonlighting, officially called “secondary employment,” is so prevalent, it is governed by an entire chapter of the department’s general orders.

According to the orders:

  • Officers must be trained and pre-approved by the department
  • The businesses that hire them are also pre-approved by police
  • Officers are required to be in uniform
  • Officers must carry radios
  • Officers must report their location and hours
  • They cannot work more than 20 hours a week while off duty

If there is a shooting, an injury, an arrest, or a complaint,it all goes through the police department, not the part-time employer, according to Prince George’s County police spokesman Corporal Nicholas Clayton. 

“They are held to the same standard as an on-duty officer," Clayton said. "They are actually governed by our general orders manual, despite the fact that they're not actually on duty for the county, but that they're working for a private entity.”

RELATED: PGPD: Officer shoots person charging with a knife outside Hyattsville liquor store

Police call moonlighting "good public policy" that multiplies the force in the field and prevents crime.

“It's not costing taxpayers any additional money and it's also a visible deterrent," Clayton said.

Angelo Consoli, president of the county's police union, said the vast majority of officers do part-time police work while off duty.

“The officers are fully accountable to the department," Consoli said. “It gives the officer the ability to gain the experience from being out there doing the job above and beyond what they normally do, and more importantly, it allows them to make a little bit more money.”

Simmel is now on administrative leave while the incident is fully investigated, according to Velez. He was not wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting, according to PGPD.

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