Off-duty officers employed by stores for holiday security

Saturday, December 25th 2004, 4:23 pm

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Business owners know that while people are out shopping during the holidays, thieves are busy, too.

Many have decided that off-duty police officers are the best choice to help beef up security during the holidays.

Oklahoma City police Master Sgt. Charles Phillips said law enforcement officers are in high demand during the holiday season.

``Obviously, if you have a police officer on duty, you have someone who is trained in police work and can take appropriate action,'' Phillips said.

John Brockhaus, owner of Brockhaus Jewelry in Norman, hires off-duty Norman police officers to be at his store during busy shopping times.

``This is the highest traffic, highest profitability time of the year, and we are trying to cover all bets,'' he said.

Edmond police spokeswoman Glynda Chu said many of the Edmond department's officers work security jobs when they are off duty. She said the department receives requests for security from schools, churches, banks and stores.

She said thieves are more active this time of year, and uniformed police officers are often a deterrent.

``A lot of times it is a positive for the store and us to have an officer present,'' Chu said. ``It makes them feel safe.''

Glenn Lewis, owner of Lewis Jewelers in Norman, said he hired an off-duty police officer to be at his store at all times after a man grabbed two diamonds Nov. 30 and ran from the store.

Lewis said his hired security was scheduled to be at the store 10 minutes after the robbery occurred. Now security is present any time an employee is in the store.

Most departments allow officers to work off-duty security in their uniforms and use their police cars as transportation to the job.

``If you have a visible presence in front of a business, these folks are going to look for an easier target,'' Phillips said. ``It's an incredible deterrent.''

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