CEO 76-101 -- May 17, 1976
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
POLICE OFFICER RUNNING A PRIVATE SECURITY COMPANY
To: Kenneth Jones, Chief of Police, Highland Beach
Prepared by: Gene Rhodes
There is no provision in the Code of Ethics which would prohibit a police officer from establishing a security company for the sale of services to the private sector. This finding does not address particular activities in which the contemplated company might engage, however, as such facts are not known at this time. Attention is called particularly to Florida Statute s. 112.313(7)(1975) prohibiting a public employee from holding employment or a contractual relationship with a business entity doing business with the employee's public agency. Should doubt exist as to the propriety of any future activity, the officer is urged to seek further guidance from the Ethics Commission.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were a police officer to form a private security company to provide guards to private businesses?
This question is answered in the negative.
You have advised us in your letter of inquiry that a full-time police officer in your department is in the process of forming either a private security company or corporation for the purpose of providing both armed and unarmed security guards to private enterprises in your county. The employees of this company will comply with Ch. 493 of the Florida Statutes regulating investigative agencies.
There is no provision in the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees which would prohibit a police officer from establishing a security company for the sale of services to firms in the private sector. However, we wish to advise you of the following provision in the Code of Ethics.
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP. --
(a) No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee, excluding those organizations and their officers who, when acting in their official capacity, enter into or negotiate a collective bargaining contract with the state or any municipality, county, or other political subdivision of the state; nor shall an officer or employee of an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. [Emphasis supplied; Fla. Stat. s. 112.313(7)(1975).]
This provision prohibits the police officer from having employment or a contractual relationship with a business entity doing business with the police department. This opinion does not address other future activity or operation of the contemplated company, however, as those facts are not known to us at this time. Therefore, this opinion does not preclude the possibility that future activities of a different or more specific nature may be violative of the Code of Ethics. Should any doubt exist as to the propriety of particular activities, we urge you or the subject police officer to seek further guidance via requests for additional opinions as needed. Please find enclosed a copy of "A Guide to the Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees" which is instructive as to the standards of conduct to which public employees are subject.