Off the beat means "off duty".
What is meaning "off the beat" below in headline?
"L.A.’s overburdened emergency departments force involuntary mental patients to wait for hours, keeping police on the clock but off the beat."
It means that the police are not "on the beat":
(one's assigned or regular path or habitual round: a policeman's beat) from: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/on+the+beat
I disagree with Mike here. The police are on duty and "on the clock" (being paid). They are, however, not carrying out their duties as patrol-men/women.
In my opinion, if they're being paid, they're on duty. It should be noted that, in the UK, the general assumption is that police officers are always "on duty" - if they see a crime being committed/suspect that a crime is being committed, they are obliged to do something about it, whether they are officially on duty or not.
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.
I agree bhaisahab, too, because Is it understood that police aren't "on the beat" following paragraph in the column? is that so?
Two police officers from the LAPD’s Central Division were sitting in a narrow hallway outside the locked psychiatric unit with a man and woman in handcuffs. Both patients had been brought to the hospital overnight on so-called 5150 holds, a forced 72-hour detention for mental evaluation of those deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.