Off-duty cops make extra cash in Dinkytown

Late-night restaurants like Five Guys privately employ police officers for security.

Michael Geissler

Minneapolis police officers have found extra ways to make money, like serving as additional security at late-night restaurants and bars.

Up to five officers rotate working at Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Dinkytown on Friday and Saturday nights. Other Dinkytown businesses employ security guards but not police officers to help them mitigate problems with patrons.

Richard Dortch, the manager of Five Guys, said they decided to bring in the officers as a result of issues with large groups of customers late at night.

“We had issues before we hired the officers with drunk customers that would try to do things like take entire bags of potatoes and peanuts,” Dortch said. “It was really just a safety issue.”

Dortch said since the officers have been working, they have seen a big drop-off in incidents.

Sometimes “just seeing them can be enough,” he said.

One Five Guys employee agreed that their customers are less likely to cause trouble with the officers around, and some even chat with them.

“A lot of people shoot the breeze and talk to them. They are really great guys,” said Luke Osicka, who has been working at the burger joint since last fall.

The officers are only from the Minneapolis Police Department. University of Minnesota police are not allowed to work privately off campus, according to University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner. They instead create extra-hour opportunities for officers within the campus community like policing during sporting and student group events.

“We’re not allowed to [work privately] per se,” Miner said. “It’s all through the department for us, and we get paid overtime for it.”

Minneapolis police have put in regulations for officers working off-duty. According to Minneapolis police policy, officers “will be held to the standard of on-duty officers” when working privately.

Dortch said the officers are allowed to be called in for backup if there is an incident elsewhere.

Five Guys is one of the only Dinkytown restaurants that decided to hire a group of police officers. Other places like Tony’s Diner and Mesa Pizza have implemented security guards instead.

Like Five Guys, Tony’s has security from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on weekends.

University junior Alex Nowak, an employee of Tony’s, said they also have issues with large groups of people.

Nowak said large groups hoping to use the restroom and problems with drunken patrons are the main issues.

 “Sometimes really drunk people accidentally take another person’s plate,” Nowak said.

At Five Guys, Dortch said officers can deter potential customers who don’t want to interact with the police.

“I personally would stay away from places with off-duty cops because I wouldn’t want to get in trouble,” said University junior Caitlin Abramson, who often frequents Dinkytown restaurants on weekends.

Abramson said she is okay with police working in the Dinkytown businesses as long as they aren’t there to get students into trouble.

For the most part, Dortch said, officers go unnoticed, but he’s glad they’re around.

“They’re real good guys.”