The Seattle Police Department will use software created by a local startup to help streamline off-duty work done by its officers.
CopsForHire, an Olympia, Wash.-based company co-founded by gaming veteran David Bluhm, is an online marketplace that allows individuals and businesses to hire off-duty cops for events, schools, public spaces, or even increased neighborhood watch patrols. They also provide services like traffic control, gun safety classes, personal defense, K-9/dog training, security system consulting, accident reconstruction and other technical specialties.
The SPD is now pointing its officers to the CopsForHire platform after spending several months vetting the service and meeting with the company. The department is not forcing all officers to CopsForHire and will allow them to use existing methods to find secondary work. But CopsForHire seems to now be the preferred solution as the department sees an increasing number of requests for off-duty resources in Seattle, particularly from private employers that do not have established relationships with officers or indirect service providers.
Bluhm told GeekWire that SPD plans to run both their off-duty and internal overtime details through CopsForHire.
“Besides the management, control, visibility, liability abatement and return of revenue from the tax-payer owned assets used in off-duty work, we all believe CopsForHire will play a big part in rebuilding trust and respect between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Bluhm said.
The department will use CopsForHire to match requests from approved organizations with officers who have been approved to work secondary employment and have a profile on CopsForHire. The technology will help the department screen jobs in real time and removes the need for officers to obtain a secondary work permit for each off-duty job.
Bluhm helped found CopsForHire in 2013 after 18-year law enforcement veteran Andrew Finley first came up with the idea. Launching with another co-founder Cayce Collins, the company brought on Rob McDermott, a former colleague of Bluhm at three separate startups, as its CEO in September 2015.
McDermott told GeekWire that CopsForHire provides a tech-focused way to facilitate off-duty work that helps officers earn 35-to-50 percent more dollars per hour while the companies hiring them will pay about 10 percent less per hour. That’s because the software helps remove “regional middlemen” who traditionally use a paper-driven process for logistical details.
CopsForHire also provides access to the jobs, reports, and financial records of these off-duty details while providing electronic timecards for officers that allow them to be paid within hours after working.
“The CFH Marketplace is the first of its kind nationally, and has taken this highly-fragmented and often-times misunderstood marketplace of cops moonlighting and created complete transparency for all participants, while leveraging state-of-the-art cloud computing capabilities to make the whole process infinitely easier,” McDermott said.
The company also does not charge officers a percentage of their earnings or take money from departments themselves for oversight and reporting.
“All of our revenue is generated by the hiring customer and with complete transparency before their request to hire an off-duty officer is submitted,” McDermott explained. “Not unlike a listing fee on eBay, you know before you start your auction exactly what your cost to participate will be.”
CopsForHire has raised just over $1 million from Bluhm and other investors, and employs 17 people. It plans to hire additional employees and raise more investment in the coming months. The SPD deal is the company’s first big partnership.
“This firmly establishes CopsForHire as a validated partner of law enforcement and sets us up to serve law enforcement and their communities nation-wide,” Bluhm said.
Bluhm is a veteran of the Seattle startup community and co-founder of companies like Z2, Handson Mobile and 2Way. His latest company, WG Cells, recently closed its 64-person office in the Seattle area.
“CopsForHire has become my first priority,” Bluhm said.